Danish Defence Research Database


Russia’s Strategy in the Arctic

Project: Types of projects

Two overriding international relations (IR) discourses – or foreign policy directions dominate Russia’s strategy in the Arctic. On the one hand, there is an IR realism/geopolitical discourse that puts security first and often has a clear patriotic nature, dealing with ‘exploring’, ‘winning’ or ‘conquering’ the Arctic and putting power, including military power, behind Russia’s national interests in the area. On the other hand, there is an IR liberalism, international law-inspired and modernisation-focussed discourse, which puts cooperation first and emphasises ‘respect for international law’, ‘negotiation’ and ‘cooperation’ and labels the Arctic a ‘territory of dialogue’, arguing that the Arctic states all benefit the most if they cooperate peacefully. After a short, but very visible media stunt in 2007 and subsequent public debate by proponents of the IR realism/geopolitical side, the IR liberalism discourse has dominated Russian policy in the Arctic since around 2008-2009, following a pragmatic decision by the Kremlin to let the foreign ministry and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov take the lead in the Arctic. The question asked here is: How solid is this IR liberalist-dominated Arctic policy? Can it withstand pressure from more patriotic-minded parts of the Russian establishment?

Research outputs

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