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Jan 01 0001
Russian Arctic Policy in the 21st Century:From International to Transnational Cooperation?
By Maria Lagutina
Geopolitical position, enormous energy resource potential and ecological significance of the Arctic region have been drawing attention of the entire world community since early 21st century. Incontestably, it is a major constituent of internal and foreign policy of the Arctic states and regional international organizations. At the same time, not only the Arctic littoral states are interested in the region, but also states with no access to the Arctic (for instance, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Italy etc.), as well as several international organizations that have never before been involved into the Arctic affairs (e.g., the European Union (EU), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ).
Russia plays a crucial role in the Arctic region. Historically, Russia has always tended northwards. As a result, the polar zone (almost half of the Polar circle arch - 44%) became developed, that is twice as much then following Canada has.[①] The Arctic zone represents an integral part of Russian Federation that has been of paramount importance for the state. Russia’s back down at the turn of the 20th-21st century led to the space limitation of the Russian strategic influence in the South and West directions. However, Russia still holds its enough powerful positions in the North. Nowadays, the principal goal of Russia is to restore geopolitical power relying on the new principles of world politics of the 21st century.

Globalization is an ultimate factor in building Russia’s Arctic policy. Owing to it, all concerned parties have gradually embarked on cooperation with each other: not only nongovernmental organizations, but also multinational companies, cities, etc. As a result, nowadays the Arctic policy consists of two tiers: an international one – with government involvement, as well as a transnational one engaging negotiations between multinational companies and civil society. That is why Russia is now facing a challenge to elaborate such a model that would put to use different mechanisms of effective cooperation, both on state and non-state levels.

The aim of this article is to identify the essence, main trends and prospects of Russian Arctic policy within a new global context. The agenda question is as follows: how Russia should govern the Arctic zone in new global conditions?

I. New Trends in Global Politics

Many experts, who carry out research in the field of global political transformation processes, are unanimous that the latest phase of the transitional period in evolution of the international system from traditional international (interstate) relations to a more complicated system of relationships came to a close in the 2000s. Consequently, these researchers define variously the period of late 20th – early 21st as a turning point – as an “age of transition” or as a “bifurcation point”, etc. The discourse touches upon qualitative structural changes in the international community, deviation from interstate interactions in the framework of the order of Westphalia and even the collapse of the state-centrist model as a result of emergence of numerous non-state actors and formation of new tiers (e.g., transnational) and forms of interaction (e.g., global networks).[②]

By the end of the first decade of 21st century, the nature of international relations has undergone significant changes; as a result new features of the system finally have come into existence.

Firstly, it is a non-polar and multi-actor world order of the 21st century. On the one hand, biggest states are still playing a leading role in shaping political world order and that has found its expression in such informal entities as the G8, G20, BRICS, etc. On the other hand, international institutions are also being actively engaged in this process along with the developed states. These institutions act as an element of the new world order, as well as a testing field, which is settling for compromising positions of the developed nations and more often than not state and non-state actors (e.g. cooperation between transnational corporations, NGOs and nation-states within the UN).

Secondly, transnationalization is a process that clearly shapes modern international development and provides for the existence of multiple levels, interdependence and mutual vulnerability of the 21st century world order from many angles. Transnationalization represents an objective result of the globalization process and has meant in all periods of time redistribution of power authorities between interdependent nation-state and non-state actors that is necessary in the globalized world for resolving global problems. In other words it is global cooperation whereby each and every actor is responsible for their aspect of cooperation (for example, cooperation between Russian government and WWF on biodiversity reduction). It is important to underline that transnationalism[③] allows to find a compromise between the approach of absolute sovereignization (only nations are actors of international relations) and the internationalization approach (governance without any significant role of nation states). The sovereignization means an assertion by nation states their national interests and development only classical forms of international cooperation. However, it is absolutely obvious that this approach does not correspond to the new global demands. Today states cannot realize their policy effectively without transnational context. Global problems (climate change, energy deficit etc.) urge the nations to the cooperation with transnational actors. As to the internationalization, it is based on idea “an universal heritage of humanity”. It implies creation of a supranational institution and a principle of extraterritoriality, significant reduction in sovereignty of the states throughout all spheres (for example, the Antarctic Treaty).

And finally comes emergence of global issues and new challenges, as well as threats in global politics. For the first time in history, they threaten existence of the mankind. This factor urges the international community to become closer and search for new ways and instruments to cooperate as well as to govern global political processes in the state of globalization.

The features mentioned above are a compulsive evidence of the modern world development. As a consequence, it is sensible to note that the transitional period in evolution of the world order had finally rounded off by the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century.

A new global situation requires us to search for new forms of cooperation and instruments to govern all the processes mentioned above. In other words, there is a necessity to find new opportunities for successful governance, i.e., such global governance that would allow the international community to take on a “big collective responsibility in many spheres”.

In the contemporary world, global politics is represented as a tool for political action relevant not only to states, but also to all contemporary actors (international governmental organizations, international nongovernmental organizations, transnational corporations, etc.). Diversity of the modern world makes it necessary to shape a new paradigm of political culture that implies putting first not rivalry and domination (as it used to be during the time of international politics), but rather the issue of power allocation and sensible governance for the global society.[④] The main objective of global politics as an instrument for global governance is to adjust interests of the majority of state and non-state actors, so as to assure that a possible havoc within a structure can be prevented and urgent issues can be resolved. First and foremost, we are now witnessing formation of the new global political model of governance, i.e. the state – business – civil society model, which was established in the framework of the e-government concept and which can also be found within the concept of sustainable development. This model has been partially brought into life due to the UN Global Compact, in national and regional projects of e-governments (the USA, France, the UK, e-Europe, etc.). So far as the methods of governance are concerned, global politics possesses many tools that include both classical and new methods:
--Establishment of alliances and coalitions of states; process of compromising positions of nation-states on bilateral and multilateral basis; classical and e-diplomacy, information warfare, etc. (nation states);
--Business-diplomacy, negotiation, integration, transnationalization, etc. (business);
--Dialog, discussion, negotiation, culture exchange, IT, the Internet, global mass media, etc., (civil society institutions).
These new methods allow creating new types of transnational relations: state-to-business, state-to-civil society, business-to-civil society. Let us apply this concept on the Arctic case.

II. The Arctic as a Global Geopolitical Center

For a long period of time the Arctic region was perceived as terra nullius. This mysterious territory was completely ice covered, characterized by extreme climate conditions. In spite of expeditions to the Arctic Ocean, it remained not completely explored until 20th century and, consequently, the world community did not pay any attention to the Arctic. This situation has changed at the end of 20th century because of the impacts of climate change and globalization and also new geopolitical environment.

In the 20th century the two classics of geopolitics — Halford John Mackinder and Nicholas John Spykman pinpointed key terms that help to understand modern geopolitical events. As such, Mackinder introduced the term “the World Island” or axis space of the world (the Heartland). He wrote that who rules the Heartland commands the World Island; who rules the World Island commands the World.[⑤] In his turn, Spykman suggested that the key territory is not in the center of Eurasian continent, but rather in the periphery of Eurasia, which he called the Rimland.[⑥] Inside of the World Island there are energy zones of Eurasia, important energy transport corridor and coastal lands. Obviously, that the northern border of “the axis space of the world” is the Russian Arctic. And at the beginning of the second decade of 21st century these geopolitical theories have become ever more topical.

The modern geopolitical conditions at the beginning of 21st century make the Arctic as a center of global interests:

1, The Arctic in 21st century is the last vast part of planet that does not have any clear juridical status. That is why “the big game” – “cold fever” is beginning”. According to international judicial doctrine the Arctic is “the area of the Earth within the Arctic Circle (66°33'N), centered on the North Pole”.[⑦] The Arctic has an area of 21 million square kilometers and it takes 1/6 of the Earth’s surface. The Arctic region consists of a vast, ice-covered ocean, surrounded by treeless permafrost. Under international law (UNCLOS), no country currently owns the North Pole or the region of the Arctic Ocean surrounding it. But 5 countries (“Arctic Ocean Coastal States”): Russia, the United States, Canada, Norway and Denmark (via Greenland) share a border with the frozen Arctic Ocean.[⑧] They are limited to an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 200 nautical miles (370 km; 230 mi) adjacent to their coasts. Apart from that, 3 more Arctic States control territory above Arctic Circle: Finland, Iceland, and Sweden.[⑨] The Arctic provides a homeland for many indigenous peoples, and including altogether some 4 million residents.[⑩]

2, The Arctic includes sizable natural resources (oil, gas, minerals, fresh water, fish and forest, if to include the subarctic). The United States Geological Survey estimates that 22 % of the world's oil and natural gas could be located beneath the Arctic.[11] This factor is important in the context of the rising global demands for oil and gas.

3, There are two strategically important routes in global dimension sea in the Arctic: The Northern Sea Route (belongs to Russia) — is a shipping lane officially defined by Russian legislation from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, the shortest way from Europe to Asia and the Northwest Passage (belongs to Canada) — sea route that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

4, In the modern world all the developed countries (economic and political leaders) take place in the Northern hemisphere. It means that the mainstream of world economy goes to the North and this circumstance would modify the future geopolitical and geo-economic world structure.

The “New North” concept by an American scientist Laurence C. Smith, which was introduced in 2010, can be regarded as a modern interpretation of classic geopolitical theories.[12] According to this conception in the modern world the axis of the Earth moves not from the West towards the East and not from the North towards the South, as many scientists suppose. Rather, it moves towards the “New North” that is the next phase of world history. The “New North” or the “Northern Rim” region consists of 8 northern rim countries — or NORCs, as L. C. Smith calls them: Canada, Finland, Greenland (Denmark), Island, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the USA. Smith believes that these 8 countries will control the vast territory (land and sea) and it corresponds to the term “New Northern Rim”. Therefore, in the beginning 21st century the geopolitical world center moves towards the North - the Arctic.

Under these circumstances modern Russia, as an owner of the largest part of the Arctic space, could dramatically benefit from the Northern territories, but taking into account new global trends. Russian interests have always tended to the North (from the Novgorod Republic period and Arctic trips of coast-dwellers[13] to explorers of the North Pole) and nowadays the north vector of Russian policy is one of the top priorities.

III. Russian Arctic Policy: Domestic Dimension

As it was mentioned above Russia has always been interested in the Arctic. For centuries Russia benefited from this region. However, in economic respect until early 20th century the Russian Arctic territories were used mainly by indigenous people, which had traditional economy (fishing, hunting and reindeer breeding).For the first time in history Russia claimed its rights to the Northern lands and seas at the state level in 16th century. Only in early 20th century Russian Arctic lands embarked on economic development. It included development of extractive industry, fishing, transportation links etc. In 1916 Russian Empire had declared the Arctic “wedge” to be its legitimate possessions: from the North Pole towards the extreme point of the Western border (with Norway) and towards the Chukchi Peninsula (the extreme point of the Eastern border).[14] It was marked on all Soviet maps. Thus, the Empire took over an enormous sector in the Arctic Ocean. Later on in 1926 this principle was confirmed by the USSR.[15] Hence, nobody disputed borders of Soviet polar territories. Between 1918 and 1991, the Soviet Arctic was a primarily closed nationalized space, due to its military-strategic location. But at the same time in the USSR period the Arctic economic was actively developed (extensive resource extraction, road building, urban building, settlement of northern territories, etc.) and in late 1980s population in the Arctic increased by many times owing to migration from other country’s regions. Yet, after the collapse of the USSR the Arctic was abandoned (population decreased, many towns were deserted, the Northern Sea Route was buried in oblivion, several military bases were brought down, etc.), but Arctic territories were not lost by Russia during a geopolitical collapse in 1990s the collapse of the USSR, while Southern and Western territories were lost. It weakened Russia’s geopolitical weight for 20 years. The Northern direction in foreign policy became paramount.

The modern period of Russian Arctic policy fell on early 2000s. Russia again moved northwards. The Northern direction in Russian foreign policy became paramount. According to the expertly opinion, “a focus on the region features increasingly in Russian domestic and foreign policy discourse, particularly since Vladimir Putin’s second tenure”.[16] Today the Ministry for Regional Development of the Russian Federation represents a key governmental structure is shaping the Russian Arctic policy.

Nevertheless, stance held by the Russian government on the Arctic territories is still unclear for the world community. This controversy stems from the particularities in the legislative system. As such, Russia did make numerous attempts at adopting a unilateral law that would regulate Arctic related issues. For example, in 1998 basing on the instructions of the Ministry of Regional Development the Federation Council Committee for Northern Affairs and Indigenous Peoples [17] worked out a draft of the Federal law On the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation. The aim of this document is to turn the Arctic territories into a separate object of the state policy. This law had been presented twice in the State Duma, but was never passed. It is likely to be passed in 2013.[18]

In 2008 Russian President approved of the Fundamentals of Russian Federation State Policy in the Arctic through 2020 and Beyond.[19] Note-worthy is the fact that Russia was the first Arctic state to articulate its national interests in this region in response to the new global reality. This document gives certain general policy guidelines, but is written in the form of memorandum, with many general formulations. The next document has to be the Russian Arctic Strategy with details and figures. The project of the “Strategy of the Russian Arctic Zone development and safeguarding of national security through 2020 and Beyond”[20] was published on the website of the Ministry of Regional Development of the Russian Federation, but this document is still discussed.

According to the Foundations of Russian State Policy in the Arctic “the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation is regarded as that segment of the Arctic which entirely or partially includes territories of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia); the Murmansk and Arkhangelsk oblast; the Krasnoyarsk Kray; the Nenets, Yamalo-Nenets and Chukotka Autonomous Okrugs, as defined by the USSR Council of Ministers State Commission on the Arctic dated April 22nd, 1989; as well as the lands and islands, mentioned in the Decree of the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee dated April 15th, 1926, ‘On the Declaration of Soviet land and island territories located in the Arctic Ocean’, and adjacent to the aforementioned, internal waterways, territorial waters, exclusive economic zone and the Russian Federation’s continental shelf, within which Russia possesses sovereign rights and jurisdictions in accordance with international law”.[21] In this document the Russian fundamental national interests in the Arctic are formulated as follows: 1) getting the resources; 2) maintaining peace, stability and cooperation in the region; 3) protecting fragile ecosystems as well as interests of indigenous peoples; 4) exploiting the potential of the North Sea Route – the national transportation artery of Russia. The Arctic is regarded as a zone of peace and cooperation.

Apart from that, this document lays down the list of urgent issues in the Russian Arctic zone that influence the Arctic policy formation:
(a) Extreme natural and climatic conditions, including the permanent ice cover or drifting ice in the Arctic seas;
(b) A circumscribed character of industrial-commercial territorial development and low population density;
(c) Remoteness from major industrial centers, high resource intensity, and dependence of economic activity and the population’s welfare on fuel, consumer goods, and essential commodities supplies from Russia’s other regions;
(d) Low stability of ecosystems, which would guarantee biological and climate equilibrium, and their vulnerability to even minor anthropogenic interferences.[22]

It is important to note that bearing in mind this list of challenges; two approaches to the Arctic policy formation were laid down in the Russian public community. The first approach, ultraliberal approach, holds that the economy of the Russian Arctic is not competitive because of climate conditions. Whereas the second approach, national patriotic approach, requires the immediate large-scale modernization of the Arctic economy.[23] The discussion between supporters of both approaches is still raging. At the same time, understanding of the strategic significance of the Arctic region for the Russian future is becoming predominant in the Russian public community, let alone influence of external factor as the world community sparked off interest in the Arctic nowadays. The global financial crisis (2008-2009) has heightened attractiveness of many Russian projects in the Arctic that have international dimension. Moreover, despite post-Soviet crisis in the Russian Arctic, Russia still has a lot of advantages as an owner of the largest part of the Arctic:

1, The Northern territories occupy 1/3 country’s territory (9 million km2). Nowadays it accounts for 11% national income of Russia, as there live only 1.95 million people, which amounts to about 1.4% However, this figure indicates the highest rate from overall population among other Arctic nations.[24]

2, Russia possesses the biggest part of energy resources in the Arctic (about 60.1% from all the arctic resources). Russian Arctic continental shelf may supply energy products for Russia, as well as the world energy market.[25] Russian politicians note that the goal of Russia was to turn the Arctic into the Russian energy potential of 21st century[26] and the Arctic would make a strategic resource base for Russia.[27] Russia's Energy Strategy up to 2030 also pays attention to the Arctic region: “active development of oil and gas indus­tries mineral resource base is to start in the Eastern Siberia and Far East, shelf regions, including Russian sector of the Arctic, as well as on the Yamal Peninsula, in the Gulfs of Ob and Taz, in the European North and Caspian region”.[28]

3, Russia has been holding the Northern Sea Route and Russia will “build and develop infrastructure for the Northern Sea Route making transit between Europe and Asia possible”.[29] It is the shortest route from Europe to Asia: Hamburg-Yokohama is only 6,600 sea miles, while through the Suez Canal – 11,400 miles. Restoration of the Northern Sea Route in the new climate conditions will move Russia from periphery of the world economic system to the center. More importantly, Russia is the one country that runs a civil icebreaker fleet. Russia has about 26 icebreakers, while the USA has only 3, Denmark 4, Norway 1, and Canada 12.

Thus, world geopolitical transformations at the turn of the 20th-21st century again drive Russia to the North, to the Arctic. Due to Russian Arctic history modern Russia holds bargaining chips in the new global geopolitical game: the biggest territory, energy resources, the Northern Sea Route, icebreaker fleet, etc. Another obvious advantage of Russia lies with rich historical experience of Arctic development. Taking into account all these advantages modernization of the Russian Arctic zone can be the most important condition of survival and also a prerequisite of Russian power extension in the world. Should “the Arctic century” come, then the 21st century could become “the century of Arctic Russia”.

IV. Russian Arctic Policy: International Dimension

When first nations entered the Arctic, relations between different groups of people in the Arctic had already begun (for example, private travels, exchange of commodities and experiences, information, migrations, etc.). The Second World War intensified an international activity in the Arctic, but mainly in the military sphere. During the Cold War the Arctic was a zone of confrontation between two superpowers. Finally, modern international cooperation in the Arctic has begun to develop in the late 1980s and has born international institutional structure. In 1987 it was the USSR that initiated the start of the active international cooperation in the Arctic (Gorbachev speech in Murmansk – so-called “the Murmansk initiative”): The move was aimed at transforming the northern part of the globe from being a sensitive military theatre to becoming an international “zone of peace”. This objective was to be achieved through:
Establishment of the nuclear weapons-free zone in Northern Europe,
Restrictions on naval activities in Arctic seas,
Development of transborder cooperation throughout such areas as resource development, scientific exploration, indigenous people's affairs, environment protection and marine transportation.[30]

These initiatives marked the outset of the end of the Cold War era in the Arctic and were supported by the Western community. As a result, the process of institutionalization of the international cooperation in the Arctic began. A series of bilateral and multilateral initiatives were directed at resolving topical Arctic issues:
1, bilateral relationships between 8 Arctic states (The Arctic Cooperation Agreement of 1988 between the United States and Canada, USA/USSR Maritime Boundary Agreement 1990 etc.);
2, multilateral relationships within international organizations (the Arctic Council, Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC), Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region (CPAR) etc.);
3, conventional –a system of agreements was created (for example, Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears, 1973, The Arctic Cooperation Agreement of 1988 between the United States and Canada, Canada-USSR/Russian Agreements on cooperation in the Arctic and the North 1989 and 1992, USA/USSR Maritime Boundary Agreement 1990, etc.) and until recently the Arctic status has been regulated by national laws of the Arctic states as well as these agreements and conventions (in contrast to the Antarctic, which status is regulated by the Antarctic Treaty - 1959). All Arctic states have stipulated their fundamental national interests in the High North in the national Arctic strategies.[31]

In the aftermath of “the Murmansk initiative” M. Gorbachev supported the idea of signing the Russia – United States Maritime Boundary Agreement (1990) that was highly detrimental to USSR/Russia. “According to this agreement the USA took the part of USSR’s special economic zone and a sector of continental shelf (about 46,3 thousand km2) in the Bering Sea…”.[32] The policy of “Arctic concessions” was continued in 1997, when Russia ratified The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) (1982) and relinquished its specific rights to the Arctic territories. Russia lost its sovereign rights to 1.7 million km2 of the Arctic sector. “Russian northern policy, during the transitional 1990s, is best described as haphazard and focused primarily on ad hoc measures in response to economic and social crisis in the region”.[33]

In 2001 Russia submitted its claims to an extended continental shelf beyond its 200-mile (320 km) exclusive economic zone to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS). Russia asserted that two underwater mountain chains - the Lomonosov and Mendeleev ridges - within the Russian sector of the Arctic were extensions of the Eurasian continent and thus part of the Russian continental shelf. Interests of Russian Federation over the course of negotiations over the Arctic Ocean seafloor are represented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 2007, a Russian expedition named Arktika 2007, led by Artur Chilingarov, planted a Russian flag on the seabed below the North Pole. This expedition is regarded as a symbol of “Russian return in the Arctic”. From then on Russia has been accused by some countries of carrying out an expansionist policy in the Arctic region. However the official Russian position, presented in “Fundamentals”, boil down to as following: Russia, as a biggest Arctic power, is set on defending its national interests in the Arctic, albeit at the same time Russia is open for all forms of the active international cooperation:
--Russia plans to continue bilateral and multilateral cooperation with all arctic states in all possible spheres;
--Russia advocates consolidation of regional organizations as the Arctic Council and The Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC);
--Russia is prepared for effective use of the North Sea Route for international shipping;
--Finally, Russia welcomes any cooperation with some commercial and noncommercial organizations and non-arctic states and organizations.[34]

The Arctic region is mentioned also in Russia's National Security Strategy till 2020. This document holds that long-term attention of Russian international policy will focus on “the possession of energy sources, including the Middle East, in the Barents Sea and in other parts of the Arctic, the Caspian Sea basin and Central Asia”. It is important to underline the fact that nowadays the Arctic has become a self-sufficient direction of the Russian foreign policy not because of military policy or security needs, rather because of global energy demand as a base of the export and economic welfare of Russia. This document states that Russia’s foreign policy makes protection of Russia’s national interests within the framework of international law the cornerstone. Russia “will conduct a rational and pragmatic foreign policy that excludes costly confrontation, including a new arms race”.[35]

Virtually, nowadays all Arctic states has a lot of common in their strategies: “to protect their sovereignty in the Arctic, assure their sustainable economic development, protect the environment, protect the interests of local indigenous peoples, and enhance scientific research of the Arctic etc.”[36] Thus, for all of them the main goal of their Arctic activity is to develop the mutual cooperation in all spheres in the region. At the same time Arctic states have faced mutual obstacles on border issues (for example, Denmark and Canada dispute ownership of Hans Island in the Nares Straight, maritime boundaries between Canada and USA in the Beaufort Sea, between Canada and Denmark in Baffin Bay remain under dispute and Greenland, Russia and Canada have competing territorial claims over the sovereignty of the Lomonosov Ridge). Russia has been confirming all its friendly expectancies in practice: “Russia is clearly indicating a wish for friendly relations and cooperation with other states, including its Arctic neighbors and commitment to International Law”.[37] In the recent years Russia and Norway have demonstrated the most successful bilateral cooperation so far: after 40 years of discussions Russia and Norway signed a maritime border agreement on the Barents Sea in 2010 - the Treaty between the Russian Federation and the Kingdom of Norway on Maritime Delimitation and Cooperation in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean.[38] This document opens up new perspectives for the continuation of the extensive and efficient international cooperation among the Arctic states. Still, some Russian experts suppose that this agreement does not correspond to Russian national interests. They regard this agreement as an analogue of the Russia – United States Maritime Boundary Agreement (1990). Future joint energy development is also expected, because Russia runs out of the technology to develop offshore deposits efficiently, and Norway, in return, could share its success experience.

Russia is a participant of the majority of international organizations in the Arctic: the Arctic Council, Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region (CPAR), the Barents Euro-Arctic Region, etc. The Arctic Council is a key institution in modern Arctic cooperation and it is noted in strategic documents of all Arctic states. This institution is an intergovernmental platform, which addresses issues faced not only by the Arctic governments, but also be the indigenous people of the Arctic. 14 May 2011 in Nuuk (Greenland) the Arctic community decided to strengthen the Arctic Council by establishing a permanent secretariat with its own budget. Apart from that 8 Arctic states (including Russia) signed the Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic.[39] This is the first pan-Arctic document in the Arctic history, the next one will be on cooperation in the Arctic marine oil spills preparedness and response. The second pan-Arctic document – the Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic[40] was signed on May, 2013.

Russia is open for cooperation with non-Arctic players. First of all, Russia is interested in energy cooperation with German, French, British and other foreign companies that are affluent in expertise, modern technologies and are prepared to invest their financial resources into development of the Arctic region (for example,  the Nord Stream project, Shtokman Development AG project, etc.). The second prospective field of this cooperation is mutual scientific research of the Arctic. For example, the efficient cooperation in the International Polar Year can be mentioned, where it was joined by the scientists from not only Arctic states, but also Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Belgium, China, France, India, Spain, the United Kingdom, etc. The aim of the IPY is international research collaboration on the Polar region issues. And, finally, Russia needs non-Arctic partners in restoring the North Sea Route that connects Europe and Asia (in 2010-2013 the series of successful shipping trips were carried by Russian, German and China companies).

Thus, Russia was the state that initiated international cooperation in the Arctic in the 1980s and in continuation of this democratic trend USSR/Russia carried out a policy of “Arctic concessions” during 1990-s. It led to unfortunate results for the Russian Arctic policy: Russia lost a part of its Arctic territories and world community keeps on to wait and demand new concessions from Russia in the Arctic region. Thus, some Arctic states (USA, Finland and Island) and non-Arctic states (China, Japan, South Korea, and France, etc.) suggest considering “the Arctic is a human heritage”. It means creation of a supranational institution and extraterritoriality, reduction in sovereignty of the Arctic states (first of all Russian). As a result, Russia again has to prove its rights on its Arctic territory today and protect its national interests taking into account new global trends. Nevertheless, the world community considers the modern Russian Arctic policy as an expansionist one (Realpolitik). Russia per se takes part in the “Arctic informational war” today. In this context, first and foremost it is important to carry out a pro-active informational promotion of the foundations for Russian Arctic policy and Russian Arctic projects. The second important task for Russian government is to make a compromise between Russian national interests in the Arctic region and globalization.

V. Russian Arctic Policy: Transnational Dimension?

Globalization remains the main tendency in development of the modern world. Globalization has thornily posed issues in front of the Arctic states, such as sovereignty, establishment of their jurisdiction over national resources and transport routes, sustainable development of the Arctic, the rights of indigenous people, scientific research of the Arctic, etc. If previously issues related to politics and national security (“hard power”) were predominant in the Arctic policy, whereas in the modern period economic and social issues (“soft power”) have come to the forefront. At the outset of the 21st century the world community has drawn its attention to the Arctic due to the fact that military-strategic role of the region was enhanced by its strategic position in the global economy (owing to energy resources and transit routes). Thus, the economy of the North is being integrated into the global world system and significance of the Arctic rises ever more in the world. It puts the wind of multinational companies in the Arctic. This integration is regulated by national programs that foster the cooperation between states and multinational companies. Obviously, the Arctic and the Russian Arctic Zone cannot be isolated from the global world, as the region has been involved into the globalization processes.[41] Consequently, during the last 20-30 years all interested parties have gradually begun participation in the Arctic cooperation side by side with nation-states: not only nongovernmental organizations, but also indigenous communities, scientific organizations, along with multinational companies. Nowadays, all these actors compose the common political picture of the Arctic region and develop the Arctic transnational networks: these actors are transforming the traditional international cooperation into the transnational cooperation.

Noteworthy are the following groups of non-state Arctic actors that create new channel of cooperation in the Arctic:
--International nongovernmental organizations (NGO) (The International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), the International Red Cross Federation, World Wide Fund for Nature – Arctic Programme, Greenpeace, Northern Forum (NF), the Northern Intercity Conference of Mayors, International Arctic Sciences Committee, International Union for Circumpolar Health, Northern Research Network, University of the Arctic, etc.);
--Arctic indigenous communities (Arctic Athabaskan Council, Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East, Inuit Circumpolar Conference, Aleut International Association,  Saami Council, etc.);
--Multinational companies (Gazprom, Statoil Hydro, Total, etc.).
Mainly these actors act in “soft” spheres: environment, social development, human rights, culture, education etc.

An outcome of globalization is not only an increase in quantities of actors in the Arctic game, but also in forms of their cooperation as well. As such, the governments of Arctic regions are actively developing transnational contacts. For example, there is the International Association of Mayors of Northern Cities that unites cities and towns of 10 countries. Another example is the Northern Forum that presents a non-profit, international organization that consists of sub-national and regional governments from some northern states (e.g., Canada (Quebec, etc.), as well as China (Heilongjiang Province), Iceland (Akureyri), Japan (Hokkaido Prefecture), Republic of Korea (Gangwon Province), Russia (Komi Republic, Yakutia, etc.), USA (Alaska, etc.).Apart from that, Alaska and Sakha Republic are active in the international relations and occasionally they operate independently from their states. The Finnish province Lapland has been conducting its own regional “foreign” policy.[42]

Today there are following forms of international/transnational cooperation in the Arctic:
1, Bilateral Cooperation between the Arctic states;
2, Cooperation between the Arctic States parliaments (for example, The Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region, CPAR);
3, Multilateral cooperation within the framework of international governmental and non-governmental organizations (for example, the UN, the Arctic Council, the Northern Forum, etc.);
4, Regional cooperation of the Northern (for instance, “The Northern Dimension”, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council);
5, Cooperation of the multinational companies (for example, Shtokman Development includes Gazprom (Russia), Total (France) and Statoil (Norway));
6, Cooperation between organizations of indigenous people of the Arctic (Inuit Circumpolar Conference, Aleut International Association, Saami Council).[43]

It is noteworthy that the non-state actors have added new fresh dynamism to the process of interaction, where as transborder cooperation features a new ground for development. Thus, the Arctic affairs are moving from state preponderance and militarization towards human security, environmental issues and civil society. The new role of the Arctic requires the world community and Arctic states to work out new approaches on how to govern these territories. Today the Arctic states cannot realize their arctic policy without transnational context. Global problems (climate change, energy deficit, etc.) urge the nations to cooperate with transnational actors.

Given uniqueness of the Arctic, it can be regarded as a world experimental platform for implementation of a new transnational governance model: ‘nation-state – business – civil society’. Therefore, the goal of this model is to adjust the interests of the world actors’ majority (both state and non-state) to address urgent issues.

Russia is an active participant of international cooperation in the Arctic, but when it comes to a transnational aspect of cooperation, there is a kind of skeptic view of the Russian expertly and political community to this idea. One of reasons of this skepticism has taken root in the Western origin of the transnationalism.[44] Transnational concept is considered to be a theory, which always contradicted to Russian national interests. The processes of opening and accepting a quantity of “foreign” non-state actors into the Russian Arctic Zone gives rise to anxiety in Russia and is associated with the Arctic internationalization. Thus, two terms can be identified: transnationalization and internationalization. This approach is a false one. I would like to repeat transnationalism does not exclude the key role of nation state in the Arctic cooperation. The matter concerns a redistribution of power authorities between interdependent nation-state and non-state actors in some sphere (for example, environmental protection, human rights, etc.). This concept does not conflict with Russian national interests and on the contrary gives to Russian Federation new prospects of Russian Arctic policy within a new global context.  Consequently, internationalization implies creation of a supranational institution and a principle of extraterritoriality, reduction in sovereignty of the Arctic states throughout all spheres (for example, the Antarctic Treaty). Transnationalization represents an objective result of the globalization process and has meant in all periods of time redistribution of power authorities between nation-state and non-state actors that is necessary in the globalized world for resolving global problems. In other words it is global cooperation whereby each and every actor is responsible for their aspect of cooperation (for example, cooperation between Russian government and WWF on biodiversity reduction).

Thus, at a first sight Russian stance on Arctic cooperation has pragmatic grounds: bilateral relationships and A5 projects take preference. Yet, virtually the modern Russian Arctic policy needs the transnational principle of cooperation, as development of resources in difficult access areas, development of Arctic space and addressing many regional problems, which have global dimension (climate changes, demographic crisis, biodiversity reduction etc.) is difficult for successful implementation without sufficient foreign direct investments (FDI), modern technologies and new governance approaches.

Transnational tendency has been discernible within Russian Arctic Policy since 2008, when The Ilulissat Declaration of the five Arctic States was signed. The ministers of A5 agreed to address the Arctic Ocean issues within the frameworks of international law: “This framework provides a solid foundation for responsible management by the five coastal States and other users of this Ocean through national implementation and application of relevant provisions”.[45] In this case, transnational cooperation means diversity forms of cooperation:
--Cooperation between the state coast guards;
--Cooperation between departments of emergency;
--Coastal interaction;
--Cooperation between the Arctic states and international organizations, multinational companies.[46]

At the same time, for the present it is difficult enough to mark out the transnational part in the Russian Arctic policy. The main goal of Russian Arctic policy has involved restoration of its strong positions in the Arctic after the post-Soviet crisis. Adoption of Fundamentals of Russian Federation State Policy in the Arctic through 2020 and Beyond in 2008 was the first attempt to formulate Russian national interests in the Arctic in response to the new global reality. However, it is important to underline that the transnationalization process is an objective trend of the modern world development. Under these circumstances, the Russian Federation may opt for one of 2 ways of development in the Arctic. The first one is “self-flowing”, i.e., carrying out the Arctic policy only at the international level and do not accept any transnational trends and actors. This approach is hazardous and shortsighted, because sooner or later non-state actors may enter the Russian Arctic with their rules. In this case, Russia would have to accept their rules as a reality. The question arises: “Would these rules be corresponding to Russian national interests in the Arctic?” The second way supposes that Russia will do the first step to the transnational cooperation on its own, as it happened to international cooperation in the end of 1980s. But today it has to be a well-considered decision based on the clear strategy of development of transnational cooperation in the Arctic and Russian participation in this process, taking into account Russian national interests. The most prospective spheres for the transnational governance model in the Russian Arctic zone are:
--Resource development (for example, the Nord Stream project, Shtokman Development AG project, etc.);
--Environmental projects (for example, the Arctic program of WWF, etc.);
--Scientific researches (for example, International Polar Year, The Lena-2011 expedition is a joint Russian-German project that will be studying Siberian climate and climate change, as well as gathering information about the Russian continental shelf, etc.);
--Using the North Sea Route - Era of Trans-Arctic Shipping (in 2010-2013 the series of shipping trips was realized by Russian, German and China companies), etc.

VI. Conclusion

The modern geopolitical situation in the world and the necessity for further social and economic development are making Russia actively carry out the Arctic policy. For modern Russia, as an owner of the biggest part of the Arctic space, the Northern territories have been of strategic significance through all times. Nowadays, the northern vector of Russian policy is the most desirable one. Due to rich Russian Arctic history, modern Russia holds all the bargaining chips in the new global geopolitical game: the biggest territory, energy recourses, the Northern Sea Route, icebreaker fleet, etc. Given all these advantages, modernization of the Russian Arctic zone can be the most important pre-requisite of survival and extension of Russian power in the world.

The basic interest of Russia is to preserve the Arctic as a stable region of international cooperation without any border disputes, military confrontation or arms race. Significance of international cooperation in the Arctic increases for the Russian modernization today. The main goal of Russian Government is to reindustrialize the Russian Arctic zone. It requires a coordinated state program, which would unite potentials of the state and private business in the private-state partnership form. The consensus model “state - business – society” regarding the division of responsibility for the future of the Arctic zone (transnational governance) can be considered as the platform for this partnership. It is necessary to strike a balance between the Russian sovereign rights in the region and involvement of foreign investments in the industrial development. Cooperation with foreign partners in development of the Arctic can become a key trend in the Russian policy not only at the federal level, but also include all interested regions of Russian Federation, Russian companies and non-governmental organizations.

In the modern Russian Arctic policy the transnational principle of cooperation became urgent, because development of resources in difficult access areas, development of Arctic spaces and resolving many regional problems which have global dimension (climate changes, demographic crisis, biodiversity reduction, etc.) can be hardly implemented without foreign investments, modern technologies and new governance approaches.

For Russia it is important to find an adequate solution of Arctic world politics challenges. Evidently, it cannot be a solution by force, because this traditional way of international policy in the modern interdependent environment is dangerous. “Hard power”, based on the military power, may entail a global catastrophe. That is why it is necessary to use world politics tools, which lean on “soft’ and “smart” power where the most important issue is rational governance. Transnational governance model takes into account interests of the Arctic states and transnational tendencies. This model accepts the experience of international cooperation in the Arctic and new tendencies in governance.

Thus, Russia has a chance to become a “top-manager” in the Arctic region, using its geopolitical, economic, transport (icebreaker fleet), energy, urban opportunities and advantages. Russia can, therefore, become a state that will initiate ‘a global historic governance project’. ‘The Arctic Century’ is coming and the 21st century might become “the Arctic Russia Century”.

Source of documents:Global Review

more details:

[①]“The Arctic Region: Prospects for Development,” The Russian Vector Information- Analytical Journal, No. 4 (31), 2008.
[②] Joseph S. Nye and Robert O. Keohane, “Transnational Relations and World Politics: An Introduction,” International Organization, Vol. 25, No. 3, Summer, 1971; A.-M. Slauter, A New World Order, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004; Manuel Castells ed., The Network Society: A Cross-Cultural Perspective, Cheltenham, UK: Edward Edgar Pub., 2004; Manuel Castells and Gustavo Cardoso eds., The Network Society: From Knowledge to Policy, Center for Transatlantic Relations, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, 2006.
[③] Nye and Keohane, “Transnational Relations and World Politics”.
[④] N. A. Vasilieva and N. M. Mezhevich, Philosophic Aspects of World Politics, St. Pb.: Publishing House of the St. Petersburg State University, 2006, part. 2, p. 11.
[⑤] H. J. Mackinder, “The Geographical Pivot of History,” in Democratic Ideals and Reality, Washington, DC: National Defence University Press, 1996, pp. 175–194.
[⑥] N. J. Spykmen, The Geography of the Peace, New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1944.
[⑦] Legal regime of the Arctic,
[⑧] United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982, depts/los/convention_agreements/convention_overview_convention.htm.
[⑨] L. N. Аnisimov, “Some Peculiarities of the Arctic Legal Regime,” World and Politics, No. 4 (55), April 2011, p. 67.
[⑩] D. Bogoyavlenskiy and E. Siggner, “The Arctic Demographic Statistics,” AHDR/AHDR chapters/Russian version/02_Demographia.pdf.
[11] An Assessment conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), “Circum-Arctic Resource Appraisal: Estimates of Undiscovered Oil and Gas North of the Arctic Circle,” USGS Fact Sheet, 2008-3049, 2008,
[12] L. C. Smith, The New North: The World in 2050, London: Profile Books, 2011, p. 320.
[13] Inhabitants of White Sea and Barents Sea coast (in Russian “pomori”).
[14] Russian Government Note, “To Governments of Allied and Friendly States,” September 20, 1916.
[15] The Decree of the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR, “On the Announcement of Areas and Islands Located in the Arctic Ocean as the Territory of the USSR,” April 15, 1926.
[16] K. Zysk, “Russia’s Arctic Strategy: Ambitions and Constraints,” Joint Force Quarterly, Issue 57, 2010,
[17] Federation Council Committee for Northern Affairs and Indigenous Peoples was liquidated during the reform period in 2003 – 2004.
[18] “Ice to be Broken in 2012 with New Law on Russian Arctic in RIA Novosti,” November 1, 2011,
[19] “The Fundamentalsof The Russian Federation’s State Policy In The Arctic Until 2020 And Beyond,”
[20] The project of the “Strategy of the Russian Arctic Zone Development and Safeguarding of National Security through 2020 and Beyond,” 1678.html.
[21] Ibid.
[22] The Fundamentals of The Russian Federation’s State Policy in The Arctic Until 2020 And Beyond, 2010,
[23] ВороновК. Арктические горизонты стратегии России: современная динамика [VoronovK, “Arctic Prospects of Russian Strategy: A Modern Dynamic], 2010, арктические-горизонты-стратегии-россии-современная-динамика?page=0,0.
[24] Ibid.
[25] L. Zernova, “The Road to the White  Silence,” Novayagazeta, February 2, 2006, http://www.
[26] D. A. Medvedev Speech on the Security Council Meeting, “About Russian National Interests Defense in the Arctic,” September 17, 2008, 63374type63378_206540.shtml.
[27] “The Foundations Of The Russian Federation’s State Policy In The Arctic Until 2020 And Beyond,” November 2010,
[28] Energy Strategy of Russia for the period up to 2030 (ES-2030) approved by decree No. 1715-r of the Government of the Russian Federation dated 13 November 2009. “Energy Strategy of Russia for the Period up to 2030,” Energy Policy, 2010, p. 66.
[29] The Fundamentals of The Russian Federation’s State Policy in The Arctic Until 2020 And Beyond.
[30] “The Speech of Mr. Gorbachev M.S. Murmansk 1987,” Pravda, October 2, 1987, No. 275 (25262),
[31] For example: Denmark, “Greenland and the Faroe Islands: Kingdom of Denmark Strategy for the Arctic (2011-2010)”; Canada’s Northern Strategy, Our North, Our Heritage, Our Future (2009), Statement on Canada's Arctic Foreign Policy, Minister Cannon (2010); Canada’s Arctic Foreign Policy Pamphlet (2010); Norwegian Government's strategy for the High North (2006); The Fundamentals of The Russian Federation’s State Policy In The Arctic Until 2020 And Beyond (2008); National Security Presidential Directive and Homeland Security Presidential Directive (2009); A Parliamentary Resolution on Iceland's Arctic Policy (2011); Finland’s strategy for the Arctic region (2010); Sweden’s Strategy for the Arctic Region (2011).
[32] S. Filatov, “Vojdelennaya Arktika,” Mejdunarodnayajizn, February 22, 2011.
[33] E. W. Rowe, “Russia’s Northern Policy: Balancing an ‘Open’ and ‘Closed’ North,” Russian Analytical Digest, No. 96, May 12, 2011, p. 2.
[34] The Fundamentals of The Russian Federation’s State Policy in The Arctic Until 2020 And Beyond.
[35] Russia’s National Security Strategy to 2020, May 12, 2009, No. 537, documents/99.html.
[36] A. Vasiliev, “Russian Perspective on International Cooperation in the Arctic,” Arctic Future Symposium 2011, The Arctic in a Time of a Change, October 12, 2011, The Royal Library of Belgium, Brussels, Belgium, vasiliev.pdf.
[37] J. Loe, “Driving Forces in Russian Arctic Policy,” Working Paper, Econ Pöyry, 2011,
[38] The Treaty between the Kingdom of Norway and the Russian Federation concerning Maritime Delimitation and Cooperation in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean, upload/SMK/Vedlegg/2010/avtale_engelsk.pdf.
[39] The Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic, Nuuk, 2011, signataure_21-Apr-2011.pdf.
[40] The Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic, 2013, documents-from-kiruna-ministerial-meeting?download=1767:agreement-on-cooperation-on-marine-oil-pollution-preparedness-and-respons-in-the-arctic.
[41] I. Mazur, “The Arctic is a Bifurcation Point in the Global World Development,” Century of Globalization, No. 2 (6), 2010,
[42] L. Heinen, “Circumpolar International Relations and Geopolitics,” in Arctic Human Development Report, AHDR, 2004, chapters/Russian version/12_Geopolitic.pdf.
[43] The Arctic Conservation,
[44] For the first time American researchers R. Keohane and J. Nye proposed the concept of transnationalism in the beginning of 1970s.
[45] Illulisat Declaration, May 28, 2008, 28-2008.html.
[46] Ibid.