In geopolitical terms, the Arctic is characterized by a number of unique features that set it apart from other regions. Its governance structures, the way Arctic states engage with one another, the way they tackle shared challenges and address disputes—all of these take a different form in the Arctic than they might elsewhere. But a major challenge to the Arctic status quo has emerged as a result of Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine, especially with its February 2022 invasion and the ongoing war there. As a result of that aggression, a host of countries joined together to implement a comprehensive sanctions regime and to isolate Moscow politically. That included the other Arctic states suspending participation in Arctic Council activities for the duration of Russia’s chairmanship of the organization. Effectively, engagement with Russia on everything from science and climate issues to Arctic search and Russia has ceased.
This raises important questions: Is the sort of engagement and cooperation that has characterized the Arctic for the past few decades still possible? If not now, will it be possible in the future? What are the long-term second- and third-order effects of halting engagement likely to be? And do the unique considerations in the Arctic region warrant an exception to the broader effort to punish and isolate Russia for its war in Ukraine?
To address these difficult questions, John Amble is joined on this episode of the MWI Podcast by Dr. Elizabeth Buchanan. The codirector of MWI’s Project 6633, an initiative focused on polar security, and a 1st Sea Lord Five Eyes fellow for the Royal Navy, she is also the author of a recently published book called Red Arctic: Russian Strategy Under Putin.
You can listen to the full conversation below, and if you aren’t already subscribed to the MWI Podcast, be sure to find it on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, TuneIn, or your favorite podcast app. While you’re there, please take a moment and give the podcast a rating or leave a review.
Image credit: kremlin.ru, via Wikimedia Commons