Handbook on Geopolitics and Security in the Arctic: The High North Between Cooperation and Confrontation [1st ed.] 9783030450045, 9783030450052

Against the backdrop of climate change and tectonic political shifts in world politics, this handbook provides an overvi

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Handbook on Geopolitics and Security in the Arctic: The High North Between Cooperation and Confrontation [1st ed.]
 9783030450045, 9783030450052

Table of contents :
Front Matter ....Pages i-xxiii
Front Matter ....Pages 1-1
A Two-Faced Russia? Civilian Interests and Great Power Politics in the High North (Jørgen Staun)....Pages 3-21
No UNCLOS, No Icebreakers, No Clue? U.S. Arctic Policy Through the Eyes of Congress (Victoria Herrmann, Lillian Hussong)....Pages 23-40
Arctic Geopolitics and Security from the Canadian Perspective (Adam Lajeunesse)....Pages 41-55
Norway’s High North Geopolitics: Continuities and Changes Through Three Decades (Christoph Humrich)....Pages 57-75
The Middleman—The Driving Forces Behind Denmark’s Arctic Policy (Jon Rahbek-Clemmensen, Line Jedig Nielsen)....Pages 77-94
Front Matter ....Pages 95-95
China’s Aspirations as a “Near Arctic State”: Growing Stakeholder or Growing Risk? (Sybille Reinke de Buitrago)....Pages 97-112
China in the Arctic and the Case of Greenland (Johannes Mohr)....Pages 113-129
The European Union and the Arctic: A Decade into Finding Its Arcticness (Andreas Raspotnik, Adam Stępień)....Pages 131-146
Seeking a Seat at the Table: India Turns to the Arctic (Aditya Ramanathan)....Pages 147-158
Singapore: A Tangential but Constructive Player in the Arctic (Richard A. Bitzinger)....Pages 159-167
Front Matter ....Pages 169-169
A Divided Arctic: Maritime Boundary Agreements and Disputes in the Arctic Ocean (Clive Schofield, Andreas Østhagen)....Pages 171-191
The Potential of Polar Routes: The Opening of a New Ocean (Rachael Gosnell)....Pages 193-205
Arctic Economies Between Geopolitical Tensions and Provision of Livelihoods: Insights from the ECONOR Approach (Solveig Glomsrød, Birger Poppel, Lars Lindholt, Gérard Duhaime, Sébastien Lévesque, Davin Holen et al.)....Pages 207-229
Connectivity and Infrastructure—The Arctic Digital Divide (Michael Delaunay, Mathieu Landriault)....Pages 231-248
Front Matter ....Pages 249-249
Arctic Narratives and Geopolitical Competition (David P. Auerswald)....Pages 251-271
Cooperation in the Cold—The Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement (Daniel Lambach)....Pages 273-289
Arctic Geopolitics of Fishing (Rebecca Pincus)....Pages 291-301
The Svalbard “Channel”, 1920–2020—A Geopolitical Sketch (Roald Berg)....Pages 303-321
The Non-Arctic Dimension of Military Security—Russia and the West Between Regional Cooperation and Geopolitical Confrontation (Benjamin Schaller)....Pages 323-342
Front Matter ....Pages 343-343
Limited Cooperation or Upcoming Alliance? Russia, China and the Arctic (Joachim Weber)....Pages 345-361
High North and the Antarctic (Doaa Abdel-Motaal)....Pages 363-378

Citation preview

Frontiers in International Relations

Joachim Weber Editor

Handbook on Geopolitics and Security in the Arctic The High North Between Cooperation and Confrontation

Frontiers in International Relations

This book series offers an outlet for cutting-edge research on all areas of international relations. Frontiers in International Relations (FIR) welcomes theoretically sound and empirically robust monographs, edited volumes and handbooks from various disciplines and approaches on topics such as IR-theory, international security studies, foreign policy, peace and conflict studies, international organization, global governance, international political economy, the history of international relations and related fields. All books published in this series are peer-reviewed.

More information about this series at http://www.springer.com/series/16555

Joachim Weber Editor

Handbook on Geopolitics and Security in the Arctic The High North Between Cooperation and Confrontation


Editor Joachim Weber Institute for Security Policy Kiel University Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany

ISSN 2662-9429 ISSN 2662-9437 (electronic) Frontiers in International Relations ISBN 978-3-030-45004-5 ISBN 978-3-030-45005-2 (eBook) https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-45005-2 © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are reserved by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. This Springer imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Switzerland AG The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland


This book is not about the past, but let us start with some lessons from history and climatology: Since the beginning of the history of mankind, the Arctic has been one of the most remote areas of this planet. Century after century since the Middle Ages, the High North has spurred imaginations of an undiscovered world, and if not full of riches, then at least full of promises like a northern seaway to India, a gateway to wealth and fame alike. Generations of seafarers, from Cabot and Hudson to Franklin and Amundsen tried to conquer this kingdom of ice and snow and often paid with their lives for venturing in this harsh environment. What they basically found was an ice-covered ocean with two possible, but very inaccessible crossings from Atlantic waters into the Pacific: One via the Northwest Passage through the Canadian archipelago and the other taking the Northeast Passage roughly along the Russian and Siberian coastline, to be known later as the Northern Sea Route. Yet for a long time, this was not good for much in practical terms, but just improved our geographical knowledge of the planet. Natural riches were unaccessible if not unknown. A chance for regular shipping was not provided with the exception of extremely costly and rather rare expeditions by (mainly) European researchers and some minimal traffic from local populations like Inuit and others with their kayaks or similar boats. Until 1969 and the voyage of the “Manhattan,” an ice breaking oil tanker and the first commercial ship to sail the Northwest Passage, no more was to be seen (the submarine USS Nautilus had crossed the Arctic dived in 1958), but this explorative mission reconfirmed the status of the Arctic as an unaccessible and quite unusable ocean for mankind, leaving only vague hopes for technical progress to change this in some Jules Verne age of shipping and exploitation of natural riches. Now, in 2020 and half a century later, we have to admit that times have changed, and they continue to change rapidly. Climate change and global warming are altering the face of the Arctic at an unprecedented pace and quality. Sea ice is receding, perm frost soils are thawing, and shipping along the Northern Sea Route has become a reality, although still far from enjoying the same conditions as sea routes in the warmer areas of the planet. The warming in the Arctic is occurring at roughly two and a half times the speed found in other areas of the earth, due to v



changes in albedo of formerly ice-covered areas of the ocean alongside other factors, and this is clearly the driving force behind the changing perception of the Arctic as well as the reason for a growing human footprint on the ground of the High North. There are thousands of scientific publications on the topic of climate change, hundreds related to the consequences for the Arctic, and many more to be expected thanks to research such as that being carried out by the current international MOSAIC expedition, which is repeating the idea of Fridtjof Nansen’s drift experiment from almost 130 years ago, this time using the much bigger German research vessel “Polarstern” (Polar Star). No doubt, global warming and climate change and its consequences for the natural environment, is the main narration of our days, and in terms of the High North, it is the almost exclusive focus for the wider public at least in Europe. There is almost no radio or TV station, no newspaper or journal, which does not periodically report on the effects of climate change on polar bears, melting glaciers, and on perm frost soils becoming slippery and releasing methane gas into the atmosphere. There are significant political consequences to climate change. The realization of old Arctic dreams is becoming a reality of our days. Instead of being frozen and uninviting, the Arctic is becoming worth looking and traditional style rivalries of great powers are being revived—like in many other regions of the world. But this time, the Arctic is turning fundamentally to become a region where those could be carried out much more easily and more likely. Russia is turning many of its parts of the High North into a bonanza for the exploitation of oil and gas. New actors are arriving. China is not only articulating Arctic interests but taking many steps to make these come true, and many other nations are hoping for some share of the Arctic promises of our times. These are new shipping lines of communication as well as access to living and non-living resources, formerly locked down into “eternal ice,” or in the words of a participant at one of the many Arctic workshops and conferences in recent years: “Folks, it is not happening all days that a new ocean is granted to humanity.” For the Arctic, this ends the longtime previous pattern of almost exclusive man–nature interaction, turning the region gradually into a possible sphere of all year round man–man interaction with quite some potential for political conflict; the anthropocene has reached the High North eventually. This book is about exploring what security-relevant changes in the High North are taking place, what actors are involved, which geopolitical concepts are developed and implemented by powers participating on shaping the face of the Arctic of the future. The Handbook of Geopolitics and Security in the Arctic (HGSA) is, as the title says, a publication which aims at delivering a broad overview on security and geopolitics related topics in the High North and covering if not all, at least the most relevant issues in a handbook format. It aims not only to be the first stop for anybody seeking insight into those issues, but also the to be a constant reference source for anyone wanting to increase their knowledge on the topics it deals with. Knowledge, which will provide orientation for a number of years to come. The Arctic beginner will find basic information within HGSA in the fields of law,



economics, and shipping. The researcher will find a compilation of state of the art, equally carefully elaborated, and peer-reviewed chapters on traditional and non-traditional elements of security, ranging from the build up of naval forces to the geopolitics of fisheries. The Arctic practitioners will use this book as a one stop, valuable source of information, whenever they need a wider and deeper understanding of the overall political or the geostrategic concepts of other actors and how these relate to realities in the High North. And by dipping into it casually, it is also suitable for graduates and hopefully the interested and educated public audience to broaden their understanding of what security and geopolitics in today’s Arctic means and what upcoming discussions are about. When looking at security aspects, a book on current change in the Arctic is about the most relevant actors involved. Therefore, the first part starts with the Arctic 5, who presently have the greatest potential to influence Arctic policies and are doing so (Ilulissat declaration 2008). They are called shareholders in this volume, because they share the undisputed sovereignty over their respective littoral areas of the Arctic ocean according to UNCLOS. And they are interested in gaining more to control and have—with the exception of the USA—turned in claims at the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) in New York in order to get their (competing) exclusive economic zones (EEZ) expanded. In the first chapter, Jørgen Staun focuses on Russia and explains why the concurrent Russian revival of its military capacities in the High North alongside the build up of huge hydrocarbon extracting facilities is not in contradiction but goes hand in hand, and what part of this could really be dangerous to the West. Victoria Hermann and Lillian Hussong take on the perspective from the other side of the Atlantic: What does (apart from buying Greenland) the USA want to do in the Arctic? By concentrating on the policies of and in Congress, they describe an Arctic country moving from almost total neglect of its “arcticness” to some sort of renewed focus on the northernmost parts of the northern hemisphere. Adam Lajeunesse deals with a country which never had any doubt about its arcticness and brings us insight into Canada’s perspective on Arctic challenges, the most eminent probably being the undefined status of the Northwest Passage as either being internal waters of Canada or an international sea passage open to anybody who wants to use it. In his precise analysis, Christoph Humrich describes how the arcticness of Norway has been transformed over the past few decades and how that is reflected in shifts in perception and changes in the way the country is dealing with emerging challenges. Jon Rahbek-Clemmensen and Line Jedig Nielsen explain the case of Denmark, being an Arctic power thanks to its possession of Greenland. Making the autonomous region the cornerstone of their analysis, they explain a very interesting triangle in existence for decades, comprising Greenland’s interest in self-determination, the omnipresent geopolitical interests of the USA, and the role played by Copenhagen.



The second part of the book deals with countries which do not have any territorial share in the Arctic, but can be labeled stakeholders for two reasons: There is much at stake in the Arctic, and the (global) interests of these countries are touched or implicated in some way. It will be no surprise that China, which recently declared itself a “near Arctic state,” comes first and occupies two chapters. The sheer size of the country in terms of population, economic, and recently increased military strength, including naval power, makes it a great, if not the a superpower of our time. What does China want in the High North? And how are Arctic interests represented in a country that is a vibrant market economy run by a communist party? While this overall framework is explained by Sybille Reinke de Buitrago, Johannes Mohr adds (more than) a case study: The growing Chinese interest in the Arctic is perceived as a threat in parts of the strategic communities of the West, namely Iceland and Greenland are usually labeled as examples for this. He checks realities here for the latter case of those two. The European Union wants to be seen as a global player in many policy fields, following a soft power approach with sometimes very limited impact on world politics. But how about its influence on the Arctic agenda? Andreas Raspotnik and Adam Stępień analyze the Arctic dimension and the intentions of a continent in search of its arcticness. The subcontinent of India, with less visible economic and military power than China so far, is catching up faster than many people know. How about a near Arctic India? Aditya Ramanathan explains to us the extent to which Arctic interests are rooted in Indian policies and what the emerging country is aiming for. And finally, there is Singapore: Whereas most people would agree that it could make some sense to include the Arctic policies of France, the UK, or Germany in a part like this, and it might come as a surprise to many to have the small, but not unimportant island republic at the Strait of Malacca to conclude this part; Richard A. Bitzinger tells us why. And thus, this part makes clear how relevant Arctic issues can be, even for regions that are long way away. Part three, at the very center of the volume, tries to shed light on what has already been established in the Arctic, not in the sense of policy, but in terms of (materialized) facts and structures, which have been around a while but are also undergoing significant changes and which will have long lasting effects on the Arctic of tomorrow. Wherever actors act, they do it within the framework of a certain legal regime, whether they like it and respect it or not. For the Arctic, this is not found in a single treaty, as it is for Antarctica, but in many treaties and provisions of law, with the modern law of the sea (UNCLOS) as its general baseline. Clive Schofield and Andreas Osthagen take us to a “divided Arctic,” which is in terms of law a region comprised settled agreements and unresolved legal disputes concerning territorial waters, EEZs, and others issues, all bearing some potential for conflict. Rachael Gosnell deals with the polar routes of the past, the present, and the future. These sea lines of communication will gain importance in some respects, she argues, describing the changes taking place including the obstacles and the



challenges for their future use. She sees a bigger militarization re-emerging, correcting the dominant narrative which perceives the Arctic as an unusually peaceful region. In a geopolitical sense, the economy and economic interests are the basic foundation of political ambitions. So what is the situation in the various regions of this huge area named “the Arctic”? Iulie Aslaksen and Solveig Glomsrød and their team from ECONOR are the unique experts on this, and they provide us with an abundance of facts about what people in the Arctic base their lives on and what structures all this is rooted in. When dealing with structures and the economy in nowadays, this inevitably includes talking about the state of digitalization. Matthieu Landriault and Michael Delauney use their innovative approach to explore the state of connectivity and IT infrastructures in the Arctic, and they describe an “Arctic Digital Divide,” which concludes this part. Part four is about various issues concerning the security dimension within the Arctic dichotomy between the traditionally stabile pattern of cooperation and the newly arriving one of confrontation. David Auerswald focuses on the last 30 years of Arctic governance and the change in narratives and strategies being used in this period. Using today’s uncertainties as a starting point, he evaluates narratives from the Arctic Council and initiatives originating there, to then conclude with a closer look at the recent competition between the great powers. Daniel Lambach’s perspective on patterns of cooperation in the High North is based on a theoretical approach, showing how theories based on rationalist approaches should be amended to take the material properties of Arctic space into consideration. He illustrates and tests his approach mainly by using the example of the Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement (2009–2011). Rebecca Pincus explores an underrated security topic, which many people would place somewhere between safety, shipping, and economics. By drawing lessons from the cod war’s and other incidents, she reveals what degree of potential for conflict is rooted in fisheries and the exploitation of the Arctic ocean’s living resources. A highly sensitive case in terms of potential for conflict is the situation at Spitsbergen/Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago subject to a unique treaty from 1920, which grants rights to all signatory states, who unfortunately disagree about the treaty’s interpretation concerning some relevant points. How this difficult situation has been managed in the past, and how Norway continues to govern Svalbard, is the subject of this chapter by Roald Berg. Benjamin Schaller raises the question, if the growing confrontation between Russia and the West in the High North is rather expressing a regional security dilemma, or if it is a spillover of conflict derived from other international situations in an otherwise cooperative environment. In order to find out, he compares NATO-Russian relations in the Arctic, Baltic, and Black Seas. His findings conclude this part, which could easily have included many more “dimensions” of



potential conflict in the Arctic, but we do need to leave room for future editions of this handbook. This volume ends with part five, in which Joachim Weber raises the currently quite intensively discussed question as to whether an alliance is forming between China and Russia in the Arctic. Looking for an answer, he evaluates the overall state of Sino-Russian collaboration in economic and military terms, before he moves on to analyze how that is reflected in the Arctic so far and what conclusions could be drawn from the findings. The last, as well as the first word prelude, is with Doaa Abdel-Motaal, renowned expert for the “Seventh Continent,” who has recently started to shift part of her focus from the South Pole to the High North, giving her the status of a real and full polar expert. In her comparison of the situation in Antarctica with the Arctic, she opens our eyes to a much more global perspective on what we are dealing with in both polar regions and what is at stake. A few more words to conclude this introduction: A holistic approach for a volume covering a broad range of topics in the humanities is a sort of a contradictio in adiecto. There are many more chapters to be written to give a whole and true picture of what is presently taking place in the Arctic in terms of geopolitics and security. Not “everything” could be covered, the region is too huge and the challenges are too great to fit between the covers of a single book. But many people from the global Arctic scientific community are willing to share their knowledge of this eminently important world region. The authors range from old hands in traditional departments through associates of dedicated research institutions to talented Ph.D. students, giving them a chance to deliver the latest insights from years of research into highly specialized topics. All of them were treated in the same way and were subject to a critical evaluation of their presentations and findings. This volume represents what they have worked for ambitiously to share with the readers, and they deserve our respect for their efforts. One last point that I would like to mention is my personal dissatisfaction about the fact that no Russian author was willing or able to eventually deliver a Russian perspective on security issues in the High North, which seems symptomatic of the roll back into traditional paradigms of confrontation between Russia and the West. Is the non-participation of any Russian author, despite numerous enquiries, already a sign of our inability to keep talking and exchanging views and concerns about security related issues? Hopefully not. As the editor of this publication, I am grateful to all of those who have participated in this common endeavor named HGSA. It is, first of all, my authors to whom I owe much more than a good bottle of beer once we meet first or next time in person. I would also like to say thanks to the many other people who have supported this project in many ways and have been there for me when I have needed “reflection” from time to time on what and how we were doing. Jan Asmussen, in particular, was a very valuable contributor for all sorts of advice. Thanks also to anonymous peer reviewers and to the ISPK team, represented by Stefan Hansen, from where I got a lot of support making this project possible. In my gratitude, I include many unnamed people from all over the Arctic community, who



did not end up delivering chapters for this handbook, but took their time and shared their knowledge on various occasions, deepening my understanding of the region and helping me to finally complete this volume. Of course, I would like to include everybody involved at Springer’s publishing group who do all the professional and indispensable work to make a publication like this a product, ready to be rolled out to the public. It goes without saying that all shortcomings and mistakes in conceptualization and realization of this volume are mine exclusively. But as we all know, at the end there is always hope. Hope that HGSA might come back in a few years, grown up, and including even more distinguished authors and perspectives to help us understand even better what makes the world go round at least its Arctic parts. Kiel/Bonn, Germany January 2020

Joachim Weber

Prelude—Introductory words

The Arctic and the Antarctic are among the fastest warming parts of our planet and have become the object of complex geopolitical calculations by countries angling to become prominent, or even dominant, polar powers. They share a fragile environment and act as the climate barometers of our planet. With the melting of their ice sheets and the resultant rise in sea level, they threaten to redefine the map of the world as we know it. The Arctic is a rapidly melting ocean, with competition raging over its fish, mineral resources, extended continental shelves, and new and fast-opening waterways. The new sea routes of the Arctic hold the promise of a dramatic reduction in travel time between continents, potentially ushering in a new era in world merchandise trade. The Antarctic is a contested continent, twice the size of Australia, with the Antarctic Peninsula being one of its fastest warming portions. The continent has been the object of competing, and even overlapping, territorial claims. From these claims, multiple other claims in the Southern Ocean have followed. Whereas in the Arctic countries are competing over water, in the Antarctic competition is fiercest at the moment over land. The Handbook on Geopolitics and Security in the Arctic seeks to address the many different facets of Arctic security through the lens of its shareholders, stakeholders, economy, infrastructure, geopolitical designs, and security alliances. Shareholders are considered to be the most powerful players within existing governance structures, such as the members of the Arctic Council, while the stakeholders are the players that are slightly more removed. A question that springs to mind immediately as we scroll through its various chapters is how the Arctic compares to the Antarctic, and whether one pole can inform the other. It is fascinating to see how policy-makers in the Arctic sometimes look at the Antarctic with envy. After all, the Antarctic is governed by a treaty specific to that pole. The 1959 Antarctic Treaty demilitarized the continent, dedicating it to peace and scientific research, and has no parallel up in the Arctic. Furthermore, in 1991 the treaty was expanded to include an Environmental Protocol to protect Antarctica’s wilderness and ban all mining activities on the continent. The Antarctic Treaty is therefore often touted as superior to the existing governance arrangements xiii


Prelude—Introductory words

in the Arctic, where the main applicable legal instrument is the United Nations Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and where the Arctic Council only acts as a loose forum for consultations among the Arctic states. Unlike the Antarctic Treaty, UNCLOS was not specifically designed for the Arctic Ocean. In my chapter, the High North and the Antarctic In a Globalized World, I demystify the Antarctic Treaty to show that the geopolitical and security situation in the Antarctic is just as, if not more, fragile than the Arctic. In so far as we consider the Antarctic continent to be protected from an environmental or a security point of view, I argue that it would be Antarctica’s ice cover, and not just the treaty, that has delivered that outcome. In fact, the massive investments pouring into the Arctic and the pattern and scale of the economic activity taking place up north could very well act as a precursor to what we may soon see in Antarctica. In the end, the Arctic may have more to tell us about the Antarctic than the other way around. A key determinant of the future of the poles will be the boundary established between the various shareholders or principal actors in each region, and between these shareholders and all other stakeholders. In the Arctic, tension is palpable between the five Arctic littoral or coastal states and the remaining members of the Arctic Council, eight in total. But tension also runs high between these traditional Arctic states, on the one hand, and countries that define themselves as “Near Arctic” states, such as China, as well as all other interested parties. They too have political and economic designs on the Arctic. But could China or other observer states in the Arctic Council be characterized as shareholders in their own right, with the Arctic considered global common? Or are they mere stakeholders? In the Antarctic, while the steadily growing membership of the Antarctic Treaty has served to reduce tensions between competing powers, the fault lines between the original territorial claimants and the subsequent entrants to the treaty remain entrenched. In other words, relations between the various shareholders continue to be highly problematic. Furthermore, the United Nations has long objected to the perceived monopolization of the continent by a handful of powers, placing the “Question of Antarctica” on its agenda for decades. A move designed to signal that Antarctica’s stakeholders, if not outright shareholders, extend much beyond the original founders and current members of the Antarctic Treaty, and that the world’s last remaining continent must be considered a global common. In both poles, the power balance between the main players (shareholders) and all other players (stakeholders) will need to be mediated and will determine future political, economic, and environmental outcomes. Today, tensions are mounting in the polar regions, with the most powerful players no longer disguising their political and economic ambitions. They are gradually beginning to write a new political narrative for both poles. In May 2019, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared a “new era of strategic engagement in the Arctic,” relegating scientific collaboration on cultural and environmental matters to a “luxury” of the past. He also declared the death of the concept as the Near Arctic state.1 On the other side of the globe, two years earlier, Chinese Vice Premier 1

See US Department of State (2019).

Prelude—Introductory words


Zhang Gaoli had spoken of the need to strike the right balance in Antarctica between environmental protection and exploitation, using the word “utilization.”2A word seldom employed in relation to the last remaining continent, in which mining has been banned. These statements represent dramatic departures from the previous narratives expounded in the poles, where diplomacy, scientific collaboration, and environmental protection had been established as the main goals. Such explicit calls for changing rules of the game in the polar regions are taking place against the backdrop of a changing world order. A world in which old alliances are fraying and multilateralism is challenged. Since the rise to power of various populist movements across the globe in 2016, many politicians have begun to experiment with what I call a “go-it-alone” approach. One in which national interests are prioritized and consultation with allies and other partners reduced. The lack of predictability that has come to symbolize the world since 2016 is likely to spill into the polar regions and render their future more unpredictable than before. In my view, political dialogue on the future of the poles needs to be stepped up and multilateral approaches reinforced. The Handbook on Geopolitics and Security in the Arctic alerts us to the many pressing issues that must be addressed up north. We must indeed turn to these issues, in particular since what happens in the Arctic will likely be echoed in the Antarctic. Geneva, Switzerland

Doaa Abdel-Motaal Author, Antarctica The Battle for the Seventh Continent

References United States Department of State. (2019). Looking North: Sharpening America’s arctic focus. Remarks of Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State. Rovaniemi, Finland, May 6, 2019. China to Host Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting For the First Time. GB Times Beijing, May 19, 2017. Last accessed 28 June 2019. https://news.cgtn.com/news/3d3d774e324 5444e79457a6333566d54/share_p.html.


See China to Host Antarctic Treaty (2017).


Shareholders. The Arctic Five A Two-Faced Russia? Civilian Interests and Great Power Politics in the High North . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jørgen Staun


No UNCLOS, No Icebreakers, No Clue? U.S. Arctic Policy Through the Eyes of Congress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Victoria Herrmann and Lillian Hussong


Arctic Geopolitics and Security from the Canadian Perspective . . . . . . . Adam Lajeunesse


Norway’s High North Geopolitics: Continuities and Changes Through Three Decades . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Christoph Humrich


The Middleman—The Driving Forces Behind Denmark’s Arctic Policy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jon Rahbek-Clemmensen and Line Jedig Nielsen


Arctic Stakeholders China’s Aspirations as a “Near Arctic State”: Growing Stakeholder or Growing Risk? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sybille Reinke de Buitrago


China in the Arctic and the Case of Greenland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113 Johannes Mohr




The European Union and the Arctic: A Decade into Finding Its Arcticness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131 Andreas Raspotnik and Adam Stępień Seeking a Seat at the Table: India Turns to the Arctic . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147 Aditya Ramanathan Singapore: A Tangential but Constructive Player in the Arctic . . . . . . . 159 Richard A. Bitzinger Basics: Economies, Infrastructures and Law in the Arctic A Divided Arctic: Maritime Boundary Agreements and Disputes in the Arctic Ocean . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171 Clive Schofield and Andreas Østhagen The Potential of Polar Routes: The Opening of a New Ocean . . . . . . . . 193 Rachael Gosnell Arctic Economies Between Geopolitical Tensions and Provision of Livelihoods: Insights from the ECONOR Approach . . . . . . . . . . . . . 207 Solveig Glomsrød, Birger Poppel, Lars Lindholt, Gérard Duhaime, Sébastien Lévesque, Davin Holen, and Iulie Aslaksen Connectivity and Infrastructure—The Arctic Digital Divide . . . . . . . . . 231 Michael Delaunay and Mathieu Landriault Between Cooperation and Confrontation: Dimensions of Arctic Geopolitics and Security Arctic Narratives and Geopolitical Competition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 251 David P. Auerswald Cooperation in the Cold—The Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 273 Daniel Lambach Arctic Geopolitics of Fishing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 291 Rebecca Pincus The Svalbard “Channel”, 1920–2020—A Geopolitical Sketch . . . . . . . . 303 Roald Berg The Non-Arctic Dimension of Military Security—Russia and the West Between Regional Cooperation and Geopolitical Confrontation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 323 Benjamin Schaller



Arctic Security and Beyond Limited Cooperation or Upcoming Alliance? Russia, China and the Arctic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 345 Joachim Weber High North and the Antarctic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 363 Doaa Abdel-Motaal

Editor and Contributors

About the Editor Joachim Weber grew up in Hamburg and studied History, Geography, Public Law, and Journalism at the Universities of Hamburg and Marburg in Germany and at Baylor-University/TX, USA. He earned his M.A. with a study on German geopolitics in the world war period in Hamburg 1996. As officer or reserves, he took part in IFOR and SFOR missions in Croatia and Bosnia in 1996/97. He earned his Ph.D. in 2000 in the field of political and economic geography at the University of Hamburg with a dissertation on the Croatian transformation toward an independent state. He later taught political geography at several universities, among them Zagreb/HR, Bonn/GE, and Akron/OH, USA. In 2002, he joined the German federal service and held positions at Federal Office for disaster protection (BBK), being co-founder of a M.Sc.program on disaster governance at the University of Bonn (KaVoMa). He has worked also for the Ministry of Economic Development (BMZ) and for the Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) with responsibility for the German maritime defense industries. In 2017, he joined the Institute for Security Policy Kiel University (ISPK) as Senior Fellow. His ongoing research is on geopolitics in the Arctic, maritime strategy and strategic foresight.

Contributors Doaa Abdel-Motaal Geneva, Switzerland Iulie Aslaksen Statistics Norway, Oslo, Norway David P. Auerswald National War College, Washington, D.C., USA Roald Berg University of Stavanger, Stavanger, Norway Richard A. Bitzinger Marysville, MI, USA



Editor and Contributors

Michael Delaunay Ottawa, ON, Canada Gérard Duhaime Université Laval, Quebec, Canada Solveig Glomsrød CICERO Center for International Climate Research, Oslo, Norway Rachael Gosnell University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA Victoria Herrmann The Arctic Institute Center for Crcumpolar Security Studies, Washington, DC, USA Davin Holen College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, USA Christoph Humrich University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands Lillian Hussong The Arctic Institute Center for Crcumpolar Security Studies, Washington, DC, USA Adam Lajeunesse St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, NS, Canada Daniel Lambach Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, Frankfurt, Germany Mathieu Landriault Ottawa, ON, Canada Sébastien Lévesque Université Laval, Quebec, Canada Lars Lindholt Statistics Norway, Oslo, Norway Johannes Mohr Institute for Security Studies, Kiel University, Kiel, Germany Line Jedig Nielsen Royal Danish Military Academy, Copenhagen, Denmark Andreas Østhagen Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Oslo, Norway Rebecca Pincus US Naval War College, Newport, RI, USA Birger Poppel Institute of Learning, Ilisimatusarfik, University of Greenland, Nuuk, Greenland Jon Rahbek-Clemmensen Royal Danish Military Academy, Copenhagen, Denmark Aditya Ramanathan The Takshashila Institution, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India Andreas Raspotnik High North Center for Business and Governance, Nord University, Bodø, Norway Sybille Reinke de Buitrago IFSH, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany Benjamin Schaller Centre for Peace Studies, UiT—The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway

Editor and Contributors


Clive Schofield WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute, World Maritime University (WMU), Malmö, Sweden Jørgen Staun Royal Danish Defence College, Copenhagen, Denmark Adam Stępień Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland Joachim Weber Institute for Schleswig-Holstein, Germany






Shareholders. The Arctic Five

A Two-Faced Russia? Civilian Interests and Great Power Politics in the High North Jørgen Staun

Introduction Russia’s overall national interest is to reclaim and secure its status as an internationally recognised great power. In the Arctic, this translates into two overall policy lines, which at first glance seem contradictory, but may be able to coexist. First a civilian, material interest in ensuring that the Russian Arctic transforms into a resource base for the Russian state. Russia also wants the Northern Sea Route (NSR) recognised as national waters and hopes to increase traffic tenfold before 2025. Furthermore, Russia wants its demands on the undersea territory outside the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) limit recognised in order, in due time, to exploit the area’s projected resources. The driving logic here is a conviction that all three interests are best pursued by following a cooperative foreign policy line and securing peace and prosperity in the area: essentially a status quo policy. On the other hand, Russia’s great power ambition has translated into a general military reform and a substantial build-up of Russia’s conventional and strategic (nuclear) forces, which also affects the Arctic. First of all, around 60% of Russia’s seaborne nuclear weapons are under the command of the Northern Fleet, based around the Kola Peninsula and adjacent waters (Åtland 2014: 153, 2018). As the ice melts, the protective cover for the submarine fleet diminishes, which will put pressure on Russia’s navy and air force to establish some sort of anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) ability in the area to keep the US/NATO navies and air forces at a distance. This is done by introducing long-range missiles on the various classes of the Northern Fleet’s vessels and by establishing radar stations, air defence bases and runways on selected parts of the northern shore, which also happen to be able to cover central parts of the NSR. The general policy line here is competitive/confrontational, and the idea is to keep US and NATO vessels and airplanes out of the area in a crisis situation in order to protect J. Staun (B) Royal Danish Defence College, Copenhagen, Denmark e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 J. Weber (ed.), Handbook on Geopolitics and Security in the Arctic, Frontiers in International Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-45005-2_1



J. Staun

Russia’s nuclear forces. The question is whether the military build-up will push the status quo line aside and establish Russia as a revisionist power in the Arctic, or whether these two policy lines can coexist. And, if they can, how? There has been much debate on the issue, since the Arctic for a long period seemed to be exempt from the increased competitive relationship between Russia and NATO after the Ukraine crisis. All Arctic states, including Russia, did—apart from a few skirmishes—their outmost to keep negotiations in Arctic fora free of the disagreements over the crisis in Ukraine. The scholarly debate seems divided on the question of whether or not the cooperative climate in the Arctic can continue. On the one hand, researchers such as Byers (2013, 2017, 2019) place great emphasis on the international institutions and regimes in the Arctic, which, at least until now, seem to have had a moderating effect on possible spillovers from the conflict in Ukraine. Some, like Heather Conley and Peter Viggo Jakobsen (Conley and Rohloff 2015; Jakobsen 2019), argue that we also need Arctic institutions dealing with security matters, which so far have been exempt from the debates in the main institution, the Arctic Council. Other researchers emphasise structural factors and point out the existence of mutual national interests among the littoral states in the Arctic (Kristensen and Sakstrup 2016; Pezard et al. 2017; Staun 2017). Some scholars are sceptical of the alleged acceleration of Russia’s military and security posture in the Arctic (Zysk 2015), others downplay its importance (Flake 2017; Konyshev et al. 2017; Konyshev and Sergunin 2014). This article tries to analyse Russia’s behaviour in the Arctic in light of its great power ambition. After the introduction, the first section discusses how Russia’s overall foreign and security policy ambition of becoming a recognised international great power affects its interests in the Arctic. The second section focusses on civilian interests in the Arctic, which can be divided into three: to secure the Russian Arctic as a resource base for the Russian state; to have the NSR recognised as national waters; and to have Russia’s demands on the undersea territory beyond the 200-nautical mile limit recognised internationally. The third section addresses how the great power ambition affects Russia’s security interests in the Arctic and leads to a military build-up, as seen in the rest of the country. The last section concludes by discussing whether the main logics of Russia’s military interests in the Arctic will drive its civilian interests out and lead to a policy change, or whether the civilian and military interests can coexist and under what circumstances.

Russia’s Great Power Role The single most important foreign policy interest of Putin’s Russia is to be internationally recognised as a great power (Neumann 2008; Poulsen and Staun 2018; Tsygankov 2008). It is a foreign policy ambition, which is overwhelmingly supported by the Russian elite as well as by large parts of the public (Levada Centre 2019). The ambition to be a great power is and has been evident in many of Vladimir Putin’s speeches over the years and in speeches by many of Russia’s other central political

A Two-Faced Russia? Civilian Interests and Great Power Politics …


actors—Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Secretary General of the National Security Council Nikolai Patrushev and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, to name a few.1 It is furthermore anchored in numerous foreign and security policy documents. Also, the ambition has expanded over time from merely getting Russia recognised as a regional great power to getting it recognised as a leading world power2 (Poulsen and Staun 2018: 75–78). One important result of this great power ambition has been a deliberate and persistent attempt to build up Russia’s military power. After the short five-day war in Georgia in 2008—which basically was a humiliation of Georgia’s military forces, but which also showcased a long list of deficiencies of Russia’s military forces (BryceRogers 2013; Bukkvoll 2009; McDermott 2009)—Russia embarked on a comprehensive military reform and subsequent military modernisation program under the leadership of Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov.3 The military reforms have been an overall success, and Russia has regained its military prowess, showcased by its intervention in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine as well as its resolute and efficient air war in Syria. In terms of Russia’s strategic military capabilities, Hans M. Kristensen and Matt Korda assess Russia’s total nuclear arsenal as 4.490 warheads assigned to either long-range strategic launchers or shorter-range tactical nuclear forces. Of these, roughly 1.600 strategic warheads are deployed on ballistic missiles and at heavy bomber bases, while 1.070 are in storage, along with around 1.820 non-strategic warheads4 (Kristensen and Korda 2019; Kristensen and Norris 2018). Not only its strategic deterrent, which over the years has had top priority and was the first to receive adequate funding. Also within the conventional domain, Russia is now again a military power to be reckoned with. In 2016 the Swedish FOI stated that Russia’s armed forces, in their view, ‘will most likely continue to be able to launch at 1 See

for example: Lavrov (2016), Patrushev (2015), Patrusjev (2014), Putin (1999, 2007, 2014), Shoigu (2018a). 2 In the Russian foreign policy concept of 2000 Russia is described as a ‘great power, one of the most influential centers in the modern world’ (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation 2000). In Russia’s 2009 National Security Strategy towards 2020 Russia is described as a ‘world power’ (mirovaya derzhava) (President of the Russian Federation 2009). Russia’s National Security Strategy from 2015 states that Russia’s long-term strategic national interests are to consolidate the Russian Federation’s ‘status as a leading world power’ in a ‘poly-centric world’ (Rossiskaya Gazeta 2015: § 30). 3 A detailed list of the influx of resources to modernise equipment can be found in Cooper (2016). Also see: Defense Intelligence Agency (2017). 4 Thus, they argue that Russia’s nuclear forces consists of roughly 318 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), with approximately 1138 warheads. Submarines: 10 operational nuclear ballistic submarines (SSBN) (6 Delta IV, 1 Delta III, 3 Borei class), each with 16 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) with a maximum loading of more than 700 warheads. This amount may have been reduced to 600 warheads due to New START implementation. Strategic bombers (Tu-160 (Blackjack), Tu-95MS (Bear)): 60–70 (50 deployed under New START) with a maximum loading of 786 warheads [on air-launched cruise missiles (ALCM)]. The number may be lower due to New START. On top of this, Russia has a number of non-strategic nuclear weapons, approximately 1.830 warheads. In 2018 Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris assessed that the air force controlled some 500 warheads, the air defence had some 300 warheads in its inventory, the army had some 140 warheads and the navy up to around 810 warheads (Kristensen and Norris 2018).


J. Staun

least one—possibly two—large-scale JISCOs, joint inter-service combat operations, with thousands of vehicles and aircraft and around 150,000 servicemen in each’ for operations at home and in Russia’s near abroad, while at the same time upholding territorial defence, including strategic deterrence (Persson 2016). This assessment is, with some variations, shared by several other think tanks and independent analysts5 (Connolly and Sendstad 2018; Dalsjö et al. 2019; Defense Intelligence Agency 2017; IISS 2019). Building up military forces in order to secure a position as a leading world power is no inexpensive task. Russia’s defence budget was 61.4 billion dollars (nominal) (RUB: 3,849,569,000,000) in 2018 and 66.5 billion dollars (nominal) in 2017, equalling 3.9% of the GDP or 11.4% of government spending (SIPRI 2017, 2018). And since the sources of Russia’s main income, the until now plentiful oil and gas fields in Siberia, according to the Ministry of Energy, are slowly, but surely dwindling, the Russian government has looked to the north for a replacement to continue to be able to finance its public spending, including the military build-up. Because in the Arctic resources are abundant: In 2008 the US Geological Survey (USGS) estimated that the Arctic holds more than 30% of the world’s remaining underground natural gas resources: 1.7 trillion m3 of natural gas and 44 billion barrels of liquid natural gas. In addition, the Arctic holds 13% of the known remaining oil resources, upwards of 90 billion barrels of oil. Nearly all of that (84%) is estimated to be offshore (USGS 2008). According to the USGS, 60% of the undiscovered oil in the Arctic is in territory under Russian jurisdiction, which corresponds to 412 billion barrels of oil. According to Russian sources, up to 90% of these hydrocarbon reserves are located on the Siberian continental shelf in the Arctic zone with 67% in the western part of the Arctic, the Barents Sea and the Kara Sea. The bulk of the known reserves are estimated, by the Russian government, to be within the Russian 200-nautical mile territorial sea boundary (Flake 2017: 18; Vasiliev 2013). However, it is also estimated that there are substantial deposits inside the expanded 350-nautical mile sea boundary, which Russia can claim if it can convince the UN Committee on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS)—based on provisions in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)—that the Lomonosov and Mendeleev Ridges are an extension of the Siberian continental shelf and, subsequently, agree with the other littoral states on how to divide the underwater territory.

Russia’s Civilian Interests in the Arctic The combination of great power aspirations, resource-based finances and an overwhelming amount of untapped resources in the Russian Arctic gives Russia a distinct set of interests in the High North. Thus, in Russia’s Arctic strategies from 2008 (The President of the Russian Federation 2009) and 2013 (The President of the Russian Federation 2013). Russia’s interests in the Arctic are boiled down to using ‘the Arctic 5 Among

the more critical voices on Russia’s presumed enhanced capabilities is (Renz 2014).

A Two-Faced Russia? Civilian Interests and Great Power Politics …


zone of the Russian Federation as a strategic resource base’. First of all, this concerns oil and gas exploration, which is well under way in selected parts of the more accessible (and onshore) areas, such as Novatek’s Yamal liquified natural gas (LNG) project and Gazprom Neft’s Novy Port project, also on the Yamal Peninsula. Other projects, such as Exxon Mobile and Rosneft’s project to develop offshore fields in the Kara Sea, have fared less well due to Western sanctions. It is clear from the Arctic strategies that Russia did not see itself as having the technological capability to develop the hard-to-access (offshore) resources in the Arctic, but was compelled to attract foreign investment and expertise. This is most clearly stated in the 2013 strategy, which plainly states that Russia on its own does not have the resources or the technology to exploit the energy fields in offshore parts of the Arctic. This still seems to be the case. Russia also has an interest in selling its hydrocarbons to Western markets in order not to undermine prices. This gives Russia a strong incentive to secure the Arctic as a ‘zone of peace and cooperation’ (The President of the Russian Federation 2009), where Russia can attract foreign, mainly Western, energy companies to help develop the new fields. It therefore gives Russia an incentive to strive to have the Western sanctions lifted or limited, at least the ones targeting the Arctic. With sanctions in place Russia has mainly looked to Chinese energy companies for help. But so far—perhaps due to low energy prices, which makes it less profitable to develop the hard-to-access fields in the Arctic—the project has seen little progress.6 In order to develop the Arctic as a resource base for oil and gas extraction, Russia also has to invest heavily in infrastructure in the area, so that the oil and gas can be transported to consumers. This is politically most visible in the ambition to enhance development of the NSR (Sevmorput). The Russian government hopes that the international shipping industry will at some point see an advantage in saving up to nearly 4000 nautical miles on a voyage from Ulsan, Korea, to Rotterdam, Holland. In March 2018, Putin rather optimistically tasked his government with ensuring that the NSR develops into ‘a truly global and competitive transport route’ with a surge in shipment along the route from 8 million tons a year in 2018 to 80 million tons by 2025 (Putin 2018). So far the sea route has not been as successful in attracting cargo as Russia had hoped, though. In 2010, only four cargo ships transited. In 2013, the number had risen to 71 transits or nearly 1.36 million tons of cargo. In 2015, however, the number of transits fell to 18 or approximately 39,600 tons of cargo, because of lower fuel prices and the political isolation of Russia due to Western sanctions (Soroka 2016). In 2018, the number of cargo transits was still rather low at only 27. Putin has furthermore worked hard to secure an influx of investment in the NSR, most notably from China by trying to connect it to China’s Belt and Road initiative (Staalesen 2019d; The President of the Russian Federation 2019). A further impediment to the viability of the transportation route is the high prices on insurance due to risk assessments by insurance companies (Sarrabezoles et al. 2016).

6 One

of the successes is Novatek’s Yamal LNG project, where subsidiaries of the China National Petroleum Corporation own 20% alongside France’s Total (10%), Novatek (50.1%) and the Silk Road Fond (9.9%).


J. Staun

Russia also has a stated interest in having the NSR recognised as internal waters. In Russian legislation the term internal waters includes the waters of the White Sea, the Cheshkaya and Baridaratskaya Bays, including the waters separating the mainland from the archipelagos (Østreng 2010) This interpretation is somewhat controversial (Flake 2017: 19)—and strongly disputed by the US (Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy 2019). The Russian interest is not only to have legislation in place for the promoted surge in traffic and in order to levy taxes on users of the NSR; it is also a means to control access to the northern waters, which grow more strategically important as the ice melts.7 With regard to fisheries, Russia also has a strong incentive in cooperating with the other Arctic coastal states. When the Arctic Five states (the US, Canada, Russia, Denmark (Greenland) and Norway) in July 2015 voted to support a moratorium on fishing in the Central Arctic Region, they ensured that fishing will not become a source of conflict. Russia has, due to UNCLOS rules, ‘exclusive and undisputed rights to all living organisms in the water column to 200 nautical miles (337 km) from its shoreline’ (Flake 2017: 18). Russia furthermore wants its claims to the undersea territory outside the 200nautical mile limit recognised by the CLCS. The main material reason is that a small portion of the hydrocarbon wealth is located around the North Pole. In August 2015, Russia resubmitted its claim (The Russian Government 2015)—its original claim was submitted in December 2001. Russia claims the seabed of an area measuring approximately 1.2 million km2 along the Lomonosov and Mendeleev Ridges, which Russia argues are an extension of the Siberian continental shelf, all the way past the symbolic North Pole—to which it is entitled according to UNCLOS rules. After the CLCS has assessed the scientific value of the claim, Russia must agree with the other involved littoral states—the US, Denmark, Norway and Canada—on how to divide the undersea territory. Summing up, Russia has a marked civilian national interest in securing the Arctic as a zone of peaceful cooperation, so that it can attract long-term investment and induce foreign energy companies to partner up with the two Russian state-owned energy conglomerates, Rosneft (oil) and Gazprom (gas), with a view to getting access to the technology and knowhow and thus developing the hard-to-access fields offshore in the Arctic. Since most of the known reserves are located within Russia’s 200-nautical mile limit, Russia has a marked interest in securing the UNCLOS regime, which gives it the sole right to exploit these fields. Russia also wants to develop the NSR, so that the oil and gas may be transported to consumers in Europe and Asia, and so that it may develop the northern shores. And it wants to have the NSR recognised as a national transport route.

7 According

to new Russian rules, a foreign state must send a notification of a ship travelling along the NSR at least 45 days in advance and include a description of the ship, its objective, route and period of sailing as well as data on the ship’s motor, the name of the captain etc. (Staalesen 2019c). Additional limitations have been placed on foreign warships (Sudakov 2019).

A Two-Faced Russia? Civilian Interests and Great Power Politics …


Russia’s Military Build-up in the Arctic Alongside the cooperative line in the Arctic, which mostly resembles the policy of a status quo power, Russia has been building up its military forces in the Arctic— as it has in large parts of the country. Russia’s security interests in the Arctic are not singled out in one publicly available document, but are reflected in its Arctic strategies, following the overall lines in Russia’s military doctrines from 2010 and 2014 and its National Security Strategy from 2015 (Rossiskaya Gazeta 2015; The President of the Russian Federation 2010, 2014). Judging from the Arctic strategies from 2008 and 2013, Russia’s security interests in the Arctic are subordinate to the civilian interest in securing the Russian Arctic as a resource base for the Russian economy. The Arctic strategy from 2013 states that Russia’s security interests in the Arctic are the provision of ‘favourable operation conditions’, maintaining the ‘necessary level of combat readiness’ of Russia’s armed forces in the area. ‘Ensure comprehensive combat and mobilization readiness level’ to prevent ‘non-military pressure and aggression against the Russian Federation and its allies’, ‘ensure the sovereign rights of Russia’s Arctic’, provide ‘strategic deterrence’ and, ‘in the event of armed conflict, repel aggression and obtain a cessation of hostilities on terms that meet the interests of Russian Federation’ (The President of the Russian Federation 2013: 18). The Foreign Policy Concept from 2016 states that ‘Russia will be firm in countering any attempts to introduce elements of political or military confrontation in the Arctic’ (The Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2016: 76). In plain text: Russia will react if the US and/or NATO countries start building up forces or become more active in the Arctic. Russia’s naval strategy from 2017 states that among existing and emerging threats (opasnosti) is the ‘aspiration of a range of states, primarily the United States of America (USA) and its allies, to dominate on the World Ocean, including the Arctic, and to achieve overwhelming superiority of their naval forces’. Another threat mentioned here is the aspiration of a range of states to secure for themselves access to hydrocarbon resources, including in the Arctic (The President of the Russian Federation 2017). As the chief of the general staff, Valery Gerasimov, has put it, there is a risk of enhanced competition over the world’s resources in the future (Gerasimov 2013). And this competition also affects the Arctic. As Minister of Defence Sergei Shoigu stated in 2015: A ‘broad spectrum of potential challenges and threats to our national security is now being formed in the Arctic’ (Bender 2015). In 2018, Shoigu argued that competition among the Arctic states could lead to conflict (Shoigu 2018b). The Arctic is the home base of a large part of Russia’s nuclear deterrence capability, which is the main component in securing its great power position. Thus, the Arctic functions as the deployment area for Russia’s strategic air force, and the Arctic is home to a large part of Russia’s sea-based strategic deterrent in the Northern Fleet, approximately 60% of its sea-based nuclear warheads8 (Åtland 2014: 153, 2018). 8 The remaining around 40% of Russia’s sea-based strategic nuclear weapons are placed at the Rus-

sian Pacific Fleet’s SSBN’s, which are based at Vilyuchinsk at Kamptjatka. They also occasionally operate in Arctic Waters (Åtland 2018).


J. Staun

The Russian Northern Fleet, which is also the home of Russia’s latest military district, North (Server), and the HQ Joint Strategic Command (JSC), has its bases in the European part of the Russian Arctic. The headquarters is in Severomorsk close to Murmansk and is supplemented by several bases along the coast of the Kola Peninsula and in the White Sea. The Barents Sea, as an access route from the White Sea to the Atlantic Ocean, is especially important to Russia from a strategic viewpoint—since the Gulf Stream ensures that the ports in the north can be accessed all year round. Here the Northern Fleet can access the Atlantic, possibly under the nose of NATO, unlike Russia’s Baltic Sea and Black Sea Fleets. Russia’s main military objective in the Arctic is to ensure the survivability of its second-strike nuclear capabilities. This is done by a combination of perimeter defence of the Kola Peninsula and through the so-called ‘Bastion’ defence concept. The Bastion concept encompasses a region which “extends from the Kola Peninsula towards the Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea and further west to the Greenland-Iceland-United Kingdom (GUIK) gap” (Boulègue 2019: 7). Control of the area is sought through sea denial and interdiction capabilities in order to secure the area as an area of operation for the nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs). The prospect of diminishing seasonal ice has opened up the possibility that the Arctic Sea in the long run can be used to move forces from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean or the other way around, which further increases its importance. The melting sea ice, which until now has made the northern flank inaccessible to foreign forces, may in the future lead to a situation, where the northern flank is more open and vulnerable to attacks from surface and subsurface ships against critical infrastructure. Most importantly, Russia sees sea-based anti-ballistic missile (ABM) systems in the Arctic as a potential threat to its second-strike capability. In February 2011, General Nikolai Makarov, then Chief of the Russian General Staff, said that Russia ‘will not accept that U.S. Vessels equipped with the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System operation in our part of the Arctic’ (Åtland 2014: 151). A side effect of the melting sea ice is also that the ‘protective ice cover’, underneath which the submarine fleet has so far been able to hide, slowly vanishes, affecting Russia’s naval doctrine. The change in accessibility and lack of ‘ice cover’ will in the coming years make it imperative for Russia to enhance its forces on the northern shores, especially around the Kola Peninsula and in the White and Kara Seas, with a view to securing its second-strike capability. Furthermore, as the Russian Arctic develops into a resource base for the Russian economy, the necessity of protecting critical infrastructure in the area from attacks becomes more important. Therefore, we will most likely see a build-up of Russian A2/AD capabilities along the northern shores, especially in the north-west. The main task of the Northern JSC is to ensure the nuclear strike capability of the Northern Fleet’s strategic submarines as well as situational awareness and air defence in Russia’s Arctic. In order to fulfil the first task, Russian forces must be able to defend the Kola Peninsula and the surrounding waters. For this purpose, Russia has two motorised army infantry brigades—which are ‘partially repackaged

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from existing units’ (Flake 2017: 21)—namely the 80th in Alakurtti,9 some 60 km from the Finish border, and the 200th at the Sputnik Base in Pechenga, only some 16 km from the Norwegian border. It also has a naval infantry regiment (really a brigade), the 61th, and increasing numbers of special forces, also at the Sputnik Base in Pechenga (Vesti.ru 2014; Gresh 2018). The long-planned Arctic motorised infantry brigade on the Yamal Peninsula has not materialised—its creation is now in doubt. Defence Minister Shoigu has talked of plans for reforming a coastal defence division on the Chukotka Peninsula in 2018 (also a regiment or a brigade) (Surkov et al. 2018). But so far no news on that subject. All in all, a fairly modest land component to cover the vast Arctic areas. Air capabilities are provided by the Northern and Pacific Fleets’ naval aviation forces in cooperation. At disposal are some 27 Tu-142 anti-submarine warfare aircraft and around 29 Il-38 maritime patrol aircraft (Klimenko 2016: 21). The Northern Fleet headquarters has two squadrons of fighter-bomber aircraft and one squadron of longrange fighter aircraft (MiG 31), multirole fighters (MiG-29 or Su 33 (from the carrier Admiral Kuznetsov), at its disposal, along with other fighter aircraft. And then of course there are the 60–70 strategic bombers (50 deployed), Tu-160 Blackjack and Tu-95MS Bear, based at the Engels Base (Saratov Region) and the Ukrainka Air Base (Amur Oblast in the far east), parts of which in the event of a crisis most likely will deploy north (Kristensen and Korda 2019; Kristensen and Norris 2016, 2018) With regard to naval capabilities, Russia’s Northern Fleet commands some 41 submarines of various classes10 (Jane’s 2019). First of all, it has six Delta IV submarines (SSBN), of which four to six are typically operational at any given time. They are said to be armed with 16 modified SS-N-23 (Sineva) SLBM missiles (each missile has a range of 11,000 km and carries up to four warheads11 ) and are based at Yagelnaya Bay (Gadzhiyevo) on the Kola Peninsula. They were built between 1985 and 1992, and until the mid-2020s they will be the mainstay of Russia’s submarinebased nuclear deterrent (Kristensen and Korda 2019; Kristensen and Norris 2018). To relieve the Delta IVs, Russia has striven to get the new powerful Borei-class nuclear submarines (Project 955/A, Yuri Dolgoruki) floating. It is said to be armed with 16 9 The

200th is a Separate Motor Rifle Brigade that includes a main battle tank unit, which has T-80BVMs adapted for Arctic conditions and three motorised rifle units in BTR-82A, artillery and air defence assets. The 80th is a Separate Motor Rifle Brigade with Soviet era MT-LBV vehicles adapted for Arctic conditions (Army Recognition 2018). The 80th has a battalion of 122-mm 2S1 Gvozdika self-propelled howitzers adapted for Arctic conditions and is supported by a small number of Mi-24 attack helicopters and Mi-8 rescue helicopters. It is also supported by two air surveillance regiments, namely the 331st and 332 Radio-Technical Regiments in Severomorsk and Arkhangelsk (Boulègue 2019: 17–18). 10 Army recognition counts 38 surface vessels and 42 submarines (Army Recognition 2018). Jane’s says 41 submarines and 37 surface vessels in the Northern Fleet compared to 21 submarines and 52 surface ships in the Pacific Fleet. Russianships.info (2019) lists 37 active surface vessels in the Northern Fleet and 41 submarines (Russianships.info 2019). In comparison, in the late 1980s the Northern Fleet of the Soviet Union had 172 submarines, including 39 SSBNs, 46 cruise missile submarines and 87 attack submarines (Klimenko 2016: 18). 11 Due to New START the warhead loading on the missiles on Delta IV and Borei submarines may have been reduced (Kristensen and Korda 2019).


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SS-N-32 (Bulava) missiles that have a range of 8300 km and can carry up to six warheads each. Three out of eight submarines have been delivered and are in service: Yuri Dolgoruki (based at Yagelnaya), Alexander Nevsky and Vladimir Monomakh with the Pacific Fleet (in Rybachiy near Petropavlovsk). Five Borei-II-class (BoreiA) submarines are in various stages of construction or testing. The Knyaz Vladimir will join the Northern Fleet in December 2019, and the rest are officially due in onethree years (Kristensen and Korda 2019). Furthermore, expectations are that Russia will decide to build four more Borei-II-class SSBNs to achieve a total of 1212 (Jane’s 2019; TASS 2018). To replace the ageing Akula and Oscar-class attack submarines (SSGN) Russia has launched the Yasen/Severodvinsk-class nuclear attack submarine. At least one (Severodvinsk) out of eight has been delivered and is in service. The next, Kazan, is in sea trials, and will join the Northern Fleet in late 2019, whereas the next six are in various stages of construction. The Yasen class (Severodvinsk-version) is thought to be armed with a conventional or nuclear version of the Kalibr missile (SS-N-30A), which has a range of 1500–2500 km and can stock up to 40 Kalibr missiles. Furthermore, it is armed with SS-N-16 (Veter) nuclear antisubmarine rockets, nuclear torpedoes and Onix/Yakhont (SS-N-26) hypersonic anti-ship/land-attack cruise missiles.13 The Yasen class has experienced severe problems, though, involving the submarine’s sonar system, among others. However, when operational, the Borei- and Yasen-class submarines will, due to their enhanced number and warheads, add to the possible nuclear inventory of the Northern Fleet. With regard to surface vessels, the Northern Fleet has approximately 35–37 surface ships (13 large vessels, 10 operational)—compared to around 100 during Soviet times. Russia’s sole aircraft carrier (Admiral Kuznetzsov) is in repair dock, and as the repair dock sunk (Moscow Times 2018a), and it will take some effort to get Kuznetzsov operational again. Out of its two remaining Kirov-class cruisers, only one, Pyotr Velikiy, is in service, awaiting modernisation. The Northern Fleet has one Sovremenny-class guided missile destroyer in service (Besstrashny), five Udloy-class destroyers (Kulakov) and one Admiral Gorskov-class frigate in service (Admiral Gorshkov). With regard to surface vessels, there is a trend towards fewer large battle ships of Soviet legacy and more new, smaller vessels, mainly frigates and corvettes, armed with Kalibr missiles, which essentially will make the Russian fleet more long-range and more offensive. Please note that few of the Northern Fleet’s ships are designed to ice-class standards, meaning that they cannot operate independently in the ice-filled Arctic waters (Carlsson and Granholm 2013: 30). One important trend to watch for is that Russia over a ten-year period has built up new air defence bases or revived old Soviet bases in the Arctic and equipped them with layered air defence systems and combinations of short-, medium- and long-range 12 Kristensen

and Korda says up to ten boats (Kristensen and Korda 2019). Other sources speak of up to 14 Borei and Borei II (Borei A) nuclear submarines (Gady 2019). 13 Furthermore, Russia’s Northern Fleet has six active Akula-class submarines, four Sierra I-IIIclass (SSGN) (nuclear guided missile submarine) (Kondor), four Victor III-class, one Lada-class submarine and seven Kilo-class diesel electric submarines (Novosibirsk), where the Rostov on Don fired Kalibr missiles at targets in Syria in the Mediterranean on 8 December 2015 (Jane’s 2019).

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air defence systems14 (Åtland 2018; Boulègue 2019: 7). On the Kola Peninsula and in Tiksi, Russia has set up S-400 surface-to-air missile (SAM) regiments, with a purported range of up to 400 km.15 On Novaya Zemlya, a S-300 SAM regiment (nuclear capable SA-10/20 interceptor) has been deployed. The S-300 officially has a range of up to 300 km. On Kotelny Island a Bastion coastal missile system with Onix (SS-N-26) subsonic, anti-ship cruise missiles with a purported range of 300 km has been established. On Tiksi, a garrison with 100 soldiers from the Northern Fleet’s 45th Army (radio technical and anti-aircraft units) has been established permanently alongside the S-400 SAM regiment (Staalesen 2019a). Reportedly, the base can support 4,600 soldiers for several months. The New Siberian Islands now house a Bastion-P coastal missile system and a radar, which officially is to help protect the Northern Sea Route (TASS 2019). Wrangel Island and Cape Schmidt mainly house small radar outposts with a few dozen troops to operate them. They provide improved air and sea surveillance. There are also radar units on the coast of the Kara Sea: at Alykel (near Norilsk), Chokurdy, Chersky and Taymylvan. Most of the minor bases in the Arctic are multi-purpose posts with a combination of surveillance, border control and search and rescue functions able to accommodate military units temporarily. They are not designed to house significant combat forces; rather they appear to be intended to show presence, monitor movement and deter intruders. Furthermore, in 2007 Russia resumed long-range air-patrols over the North Atlantic and has since expanded its regular aviation patrols in the Arctic and now cover the international airspace over the Barents Sea, the Greenland sea, the Arctic Ocean, the North Atlantic as well as the Bering Strait, thus covering the Northern Sea Route. According to official Russian sources, the Northern Fleet conducted more than 100 patrols over the Arctic Ocean in 2018, among them patrols in the waters around the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago (Boulègue 2019: 9, 27). Russia has since 2014 conducted regular parachuting exercises close to the North Pole, using the temporary Barneo base, situated on a floating ice floe, for about a month in April. It has made simulated wing attacks against Norwegian air bases and radar stations in Northern Norway, especially against the US-funded Bodø-radar (Norum 2018), and activated GPS-jamming equipment affecting Northern Norway and Finland during the NATO exercise Trident Juncture in 2018 (Nilsen 2018). Still, Russian infrastructure remain somewhat sporadic in the region, reflecting the hard operating conditions with large distances between isolated bases, extreme 14 The short-range air defence systems are mostly the Pantsir S-1 or Tor M2DT. The Tor M2DT is designed specifically for Arctic conditions, and according to the Russian Ministry of Defence, 12 such unites were delivered to the Arctic forces in 2018 (Moscow Times 2018b). Also the Pantsir S-1 now comes in an Arctic version, which is to be delivered to Russia’s Arctic forces (Army Recognition 2019). 15 The S-400 is often described as having a 400-km range and being able to hit a range of targets at all heights and speeds. However, the 40N6 missile with the purported 400-km range is not yet operational and has failed several tests. More likely, the range should be set between 200 and 250 km, at medium to high altitudes against large, high-value targets such as AWACS surveillance aircraft or aircraft for transport. Effective range against ‘agile fighter jets and cruise missiles operating at low altitudes can be as little as 20–35 km’ (Dalsjö et al. 2019: 10).


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weather and still-lacking infrastructure. Even if Russia is expanding its bases, air defence systems and radar stations in the Russian Arctic, it still has not fulfilled the goal outlined in the Russian State Armament Procurement Program (GPV) 2020 from 2011: to build or reopen 13 airfields, 10 radar sites and direction centres. It is getting there, though.16 Among the potentially offensive developments seen in the Russian Arctic is the increased building of air bases with long-range air defence systems and airbases on the archipelagos along the northern coast. On Alexandra Land, which is located at the intersection of the Barents Sea, the Kara Sea and the Arctic Ocean, Russia has built the air base Nagurskoye, composed of three interconnected buildings, a prototype base to be built on other islands in the Arctic along the NSR—so far a similar construction has been built on Tiksi and one seems to be in process on the New Siberian Islands (Staalesen 2018, 2019b; Sukhanin 2018). Officially, the base on Alexandra Land can host at least 180 military personnel for 18 months without requiring any outside supplies or provisions (Sukhanin 2018). The base is home to a small, combined tactical group, possibly several hundred troops, a Pantsir S-1 SAM regiment as well as a Bastion-P missile system for naval targets. It also is the home of a 2500-m hard surfaced runway, which at present is being expanded to 3500 m, meaning that “even the largest transport-, bombing- and anti-submarine airplanes” can land there (Danish Defence Intelligence Services 2019: 14). In the near future (or now), four MiG-31K fighter jets will be/have been stationed here (Staalesen 2016). These fighter jets, a modified version of the MiG-31BM, can carry the new Kinzhal (Kh-47M2/Dagger) hypersonic missile, which purportedly has a speed of up to Mach 10, making it very hard to defend against. The fighter has an operational range of up to 2000 km, but if supported by an Il-78 refuelling tanker, its missiles may be able to target the US Thule Airbase on the western coast of Greenland or hit targets far into the North Atlantic, thereby threatening NATO’s ability to secure its sea lines of communication over the North Atlantic. According to the Russian press reports, Russia’s defence ministry plans to increase its (offensive) air power in the area by adding two squadrons of Mig-31 interceptor aircraft, adapted to carry the Kinzhal missile, to its bases in the High North, most likely the Monchegorsk Air Field in the Murmansk Region (Ramm and Kozachenko 2019). These can easily be deployed to other parts of the Russian Arctic. Furthermore, Russia’s exercise pattern—like the Vostok 2018, which involved the largest deployment of the Northern Fleet in the post-Cold War era—shows an increasing focus on defence against massive enemy air strikes, repelling enemy landing forces and the firing of anti-ship cruise missiles from ships, from positions ashore and from submarines (Norberg 2018). As of late Russia’s Northern Fleet has begun exercising attacking sea lines of communication (SLOCs), carrier battlegroups and protection against air and missile attacks in the Arctic (Jane’s 2019). Furthermore, the Northern Fleet has also started exercising protecting the Northern Sea Route.

16 Back in 2016, the Swedish Defence Research Agency argued in a report that ‘[a]ir defence assets are scarce and covering the entire region is a tall order’ (Persson 2016: 82). To some extent, this is still the case, taking the large distances into account. For a similar view, see: Boulègue (2019: 25).

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All in all, Russia’s rearmament in the Arctic is mostly focused on global balancing of US/NATO forces, which is partly a derived effect of Russia’s stated goal of being/becoming a leading world power, partly a defensive move due to US/NATO balancing. The military build-up in the Arctic, where much effort goes into securing Russia’s second-strike capability and building A2/AD abilities, has, at least until now, been more about militarisation in the Arctic than militarisation for the Arctic. But this may be changing. At least parts of the Russian exercises in the Arctic have focused on protecting the Northern Sea Route. And some of the official rhetoric in connection with new delivering of new weapons systems to the Arctic bases has also revolved around the ability to protect the Northern Sea Route. This is most likely more the case for the build-up in the Central and Eastern parts of Russia’s High North. In the Western part of Russia’s Arctic the build-up seems mostly focused on balancing US/NATO. Underlining this is the fact that the large swaths of vessels belonging to Russia’s Northern Fleet are not of ice-class standard and therefore cannot operate independently in the Arctic underlines that much of Russia’s build-up focus on the ability to get out of the Arctic and into the Atlantic. Essentially, Russia’s strategy in the Arctic is to secure its second strike capability, secure access to the high seas and to disrupt NATO’s transatlantic link as well as deny NATO access to the Arctic (Kjaergaard 2018).

Conclusion Russia has so far pursued a deliberate, and successful, two-track approach to the Arctic. First, pursuing its civilian interest in turning the Russian Arctic into a resource base for the Russian economy, a policy course it has followed with great enthusiasm since around 2008 and 2009. This makes good sense, taking into account the Russian federal budget’s dependence on revenues and taxes from oil and gas extraction as well as the estimated placement of the yet undiscovered oil and gas fields, as most are included in the 200-nautical mile EEZ limit, to which Russia has exclusive rights, according to UNCLOS rules. This is also the main reason why Russia can be seen as a staunch supporter of the UNCLOS regime, whether or not its claim to the area outside the 200-nautical mile limit is recognised by the CLCS. Furthermore, Russia has set a course to develop the NSR, so that the prospected oil and gas from the Arctic fields may be transported to consumers in Europe and Asia. It also wants to have the NSR recognised as a national transport route and exclusive rights to determining who sails where and when. The US Department of Defense Arctic Strategy states that ‘Russia has generally followed international law and procedure in establishing the limits of its extended continental shelf. Russia could choose to unilaterally establish those limits if the procedures prove unfavourable and could utilize its military capabilities in an effort to deny access to disputed Arctic waters or resources’17 (Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy 2019). This seems highly unlikely, considering the 17 For

a similar opinion, see Danish Defence Intelligence Services (2018).


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Russian civilian interest in securing a peaceful and cooperative Arctic environment and taking into account the fact that Russia has a strong interest in gathering more traffic along the NSR, attracting foreign capital and technology and reserving the ability to sell its oil and gas to the West. Alongside its predominantly civilian status quo policy in the Arctic, Russia has been building up its military forces in the area. As a consequence of the general military build-up, which has affected most parts of the country, it has pursued a policy of closing the northern flank, which was left open after the demise of the Soviet Union, and it is in a process of modernising its nuclear submarine fleet, where the Borei-class and Yasen-class submarines supplant older models. A modernisation, which in itself enhances the possible number of nuclear warheads under the command of the Northern Fleet and the importance of the strategic deterrent of the Russian submarines. However, we are still far from Cold War era figures. Russia has also upgraded its land forces on the Kola Peninsula with a total manpower of three brigades. This is a modest level, considering the size of the Arctic area. The size of the air force continues to be fairly modest, and large parts of its role seem unchanged. However, with the ability to carry hypersonic missiles on modified MiG 31’s, and with the construction of air bases along the NSR, the Northern Fleet’s air capabilities are becoming more efficient and offensive. The main role of the Russian navy remains the provision of sea-based nuclear deterrence and defending national interests in the areas adjacent to its territorial waters. The navy mostly concentrates on supporting littoral-focussed coastal defence and expeditionary operations close to home and remains mainly defensive in nature. Its main task is to protect Russia’s nuclear deterrent. However, with the increased distribution of surface ship- and subsurface-launched cruise missiles—mainly the Kalibr missile with a range of up to 2000 km—its non-strategic parts are becoming increasingly long-range and offensive. Combined with air defence systems that enhance Russia’s A2/AD capabilities in the Arctic and long-range fighter jets armed with hypersonic missiles, there is a risk that Russia’s military build-up will lead to enhanced pressure on NATO’s ability to secure and uphold sea lines of communication in the North Atlantic (the Greenland-Iceland-UK or GIUK gap) and to reinforce its forces in Northern Europe. If the US/NATO responds to this challenge by building up forces in the Arctic or by enhancing its presence there, which seems increasingly likely (Sengupta 2019), Russia will most likely feel the need to respond (to the US or NATO response). The new US Department of Defense Arctic Strategy states that ‘Russia regulates maritime operations in the NSR, contrary to international law, and has reportedly threatened to use force against vessels that fail to abide by Russian regulations’. It goes on to say that, ‘when necessary and appropriate, the United States will challenge excessive maritime claims in the Arctic’ (Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy 2019). It will do so in order to secure its right to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows. This does not bode well for Russia’s claim that the NSR is national waters, and basically means that we risk enhanced polarisation of the relationship between the US and Russia in the Arctic in the time to come. All in all, there is a great risk of a developing NATO-Russia security dilemma, which could cause Russia to adopt a more non-cooperative approach in the Arctic.

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However, Russia has strong interests in not starting an arms race with NATO. Not only economic and political interests, also military. As John J. Mearsheimer argues, states seek not to start an arms race, which is ‘unlikely to improve their overall position’ (Mearsheimer 2014: 37)—and an arms race in the Arctic with NATO will be detrimental to Russia’s civilian interests in the Arctic. And even if Russia at present is the strongest military power in the Arctic, Russia will not be able to uphold that advantage due to the sheer size of the US and NATO countries military budgets.

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Moscow Times. (2018b, November 26). Russian army receives first batch of missile systems designed for Arctic. Moscow Times. https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2018/11/26/russianarmy-receives-first-batch-missile-systems-designed-for-arctic-a63591. Neumann, I. B. (2008). Russia as a great power, 1815–2007. Journal of International Relations and Development. Nilsen, T. (2018, November 13). GPS jamming came from Kola, Defense Ministry in Norway confirms. The Barents Observer. https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/security/2018/11/gps-jammingcame-kola-defense-ministry-norway-confirms. Accessed July 30, 2019. Norberg, J. (2018). Training for war. Russia’s strategic-level military exercises 2009–2017 (No. FOI-R-4627-SE). FOI. https://www.foi.se/rest-api/report/FOI-R–4627–SE. Accessed June 17, 2019. Norum, H. (2018, May 3). Russland simulerte angrep på Vardø-radar (Russia simulated attack against Vardø-radar). NRK.no. https://www.nrk.no/norge/_-russland-simulerte-angrep-pa-vardoradar-1.13946450. Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. (2019, June). Report to congress. Department of Defence Arctic Strategy. https://media.defense.gov/2019/Jun/06/2002141657/-1/-1/1/ 2019-DOD-ARCTIC-STRATEGY.PDF. Østreng, W. (2010). The northern sea route and jurisdictional controversy. Arctic Knowledge Hub. http://www.arctis-search.com/Northern+Sea+Route+and+Jurisdictional+Controversy. Patrushev, N. (2015, June 22). Za destabilizatsiyey Ukrainy skryvayetsya popytka radikal’nogo oslableniya Rossii (Behind the destabilization of Ukraine lies an attempt to radically weaken Russia). Kommersant. https://www.kommersant.ru/doc/2752250. Patrusjev, N. (2014, October 16). Cold war II. Nikolay Patrushev: The ‘sobering up of the Ukrainians will be harsh and painful’. Rossiskaja Gazeta (via BBC Monitoring). Persson, G. (2016). Russia’s military capability in a Ten-year perspective (Vol. FOI-R–4326–SE). Stockholm: FOI. Pezard, S., Tingstad, Abbie, Van Abel, K., & Stephenson, S. (2017). Maintaining Arctic cooperation with Russia. Planning for Regional Change in the Far North. RAND. https://www.rand.org/pubs/ research_reports/RR1731.html. Poulsen, N. B., & Staun, J. (2018). Kreml i Krig: Ruslands brug af militær magt (The Kremlin at War: Russia’s use of military force). København: DJØF Forlag. President of the Russian Federation. (2009, May 12). Russia’s National Security Strategy to 2020. http://rustrans.wikidot.com/russia-s-national-security-strategy-to-2020. Putin, V. (1999, December 30). Rossiya na rubezhe tysyacheletiy (Russia at the Turn of the Millennium). Nezavisimaya Gazeta. http://www.ng.ru/politics/1999-12-30/4_millenium.html. Accessed August 8, 2018. Putin, Vladimir. (2007). Speech of Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Munich Conference on Security Policy. Putin, V. (2018, January 3). Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly. President of Russia. http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/56957. Putin, V. (2014, December). Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly. http://en.kremlin.ru/ events/president/news/47173. Ramm, A., & Kozachenko, A. (2019, May 2). Severnaya MiGratsiya: v Arktike budet sozdan istrebitel’nyy aviapolk (Northern MiG(ration): a fighter regiment will be created in the Arctic). Izvestia. https://iz.ru/839212/aleksei-ramm-aleksei-kozachenko/severnaia-migratciia-varktike-buden-sozdan-istrebitelnyi-aviapolk. Renz, B. (2014). Russian military capability after 20 years of reform. Survival, 56(3), 61–84. Rossiskaya Gazeta. (2015, December 31). The national security strategy of the Russian Federation. http://rg.ru/2015/12/31/nac-bezopasnost-site-dok.html. Russianships.info. (2019, July 23). Russian Navy 2019. http://russianships.info/eng/today/. Accessed July 30, 2019. Sarrabezoles, A., Lasserre, F., & Hagouagn’rin, Z. (2016). Arctic shipping insurance: towards a harmonisation of practices and costs? Polar Record, 52(4).


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Sengupta, S. (2019, June 5). United States rattles Arctic talks with a sharp warning to China and Russia. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/06/climate/pompeo-arcticchina-russia.html. Shoigu, S. (2018a, July 24). Moscow hosted the meeting of Defence Ministry Board Session. Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation. http://eng.mil.ru/en/news_page/country/more.htm? [email protected] Shoigu, S. (2018b, August 31). Shoygu: Arktika stala tsentrom interesov ryada gosudarstv, chto mozhet privesti k konfliktam (Shoigu: The Arctic has become the center of interest of a number of states, which can lead to conflicts). Tass.ru. https://tass.ru/armiya-i-opk/5509944. SIPRI. (2017). SIPRI military expenditure database. https://www.sipri.org/databases/milex. SIPRI. (2018). SIPRI military expenditure database: Russia. SIPRI military expenditure database. Accessed February 5, 2019. Soroka, G. (2016). Putin’s Arctic ambitions. Russia’s economic aspirations in the far north. Foreign Affairs. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/russia-fsu/2016-05-05/putins-arctic-ambitions. Staalesen, A. (2016, April 22). Fighter jets for Russia’s new Arctic base. The Barents Observer. https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/2016/04/fighter-jets-russias-new-arctic-base. Staalesen, A. (2018, September 3). Russia builds another military base in East Arctic. The Independent Barents Observer. https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/2018/09/russia-buildsanother-military-base-east-arctic. Staalesen, A. (2019a, January 30). A new Russian Arctic naval base in the Sakha Republic is almost finished. Arctic Today. https://www.arctictoday.com/a-new-russian-arctic-naval-base-inthe-sakha-republic-is-almost-finished/. Staalesen, A. (2019b, January 30). New Arctic naval base built in 6 months. The Barents Observer. https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/civil-society-and-media/2019/01/new-arctic-navalbase-built-6-months. Accessed November 6, 2019. Staalesen, A. (2019c, March 8). Russia sets out stringent new rules for the Northern Sea Route. The Independent Barents Observer. https://www.arctictoday.com/russia-sets-out-stringent-newrules-for-foreign-ships-on-the-northern-sea-route/. Staalesen, A. (2019d, April 30). Putin steps up talks with Beijing over Arctic shipping. The Barents Observer. https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/2019/04/putin-steps-talks-beijing-over-arcticshipping. Staun, J. (2017). Russia’s strategy in the Arctic. Cooperation, not conflict. Polar Record, 53(3), 314–332. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0032247417000158. Sudakov, D. (2019, May 30). Russia declares northern passage effectively closed to foreign warships. Pravda.ru. http://www.pravdareport.com/russia/142436-northern_sea_route/. Sukhanin, S. (2018). The Arctic ‘Trilistnik’—Russia’s bid for regional military superiority. Eurasia Daily Monitor (EDM), 15(127). https://jamestown.org/program/the-arctic-trilistnik-russias-bidfor-regional-military-superiority/?mc_cid=d0826fe69b&mc_eid=11ee4659ba. Surkov, N., Ramm, A., & Andreyev, E. (2018, March 21). Brigady morskoy pekhoty «potyazheleyut» (Marine brigade’s weight loss). Isvetia. https://iz.ru/716512/nikolai-surkov-alekseiramm-evgenii-dmitriev/brigady-morskoi-pekhoty-potiazheleiut?mc_cid=fd0592b435&mc_ eid=11ee4659ba. TASS. (2018, May 21). Russia to build 6 more Borei—A strategic nuclear-powered submarines— source. TASS—Russian News Agency. http://tass.com/defense/1005356. TASS. (2019, November 19). Bastion coastal defense missile systems deployed on Franz Joseph Land in Russian Arctic. TASS. https://tass.com/defense/1090375. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, T. M. (2016, November 30). Foreign policy concept of the Russian Federation. http://www.mid.ru/en/web/guest/foreign_policy/official_documents/-/ asset_publisher/CptICkB6BZ29/content/id/2542248. The President of the Russian Federation. (2009, March 27). Osnovy gosudarstvennoy politiki Rossiyskoy Federatsii v Arktike na period do 2020 goda i dal’neyshuyu perspektivu (The Foundation of the state policy of the Russian Federation in the Arctic for the period up to 2020 and beyond). Rossiskaya Gazeta. https://rg.ru/2009/03/30/arktika-osnovy-dok.html.

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The President of the Russian Federation. (2010, February 5). Voyennaya doktrina Rossiyskoy Federatsii (Military doctrine of the Russian Federation). http://kremlin.ru/supplement/461. Accessed October 5, 2019. The President of the Russian Federation. (2013). Strategy for the development of the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation and National Security Efforts for the period up to 2020. http://government. ru/info/18360/. The President of the Russian Federation. (2014, December 30). Voyennaya doktrina Rossiyskoy Federatsii (Military doctrine of the Russian Federation). Rossiskaya Gazeta. https://rg.ru/2014/ 12/30/doktrina-dok.html. The President of the Russian Federation. (2017, July 27). Ob utverzhdenii Osnov gosudarstvennoy politiki Rossiyskoy Federatsii v oblasti voyenno-morskoy deyatel’nosti na period do 2030 goda (On approval of the fundamentals of the state policy of the Russian Federation in the field of naval activities for the period up to 2030). http://kremlin.ru/acts/bank/42117. The President of the Russian Federation. (2019, April 27). Roundtable discussion at Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. President of Russia. http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/ news/60393. The Russian Government. (2015). Partial revised submission of the Russian Federation to the commission on the limits of the continental shelf in respect of the continental shelf of the Russian Federation in the Arctic ocean. Arctic Portal. http://library.arcticportal.org/1862/. Accessed February 5, 2019. Tsygankov, A. P. (2008). Russia’s international assertiveness. What does it mean for the west? Problems of Post-Communism. USGS. (2008). Circum-Arctic resource appraisal: Estimates of undiscovered oil and gas north of the arctic circle. Denver: U.S. Geological Survey. Vasiliev, A. (2013). The Arctic, our home and future. http://www.arctic-info.com/Regions/196/ ExpertOpinion/08-05-2013/the-arctic–our-home-and-future. Vesti.ru. (2014, June 28). Morskoy pekhoty v Arktike stanet bol’she (There will be more marines in the Arctic). http://www.vesti.ru/doc.html?id=2158990&mc_cid=fd0592b435&mc_ eid=11ee4659ba. Zysk, K. (2015). Mellom fredsretorikk og militær opprustning: Russlands sikkerhedspolitiske og militære atferd i nordområderne (Between peace rhetoric and military disarmament: Russia’s security policy and military behavior in the northern regions). Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.

Jørgen Staun is Ph.D. in International Relations from University of Copenhagen. He is Associate Professor at the Royal Danish Defence College (RDDC), Institute for Strategy. His main area of research is Russian foreign and security policy. Before coming to the RDDC he was a project researcher at the Danish Institute for International Relations (DIIS). His latest publications in English concerning Russia are “Russia’s strategi in the Arctic. Cooperation, not confrontation”, (2017) in Polar Record, Cambridge and “Russia’s Strategy in the Arctic” from the RDDC Publishing House (2015). Other recent publications are: “Normal at last. German strategic culture and the Holocaust”, RDDC Publishing House (2017).

No UNCLOS, No Icebreakers, No Clue? U.S. Arctic Policy Through the Eyes of Congress Victoria Herrmann and Lillian Hussong

On a snowy March morning in 2015, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) took the floor of the U.S. Senate in Washington, DC. In two months’ time, the United States would take on the Arctic Council Chairmanship from Canada, steering the intergovernmental forum on issues of scientific cooperation, environmental protection, and sustainable development. With one eye toward past ambivalence and the other toward future ambition, Senator Murkowski began her circumpolar call to action: The United States is an Arctic Nation because of Alaska, but the Arctic community is a partner to each and every state; the sooner we fully engage and take on a leadership role, the better. There are new possibilities and opportunities emerging in the Arctic, and we have the chance to write history there. The eyes of the world are on the United States, watching whether we will demonstrate a sense of vision there, as nations as varied as Italy and India and Iceland all make major investments in the region. We cannot afford to miss out on the opportunities the Arctic presents to us (Murkowski 2015).

Unfortunately, since the purchase of Russian Alaska by Secretary of State William Seward in 1867, the U.S. has been missing out on opportunities to engage in Arctic policy and cooperation at nearly every turn (Office of the Historian U.S. Department of State 2019). America is oft described as the reluctant Arctic nation; in spite of its geopolitical potential to become a circumpolar superpower, that potential remains unrealized. With no strong fleet of icebreakers, no UNCLOS membership, and neither a regional nor grand strategy, the positioning of the U.S. as an ill-prepared Arctic power simultaneously undermines its own national security and limits its role in fostering peace across the North. With her March 2015 Senate proclamation, Senator Murkowski sought to change that course of history. Accompanied on the floor by Senator Angus King (I-ME), the two colleagues formally announced the formation of the United States Senate Arctic Caucus. The Caucus was meant as a group to convene conversations among Members V. Herrmann (B) · L. Hussong The Arctic Institute Center for Crcumpolar Security Studies, P.O. Box 21194, Washington, DC 20009, USA e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 J. Weber (ed.), Handbook on Geopolitics and Security in the Arctic, Frontiers in International Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-45005-2_2



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and staff on defense, science, commerce, trade, environment, maritime affairs, the well-being of the people of the North, and other relevant issues in the Arctic region (King 2015). The interceding years between 2015 and 2019 witnessed much change in America and the Arctic region: the U.S. transitioned into a new presidential administration from President Barack Obama to President Donald Trump; Finland, and now Iceland, ascended to the Arctic Council Chairmanship upon the completion of America’s twoyear leadership; and the global community came together to support a two degree warming limit in the Paris Agreement (United Nations 2015; Office of the White House 2016). There has been some scholarship on the geopolitical implications rendered for the Arctic by these national, regional, and global events; however, current analysis too often focuses on the influence of individual leaders and executive action at the expense of unpacking the role of congressional actions in U.S. Arctic policy and engagement. The chapter to follow analyzes the role of Congress in U.S. Arctic policy-making and military leadership. First, the chapter provides a brief survey of U.S. congressional actors and actions related to Arctic security, using a widened security perspective to include the nexus of national, climate, energy, and military security measures. To do this, we use a critical discourse analysis of published documents, speeches, and legislation to analyze five American Arctic security themes: (1) the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS); (2) icebreaking vessels; (3) U.S. Arctic leadership; (4) energy security; and (5) climate security. In examining U.S. security decisions in the Arctic, we find that despite sustained interest in these themes, U.S. Arctic action, and lack thereof, is largely driven by external forcer events and internal political opportunities. The chapter then concludes with a consideration of what the future holds for U.S. engagement in the Arctic and pathways for augmented congressional support for leadership in the region.

Mapping U.S. Congressional Actions Related to Arctic Security from 2007 to 2018 U.S. Arctic policy in the last decade may best be characterized by the idiom “one step forward, two steps back.” There are certainly notable events during President Obama’s tenure in office that advanced the U.S.’ agenda in the Arctic: the president issued the National Strategy for the Arctic Region in 2013, became the first sitting president to visit the Alaskan Arctic in 2015, and hosted the first-ever White House Arctic Science Ministerial in 2016 (Obama White House Archive 2015). In spite of these accomplishments, other obstacles persisted: Congress failed to fund new Coast Guard icebreakers, and the partisan gridlock over ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas endured. The Trump administration has also made progress and caused setbacks for the Arctic: the Coast Guard received longawaited funding to commence its next icebreaker construction project, yet UNCLOS

No UNCLOS, No Icebreakers, No Clue? …


remains unaddressed; senior diplomatic officials have made statements at the Arctic Council and bilateral state meetings about developing U.S. Arctic activities, but the positions for the U.S. Special Representative to the Arctic and Special Envoy for Climate Change have been abolished.1 While presidents have the ability to mold policy toward certain outcomes according to their weltanschauung, Congress has the imperative to propose, fund, and enact the laws and activities that steer U.S. activities. President Nixon, for example, was responsible for issuing the first U.S. Arctic policy statement in “National Security Decision Memorandum 144” (NSDM-144) in 1971.2 Yet it was not until President Ronald Reagan issued “National Security Decision Directive 90” (NSDD-90) in 1983 that Congress followed suit, passing the first law known as the “Arctic Research and Policy Act of 1984.”3 In order to provide a foundation upon which to analyze circumstances that have affected U.S. Arctic policy since 2007, we begin our survey of legislation that features the keyword “Arctic” in 1973. The Library of Congress’ digital archive yields 986 results for legislation containing the word “Arctic” between 1973 and 2018, as seen in Fig. 1. The search results indicate that 459 pieces of legislation were proposed

Fig. 1 Congressional legislation containing the word “Arctic” between 1973 and 2018

1 Ronald

O’Rourke, “Coast Guard Polar Security Cutter (Polar Icebreaker) Program: Background and Issues for Congress,” Congressional Research Service, Report RL34391, October 4, 2019, 1–67; Rachel Waldholz, “Tillerson proposes scrapping Arctic and climate envoys,” Alaska Public Media, August 31, 2017, https://www.alaskapublic.org/2017/08/31/tillerson-proposes-scrappingarctic-and-climate-envoys/. 2 NSDM-144 states that the U.S. will “…support the sound and rational development of the Arctic, guided by the principle of minimizing any adverse effects to the environment; promote mutually beneficial international cooperation in the Arctic; and… provide for the protection of essential security interests in the Arctic, including preservation of the principle of freedom of the seas and superjacent airspace.” “National Security Decision Memorandum 144,” National Security Council, December 22, 1971, 1. 3 National Security Decision Directive 90, “United States Arctic Policy, April 14, 1983, 1–2; United States Arctic Research and Policy Act (ARPA) of 1984 (Title I of P.L. 98-373).


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between 2007 and 2018, which included 378 bills, 52 resolutions, 13 amendments, 12 concurrent resolutions, and 4 joint resolutions. The archival search also generated 1382 congressional records, 287 committee reports, 1 treaty document, 9 House communications, and 15 Senate communications that included the keyword Arctic during the same time frame.4 In framing our chapter through a widened security perspective, we have identified seven broad themes that emerged in our database of the 459 bills. Six pertain to the Arctic: (1) wilderness; (2) oceans; (3) climate change; (4) security; (5) energy; and (6) policy. Despite the seemingly large number of bills proposed, our assessment indicates that a significant portion of bills in no way dealt with Arctic security; rather, the term was included in the proposal, but had little relevance or applicability to the Arctic region. We therefore added a seventh category to classify non-Arctic bills.5 The inclusion of a non-Arctic category in this research is illustrative of the lack of strategic focus that has affected the United States in the last decade. While it is a significant finding that forty-six percent of all Arctic-keyworded bills since 1973 have been proposed between 2007 and 2018, a large portion of these bills are classified under “non-Arctic.”

Who in Congress Acts for America’s Arctic? The United States solidified its status as an Arctic nation in the nineteenth century after it purchased the territory of Alaska from the Russian Empire. Since Alaska’s incorporation on October 18, 1867, succeeding U.S. presidential administrations and Congress have proposed and enacted legislation pertaining to the Arctic region.6 Contemporary U.S. Arctic policy can be traced through four presidential administrations, beginning with the Nixon administration in the 1970s.7 President Richard Nixon issued “National Security Decision Memorandum 144” (NSDM-144) on December 22, 1971, which laid the framework for at least three interests in the region: 4 Legislative

search containing the word Arctic, Library of Congress 2007–2018 (Congress.gov, https://www.congress.gov/search?searchResultViewType=expanded&q=%7B%22source%22% 3A%22legislation%22%2C%22search%22%3A%22arctic%22%7D). 5 In our assessment to determine the threshold for Arctic versus non-Arctic bills, we found three broad themes: legislation dedicated entirely to Arctic issues; legislation that had some implications for the Arctic but also largely addressed non-Arctic issues; and legislation that nominally mentions the Arctic. 6 The U.S. was largely an isolationist nation in the late nineteenth century, and the purchase signified the geopolitical importance of Alaska as a way to counterbalance both the Russian Empire and Great Britain in North America. Yet the expansion into Alaska was not meant as an instrument of democracy promotion; rather, it reflected a strategy to curb Russian expansion as a means to preserve American “…sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of external military threats.” Office of the Historian, “Purchase of Alaska, 1867,” United States Department of State, https:// history.state.gov/milestones/1866-1898/alaska-purchase; Caswell (1951: 220), Nordlinger (1995: 10). 7 The Library of Congress’ online archives include all Congressional legislation since the 93rd Congress beginning in 1973.

No UNCLOS, No Icebreakers, No Clue? …


environmental domain awareness, international cooperation, and national security in the maritime and air domains.8 Since then, several presidents have issued further federal and strategic guidance toward the Arctic region. President Ronald Reagan, for example, issued “National Security Decision Directive 90” (NSDD-90) in 1983, which encouraged Congress to propose legislation on the U.S.’ Arctic interests. The law, known as the “Arctic Research and Policy Act of 1984” is significant for two reasons: first, it defined the U.S. Arctic region in its own interests. While the Arctic region has traditionally been defined as “…the land and sea area north of the Arctic Circle (a circle of latitude at about 66.34° North),” the U.S. Arctic Research & Policy Act broadened the geographic scope—visible in Fig. 2—to include “all United States and foreign territory north of the Arctic Circle and all United States territory north and west of the boundary formed by the Porcupine, Yukon, and Kuskokwim Rivers [in Alaska]; all contiguous seas, including the Arctic Ocean and the Beaufort, Bering, and Chukchi Seas; and the Aleutian chain” (Title I of P.L. 98-373). Second,

Fig. 2 Arctic boundary as defined by the Arctic Research and Policy Act 8 NSDM-144

states that the U.S. will “…support the sound and rational development of the Arctic, guided by the principle of minimizing any adverse effects to the environment; promote mutually beneficial international cooperation in the Arctic; and… provide for the protection of essential security interests in the Arctic, including preservation of the principle of freedom of the seas and superjacent airspace.” “National Security Decision Memorandum 144,” National Security Council, December 22, 1971, 1.


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the Arctic Research & Policy Act of 1984 articulated 17 national interests that would be advanced through the establishment of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission (USARC) and the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC) (Title I of P.L. 98-373). President George W. Bush was the last to issue a national security directive pertaining to the Arctic: one week before his term ended, he issued “National Security Presidential Directive 66 (NSPD-66)/Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD-25),” which remains in effect today. President Bush greater contextualized the security interests of the U.S. to include missile defense, maritime security, and freedom of navigation; preventing terrorism; national presence and power projection; sovereignty; and freedom of the seas (Office of the Press Secretary 2009). Neither Presidents Obama nor Trump have issued updated national security directives on the Arctic, and have therefore continued to follow the provisions in NSPD-66/HSPD-25. To understand how the U.S. legislates on Arctic security issues, it is first vital to contextualize the aforementioned 459 bills by examining who leads such action on Arctic affairs. As the United States is an Arctic nation by virtue of Alaska, it comes as no surprise that some of the greatest advocates for Arctic interests are Alaskan politicians. Current and former Senators Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan, Mark Begich, and the late Ted Stevens, as well as Representative Don Young, have been the forerunners of defining the U.S.’ Arctic interests and vocal proponents of legislation for the state of Alaska and the greater Arctic region. Political officials across the United States, however, have also articulated their states’ connections to the Arctic at the domestic and international levels, as indicated in Tables 1 and 2. In addition to the political representatives of Alaska, political representatives in California and Washington have been strong sponsors and supporters of Arcticrelated legislation and initiatives. There are two political bodies whose missions seek to advance American interests in the Arctic. Representatives Rick Larsen (D-WA) and Don Young (R-AK) established the Congressional Arctic Working Group (CAWG) in 2014 (Congressional Arctic Working Group 2014). The group’s mission states that it “…seeks to help members of Congress better understand the opportunities and challenges for the U.S. as an Arctic nation and acts as a resource for other Arctic Table 1 Top 5 Congressional Sponsors of legislation with the Keyword Arctic

Congressional Arctic Advocates 2008–2018 Top house bill sponsors Don Young (R-AK)

Top senate bill sponsors 33

Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)


Jared Huffman (D-CA)


Mark Begich (D-AK)


Duncan D. Hunter (R-CA)


Maria Cantwell (D-WA)


Edward J. Markey (D-MA)


Christopher A. Coons (D-DE)


Bill Shuster (R-PA)


Carl Levin (D-MI)


No UNCLOS, No Icebreakers, No Clue? … Table 2 Top 5 congressional co-sponsors of legislation with the keyword Arctic


Congressional Arctic Advocates 2008–2018 Top house bill co-sponsors

Top senate bill co-sponsors

Barbara Lee (D-CA)


Maria Cantwell (D-WA)


Don Young (R-AK)


Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)


Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ)


Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD)


Betty McCollum (D-MN)


Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)


Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA)


Dan Sullivan (R-AK)


countries to interact with Congress. The Working Group brings people together from across many stakeholder communities to advise Congress about the way forward on Arctic policy and establish a strong presence in the region” (House of Representatives 2014). Although CAWG has its own page on Representative Larsen’s website, its last update was a national security briefing on October 18, 2016. It is unknown whether the twenty-one Representatives listed are still current, whether there has been a change in membership, and whether any activities have since been initiated under the premise of CAWG. While the Arctic group for the House of Representatives has a website, there is no publicly accessible website devoted to the Senate Arctic Caucus, which was founded by Senators Lisa Murkowski and Angus King in 2015. The Caucus’ mission is to “…convene conversations among Members on issues relating to defense, science, energy, environment, commerce, trade, maritime affairs, the well-being of indigenous peoples of the Arctic, to raise awareness about the importance of the Arctic, and to advance a coordinated effort toward investment in infrastructure that will benefit all Americans, including those who live in the Arctic” (U.S. Senate 2025). Senator Murkowski hosted a congressional trip to the Arctic in May 2019, although it is uncertain whether the trip was a specific initiative of the Senate Arctic Caucus. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), John Barrasso (R-WY), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) travelled to Canada, Greenland, Norway (including Svalbard and Tromsø), Scotland, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland (Murkowski 2019).

Which Arctic Security Issues Are Addressed in Congressional Action? In legislating on issues of Arctic security, Arctic actors detailed above and listed in Tables 1 and 2 in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have focused in particular on five key issues: energy security; UNCLOS; U.S. leadership in the Arctic; climate security; and ice breakers.


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Arctic Energy Security The debate on whether to advance or limit energy development in the American Arctic and subarctic is quantitatively the most legislated Arctic security issue. In the midst of a global oil crisis, on November 25, 1973 President Richard Nixon repositioned U.S. energy development as a concern of national security. No longer was the future of Alaskan energy framed primarily as an economic or environmental issue; the development of circumpolar oil and gas was a patriotic pathway to energy independence, a path that allowed the U.S. to divorce itself from affairs in the Middle East. From 2007 to 2018, Congress legislated 306 bills, resolutions, and laws pertaining, in part or fully, to Arctic energy, 243 of which were framed as an issue of national security. Within the landscape of congressional action in Arctic energy security, materials pertaining to the allowance or prohibition of leasing land to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in northern Alaska stands out. More than half of all legislative materials analyzed in this chapter, 161, reference ANWR, with 135 of them specifically framing ANWR as a security issue. Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) faced an impasse in January 1996 after many months of advocating to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling. Senator Stevens relented, however, after realizing that the Senate would likely not provide the sixty necessary votes to insert a pro-drilling measure into a seven-year budget blueprint (ANWR.org 2019). President Bill Clinton had already vetoed one budget proposal, in part because of the provision to allow drilling in the Refuge. The mid-1990s was a time of national debate for Alaska’s future, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was at its epicenter. One side, epitomized by the President’s veto, highlighted ANWR’s importance as a wildlife preserve, a space for megafauna to run, calve, and exist beyond the reaches of humanity in America’s last untouched, wild frontier. The other, championed by Senator Stevens and his Republican peers, presented ANWR as an oil reserve, a place made significant by its economic potential and positioning in America’s desire for energy security. In 1996, the former narrative had the support of the American media, public, and their lawmakers, but hope for future development of ANWR was not lost: “Remember we got the pipeline by just one vote. All our votes are very narrow,” Senator Stevens said to an Associated Press reporter. “It would probably take a change in administration” (ANWR.org 2019). That change in administration came in 2001 with Republican President George W. Bush. With hope renewed, in 2002 Senator Frank H. Murkowski (R-AK), a good friend and mentee of Senator Stevens, once again pushed for drilling in the furthest corner of America. As a ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Senator Murkowski, along with his fellow representatives Senator John Breaux (D-LA) and Senator Stevens put forth the Arctic National Wildlife Amendment to the Senate Energy Bill [S.AMDT.3132]. Congress, and by extension the press and public, deliberated for months on the benefits and challenges of drilling in ANWR. After two hours of Senate proceedings, American lawmakers ultimately rejected the opening of the refuge on April 18, 2002. In a White House

No UNCLOS, No Icebreakers, No Clue? …


statement on the decision, President Bush’s spokesman Ari Fleischer said, “The Senate today missed an opportunity to lead America to greater energy independence. The president will continue to fight for the tens of thousands of jobs that are created by opening ANWR, as well as, more importantly, for the need for America to be able to achieve more energy independence that would result from opening ANWR.” (Citation needed) There were no attempts to open ANWR during the Obama administration that reached close to achieving the sought-after drilling in the Coastal Plain. Nonetheless, fifteen years later, on a Wednesday morning in late December of 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives convened in their chambers to pass the most sweeping tax overhaul in decades. In a 224 to 201 vote, lawmakers re-ordered the economic framework upon which the American nation-state is built. Wedged in between corporate tax cuts and health insurance clauses, the resulting bill opened the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil and gas drilling. Just before the tax overhaul was sent to his desk to be signed into law, President Trump invited Republican representatives to the White House Rose Garden to celebrate the achievement. After the president finished his remarks, Senator Murkowski of Alaska took the presidential podium to turn attention to the opening of ANWR: This is a very historic day of course – but it’s also the beginning of winter solstice. Now it doesn’t feel like it right now, but the winter solstice is the shortest day – the darkest day. And for us, in Alaska, we have had some pretty dark days recently. But, with passage of this tax bill, with passage finally, almost 40 years later, to allow us to open up the 1002 area – this is a bright day for Alaska. This is a bright day for America (White House 2017).

UNCLOS The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is an international treaty that defines and regulates maritime activities on the world’s oceans. The United States was an active participant in the conventions that helped establish UNCLOS between 1960 and 1994. Since the Reagan administration, however, Congress has refused to ratify the treaty on the grounds that the clause regarding deep-sea mining rights would cede American sovereignty in the face of international law (Tomlinson and Becker 2008). Support for UNCLOS has since increased in the past few decades, stemming from a fundamental recognition that the melting of perennial sea ice in the Arctic has geopolitical implications for national security and commerce. The U.S. also currently treats UNCLOS as customary law, adhering to the treaty without acceding to it. Numerous political figures and institutions have called for formal ratification of the treaty,9 yet steadfast opposition to UNCLOS persists among a small, yet vocal group of conservative figures in Congress. 9 In her confirmation hearing for Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton acknowledged UNCLOS’ as both

an asset for Alaskans and a diplomatic instrument to strengthen the US’ relationship with Russia. Numerous Defense Department officials and top-ranking military officers also support American accession to UNCLOS, including then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, then-Chairman of the


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Among the most vocal opponents of UNCLOS are Senators James Inhofe (ROK), Jim Rische (R-ID), and Jim DeMint (R-SC) who have consistently argued that the treaty’s provisions harm U.S. national interests and security (Rogin 2010; Wright 2012). In his 2013 study of congressional opponents to treaty ratification, Patrick J. Bonner identifies at least thirty politicians whose opposition has stalled momentum, noting several similar traits among the group (Bonner 2013). The senators were “…much newer to the Senate and more likely to come from smaller towns. Those who opposed were also less likely to be from coastal areas than the Senate as a whole,” and largely dismissed the testimony of flag officers who supported the U.S.’ accession (Bonner 2013). As of 2019 and the conclusion of the 115th Congress, the U.S. still has not made any progress toward treaty ratification. The most recent attempts to bring the issue to the floor were sponsored by Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) and Representative Joe Courtney (D-CT-2), who introduced Senate Resolution S.Res.598 and House Resolution H.Res.339 respectively to call upon the Senate to consent to the treaty. Senator Lisa Murkowski and Representatives Don Young (R-AK-At Large), Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-GU-At Large), Susan A. Davis (D-CA-53), Rick Larsen (D-WA-2), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ-7), Adam Smith (D-WA-9), John Garamendi (D-CA-3), and James R. Langevin (D-RI-2) all served as co-sponsors (S.Res.598 and H.Res.339).

Icebreaking Vessels The United States Coast Guard has operated icebreaking vessels since the 1940s. Former Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert J. Papp stated in a 2013 interview that the Coast Guard had essentially taken over “the lead” in the U.S.’ so-called backyard. Admiral Papp noted that icebreakers are not merely to break ice but they are also used as instruments to enforce sovereignty. He therefore advised that a commitment to icebreakers would send a strategic message to other countries that the United States is serious about its position as an Arctic power (Freedberg 2013). The USCG Healy, a diesel-powered medium icebreaker, and USCG Polar Star, a combined diesel-powered or electric heavy icebreaker (CODLOG), are meant to simultaneously exercise sovereignty, enforce the law, perform search and rescue, conduct scientific research, accommodate helicopter assets, and add personnel to increase physical presence.10

Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, and former Chief Oceanographer of the Navy Admiral David Titley. United States Senate, “Transcript of Hillary Clinton’s Confirmation Hearing,” January 13, 2009; Department of Defense, “Law of the Sea Convention,” http://archive.defense.gov/ home/features/2012/0612_lawofsea/; Jim Garamone, “Dempsey Urges Ratification of the Law of the Sea Convention,” Armed Forces Press Service, May 9, 2012, http://archive.defense.gov/news/ newsarticle.aspx?id=116265; Rear Admiral Titley and St. John (2010: 40). 10 The USCGC Polar Sea is a heavy CODLOG icebreaker that was decommissioned in 2010 to due consistent engine failure. See Freedberg (2016).

No UNCLOS, No Icebreakers, No Clue? …


Yet for the dual-use benefit of Coast Guard icebreakers, serious issues persist: as the nation’s only military branch that regularly operates on the surface in the Arctic, it does so with two aging icebreakers while a third was decommissioned in 2010. Reports in the last decade have warned of the lifespan of these assets, which are still operational ten years after their thirty-year lifespan, and news articles often detail the struggles crews face in maintaining them (Woody 2018, 2019; Read 2019). These issues are emblematic of the U.S.’ larger struggle to engage strategically and operationally in the Arctic: in spite of U.S. national interests in the Arctic, it cannot fully exercise them. Icebreaker construction has been mired in funding struggles since 2013 (Alexander 2013; Song 2013; Shalal and Rascoe 2014; O’Rourke 2015). Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray—whose state of Washington is home to the icebreaker fleet—as well as Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich, sought to fill the icebreaking capabilities gap by adding the construction of four icebreakers to the 2014 Defense Appropriations Act. However, the $3.4 billion project (each vessel was estimated to cost $850 million) was met with skepticism, as funding for Arctic-related activities was seen as less integral to U.S. interests than funding for military equipment used in other areas of the world. After years of budget reductions and legislative stagnation in Congress, the Coast Guard renamed its icebreaker construction program to “Polar Security Cutter” in 2018. In a U.S. Naval Institute article, Coast Guard Admiral Melvin Bouboulis said “We understand that some folks think [that] just it goes and breaks ice, but we’ve purposely changed the name of that program to Polar Security Cutter because it is really [about] the U.S.’ presence in the Arctic regions and preserving our national interest and security in those areas” (Werner and LaGrone 2018). While our article— written in 2019—excludes the present year, it should be noted that Congress passed a bill which was signed by President Trump that provided $655 million for a new Polar Security Cutter with an additional $20 million for the construction of a second (Sisk 2019).

U.S. Leadership in the Arctic There is no formal leadership position currently in existence within the U.S. federal government whose sole responsibility is to articulate and advance U.S. national interests in the Arctic. There are and were, however, several officials who served formally and informally in high-ranking capacities to this end. For example, the U.S. Arctic Research Commission is an independent federal agency that was established in accordance with the Arctic Research and Policy Act of 1984. USARC is led by an Executive Director, and the agency advises “the President and Congress on domestic and international Arctic research through recommendations and reports” (U.S. Arctic Research Commission). The State Department has also appointed its employees in Arctic-specific policy roles, such as the Senior Arctic Official to the Arctic Council, although no successor has been nominated after the


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most recent Senior Arctic Official retired in 2019.11 The State Department also created a U.S. Special Representative to the Arctic in 2014 which was first led by Admiral Papp (Department of State 2014; Alaska Dispatch News 2017). Concurrently, Fran Ulmer, who served as Chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission in 2014, was also named as a special advisor to then-Secretary of State John Kerry to advise on Arctic issues, although it was not a full-time job (Alaska Journal 2014). However, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ultimately abolished the position in 2017, in accordance with President Trump’s plan to reduce the size of the federal government (Labot et al. 2017). A small delegation of congressional leaders, however, have sought to introduce legislation that would appoint a U.S. Ambassador at Large to the Arctic region. The responsibilities of the proposed U.S. Ambassador at Large to the Arctic include acting as the principal advisor to the President and Secretary of State by assessing Arctic issues and recommending suitable policies for the Arctic. The ambassador would also be the principal representative in international and multilateral fora (U.S. House of Representatives 2017). In our time frame, legislation to create an Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs has been introduced six times in the 111th, 112th, 113th, 115th, and 117th sessions of Congress. Former Senator Mark Begich and current Representative James F. Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-WI-5) have each sponsored three bills, although they failed to gain momentum in both the House and the Senate.12

Climate Security Climate change is temporally the youngest dimension of Arctic legislation introduced by the U.S. Congress. First appearing in the 1978–1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of the 96th Congress13 , Arctic climate change security did not break more than twenty legislative document mentions until the 110th Congress. In total, 141 legislative documents were coded as Arctic climate change security in our analysis from 2008 to 2019, 19 of which became law. The majority of these bills, 11 “United States of America,” Arctic Council, https://arctic-council.org/index.php/en/about-us/ member-states/united-states-of-america. Julie Gourley served as the most recent Senior Arctic Official. The position is currently held by Interim Senior Arctic Official Meredith Rubin. 12 The following bills were introduced between 2008 to 2018 for a U.S. Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs: H.R.1593 (111th), S.1229 (112th), H.R.4538 (113th), S.270 (113th), H.R.1593 (114th), and H.R.1559 (115th). Senator Begich and Representative Sensenbrenner’s bills were cosponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Representatives Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA11), Matt Salmon (R-AZ-5), Betty McCollum (D-MN-4), Don Young (R-AK-At Large), Rick Larsen (D-WA-2), Chellie Pingree (D-ME-1), John Garamendi (D-CA-3), and Elise M. Stefanik (R-NY21). “Arctic Legislation,” Congress.gov, https://www.congress.gov/search?searchResultViewType= expanded&pageSort=relevancy&q=%7B"congress"%3A%5B"115"%2C"114"%2C"113"% 2C"112"%2C"111"%2C"110"%5D%2C"source"%3A"legislation"%2C"search"%3A"arctic"% 2C"subject"%3A"International+Affairs"%7D. 13 “H.R.39—Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act96th Congress (1979-1980)” https:// www.congress.gov/bill/96th-congress/house-bill/39

No UNCLOS, No Icebreakers, No Clue? …


reports, and laws only mention the Arctic in passing, identifying it as an impacted region of global climate change but not directly engaging in actions, investments, or investigations to occur in the high north. In 2017 during the 115th Congress, Representative Bera Ami (D-CA-7) introduced the “Protect United States Security in the Arctic Act of 2017” [H.R.3247], which requests the President to submit to Congress a strategy to protect U.S. interests in the Arctic, including goals to “sustain robust research funding to understand the ongoing climate changes in the Arctic region and their global impact.” Other bills like the—“Arctic Oil Spill Research and Prevention Act” [S.1564] of 2009, introduced by Senator Begich and the—“Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment Implementation Act” [H.R.5770] of 2010, reference climate change as a secondary security issue to energy and maritime security. While climate change security accounts for a small percentage of security proceedings before the U.S. Congress, the bills that have been introduced continue to number more than twenty per year since 2008. This is likely due to the consequences of global climate change becoming more frequent and intense in the Arctic. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Arctic Report Card of 2018, the impacts of climate change are already forcing the circumpolar region to undergo an “unprecedented transition” in human history. As Arctic air and sea temperatures warm at more than twice the rate of the global average, the Arctic Ocean has lost ninety-five percent of its oldest documented sea ice. Following the 2018 UN Special Report Global Warming of 1.5 °C and the 4th U.S. National Climate Assessment, the Arctic Report Card was only the latest installment in a protracted series of disquieting findings that the Arctic has entered a new, more dangerous normal (IPCC 2018; U.S. Global Change Research Program 2018).

Conclusion: A Way Forward for Arctic America U.S. Arctic action in Congress can be categorized into three, overlapping categories: (1) action driven by external forcers; (2) action driver by internal opportunities; and (3) action driven by consistent interest. In this article, external forcers are events, national or global in nature, that push the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate to reactively legislate on Arctic security affairs. An internal opportunity is defined as a change or shift in the political landscape of federal decision-making whereby an opportunity arises to push for specific legislation. The first spike in data from the 100th (1987–1988) to the 101st (1989–1990) Congress indicated in Fig. 1—from 24 Arctic bills to 60 bills—illustrates two examples of these drivers. On March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez, an oil tanker owned by the Exxon Shipping Company, struck Prince William Sound’s Bligh Reef in Alaska. The nearly 11 million gallons of crude oil that spilled into the sound made it the worst oil spill in history at that point in time, and forced Congress to legislate on the Exxon Valdez spill and its consequences. 12 pieces of legislation were considered in the 101st Congress on impacts related to the spill, including the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 [H.R.1465], a major environmental law that transformed the methods in which oil was produced and ultimately


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distributed. While the Alaska-based oil spill forced Congress to reactively legislate on Arctic maritime security, the swearing in of President George H. W. Bush on January 20, 1989 provided a shift in the political landscape of fossil fuel development. The administration change created an opportunity to push new legislation to open America’s northernmost oil and gas fields, particularly in the Arctic Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), as seen in seven bills and one amendment relating to ANWR. The framing of these two drivers as reactionary—both in reacting to events and in reacting to political opportunities—is critical in evaluating domestic decisionmaking in U.S. Arctic security. The reflexive nature of most U.S. legislation regarding Arctic affairs is perhaps the country’s largest obstacle to the formation of a comprehensive strategy for the region. In our discourse analysis of 2007 to2018 Arctic legislative materials, it appears at first glance that the U.S. Congress proposes a significant number of legislative documents concerning Arctic security. 459 bills, resolutions, and laws were introduced from 2007 to 2019 over the course of President Obama and President Trump’s tenures in office. Nonetheless, when unpacked through a thematic discourse analysis, the data reveals that the United States has continued to embrace its moniker as a reluctant Arctic nation regardless of the executive branch’s agenda. Rather than a constant commitment to securing the American Arctic, congressional action is most often conducted in response to non-Arctic events. The vast majority of Arctic bills that become law are tied to nationwide military and economic stimulus budget appropriate rather than specific legislation for the Arctic region and the unique, comprehensive security challenges the circumpolar north faces. The analysis detailed in this chapter has identified three key next steps for the U.S. Congress to pursue in order to legislate and lead on Arctic security in a consistent, proactive, and effective manner. First, a greater emphasis must be placed in connecting Arctic security issues to national security concerns, so that senators and representatives from every state feel ownership and the importance of Arctic-specific action. By function of the American government system, Alaska is limited to two senators and one representative, therefore limiting the political power of those representing the only Arctic state in the union. U.S. national security action in the Arctic would be better served by having more than a handful of Arctic champions by fostering ownership and bolstering the buy-in of non-Arctic state representatives to Arctic investment, legislation, and leadership. This could be pursued by supporting more briefings, committee hearings, and congressional field trips to promote the U.S. as an Arctic nation. It is also critical for Congress to be transparent in their Arctic activities. The Senate Arctic Caucus and Congressional Arctic Working Group are opaque in their online presence, and do not have easy access points of entry to learning more about their work and engaging with either group. Second, the U.S. federal government must fund significantly more in Arctic infrastructure, both human and built systems, than it currently does. While Congress has allocated funding for a new polar class icebreaker, current Coast Guard funding is not adequate to fully support their increasing responsibilities in the Arctic and Antarctic in addition to the mission sets it has around the world. As waters warm, activity

No UNCLOS, No Icebreakers, No Clue? …


will increase in the American Arctic, and the Coast Guard will require additional funding and technical assistance to enhance the U.S.’s cold-weather capabilities, search and rescue competency, and emergency response effectiveness if a natural or manmade disaster occurs. This increase in Arctic infrastructure extends to funding a civilian-Coast Guard communication network. Arctic coastal residents are the first responders to any maritime security threat. Disaster response and search and rescue capabilities are only as strong as the communication channels, technical commitments, and infrastructure investments to support collaboration with community first responders on our nation’s Arctic coastline. A better integration and enhancement of community-based observing networks through the Arctic Domain Awareness Center—a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence—offers one opportunity to address this issue if it is done in an inclusive way that empowers local leaders in up-front decision-making. Third, the de facto Arctic Ambassador position, the U.S. Special Representative for the Arctic first filled by Admiral Papp, must be reinstated by Congress to support American leadership in the high north. Unlike Admiral Papp’s former symbolic position, the new Special Representative for the Arctic must be endowed with agency, funding, and ownership over Arctic-related decisions. Empowering an Alaska Native leader to nationally guide decision-making in the Arctic would support proactive policies on geopolitical, climate, and economic issues rather than reactionary resolutions. The regional agenda of the Special Representative should be aligned with investments made at the national level to increase a sense of ownership of Arctic security action amongst all fifty states as opposed to Alaska alone. The Climate Security Act of 2019, introduced by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and co-sponsored by ten other Democrats in mid-March, already proposed such a reinstatement (Senate 2019). The proposed Special Representative offers an opportunity to designate a dedicated conduit through which to channel the expertise and influence of other Arctic political entities committed to the growing security, environmental, and maritime challenges in the region, like the Senate Arctic Caucus. The U.S. Legislative Branch has the potential to act courageously and cooperatively across the Arctic by taking advantage of the low-hanging security opportunities presented here. It is now up to Congress to adopt these measures and push America further into its still unrealized Arctic leadership position. However, if it chooses to continue the path of Arctic reluctance, then every American will face the consequences of the impending Arctic thaw.

References Alexander, R. (2013). USCG Arctic strategy requires more ice breakers. Alaska Public Media. https://www.alaskapublic.org/2013/08/16/uscg-arctic-strategy-requires-more-ice-breakers/. Adm. Robert Papp steps down as top Arctic diplomat. Anchorage Daily News. https://www.adn. com/arctic/2017/01/25/admiral-papp-steps-down-as-top-arctic-diplomat/. Arctic Power. (2014). Political history of the Arctic refuge. www.anwr.org. http://anwr.org/2014/ 11/political-history-of-the-arctic-refuge/. Accessed November 23, 2014.


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Bonner, P. J. (2013). Neo-isolationists scuttle UNCLOS. SAIS Review of International Affairs, 33(2) (Summer-Fall 2013), 136–144. Caswell, J. E. (1951). Materials for the history of Arctic America. Pacific Historical Review, 20(3), 220. Coast Guard Polar Security Cutter (Polar Icebreaker) Program: Background and issues for congress. Congressional Research Service, updated May 9, 2019, 1, 10, 23. Coast Guard Polar Security Cutter (Polar Icebreaker) Program: Background and Issues for Congress. Congressional Research Service, updated September 11, 2019, 1, 10, 24–26. Congressional Arctic Working Group. (2014). https://congressionalarcticworkinggroup-larsen. house.gov/. Congressional record—Senate. March 4, 2015, S1289. Freedberg, S. J., Jr. (2013). Coast Guard to Navy: Arctic’s covered; White House Oks Arctic Icebreaker. Breaking defense. http://breakingdefense.com/2013/05/coast-guard-to-navy-weve-gotarctic-covered-sort-of-white-house-oks-arctic-icebreaker-studies/. Freedberg, S. J., Jr. (2016). Coast guard acts on icebreakers; releases requirements. Breaking Defense. http://breakingdefense.com/2016/01/coast-guard-moves-on-icebreakers-releasesrequirements/. H.Res.339—Calling upon the United States senate to give its advice and consent to the ratification of the United Nations convention on the law of the sea. Congress.gov. https://www.congress. gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-resolution/598, https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/ house-resolution/339. Inhofe and DeMint: U.N. treaties mean LOST U.S. sovereignty. The Washington Times. https://www. washingtontimes.com/news/2012/jul/25/un-treaties-would-separate-americans-from-the-cons/. IPCC. (2018). V. Masson-Delmotte, P. Zhai, H.-O. Pörtner, D. Roberts, J. Skea, P. R. Shukla, A. Pirani, W. Moufouma-Okia, C. Péan, R. Pidcock, S. Connors, J. B. R. Matthews, Y. Chen, X. Zhou, M. I. Gomis, E. Lonnoy, T. Maycock, M. Tignor, & T. Waterfield (Eds.), Global warming of 1.5 °C. An IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty (in press). King, Murkowski announce U.S. Senate Arctic Caucus. Angus King. https://www.king.senate.gov/ newsroom/press-releases/king-murkowski-announce-us-senate-arctic-caucus. Labot, E., Gaouette, N., & Herb, J. (2017). First on CNN: Tillerson moves to ditch special envoys. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2017/08/28/politics/tillerson-state-dept-envoys/index.html. Murkowski leads congressional delegation Arctic-focused trip. U.S. Senator for Alaska Lisa Murkowski. https://www.murkowski.senate.gov/press/release/05/31/2019/murkowski-leadscongressional-delegation-arctic-focused-trip. Nordlinger, E. (1995). Isolationism reconfigured: American foreign policy for a new century (p. 10). Princeton: Princeton University Press. Office of the Historian. (2019). Purchase of Alaska, 1867. United States Department of State. https:// history.state.gov/milestones/1866-1898/alaska-purchase. Office of the Press Secretary. (2009). National Security Presidential Directive/NSPD—66, Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD—25. The White House, 2–3. Office of the Press Secretary. (2016). FACT SHEET: United States hosts first-ever Arctic Science Ministerial to advance international research efforts. The White House. https:// obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2016/09/28/fact-sheet-united-states-hosts-firstever-arctic-science-ministerial. Office of the White House. (2016). President Obama: The United States formally enters the Paris agreement. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2016/09/03/president-obamaunited-states-formally-enters-paris-agreement.

No UNCLOS, No Icebreakers, No Clue? …


Office of United States Senator for Alaska Lisa Murkowski. (2015). Senators Murkowski, King Announce U.S. Senate Arctic Caucus Senator on Senate Floor: “We Have the Chance to Write History.” https://www.murkowski.senate.gov/press/release/senators-murkowski-king-announceus-senate-arctic-caucus. O’Rourke, R. (2015). Coast Guard polar icebreaker modernization: background and issues for congress. Congressional Research Service, 27–33. President of the United States. (2015). National strategy for the Arctic region (pp. 1–11). Washington, DC: The White House. President Obama’s trip to Alaska. https://obamawhitehouse.archives. gov/2015-alaska-trip. Read, R. (2019). Meet the neglected 43-year-old, Seattle-based stepchild of the U.S. military industrial complex. The Seattle Times. https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/meet-theneglected-43-year-old-stepchild-of-the-us-military-industrial-complex/. Republicans criticize military brass for supporting law of the sea treaty. Think Progress. https:// thinkprogress.org/republicans-criticize-military-brass-for-supporting-law-of-the-sea-treaty5afa223934f/. Retired Admiral Robert Papp to serve as U.S. Special Representative for the Arctic. Department of State (2009–2017 archives). https://2009-2017.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2014/07/229317. htm. Rogin, J. (2010). Who’s in charge of Arctic policy? Foreign Policy. https://foreignpolicy.com/2010/ 05/07/whos-in-charge-of-arctic-policy/. S.1563—United States Ambassador at large for Arctic affairs act of 2009. Congress.gov. https:// www.congress.gov/bill/111th-congress/senate-bill/1563/; H.R.1559—United States Ambassador at large for Arctic affairs act of 2017. Congress.gov. https://www.congress.gov/bill/115thcongress/house-bill/1559/. S.Res.598—A resolution calling upon the United States Senate to give its advice and consent to the ratification of the United Nations convention on the law of the sea. Senators Murkowski, King Announce U.S. Senate Arctic Caucus. United States Senator for Alaska Lisa Murkowski. https://www.murkowski.senate.gov/press/release/senators-murkowskiking-announce-us-senate-arctic-caucus. Shalal, A., & Rascoe, A. U.S. needs to invest in Arctic ships. technology to prepare for climate change. Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/u-s-needs-to-invest-inarctic-ships-technology-to-prepare-for-climate-change/. Sisk, R. (2019). Congress finally funds new Icebreaker for Coast Guard. Military.com. https://www. military.com/dodbuzz/2019/02/20/congress-finally-funds-new-icebreaker-coast-guard.html. Song, K. M. (2013). Washington, Alaska senators pave way for 4 new icebreakers. The Seattle Times. https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/washington-alaska-senators-pave-way-for4-new-icebreakers/. The United States as an Arctic Nation: Opportunities in the High North. Hearing before the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats of the Committee on Foreign Affairs—House of Representatives; 113th Congress (2nd Session) Serial No. 113–225. https://www.govinfo.gov/ content/pkg/CHRG-113hhrg91844/html/CHRG-113hhrg91844.htm. Titley, D., & St. John, C. (2010). Arctic security considerations and the U.S. Navy’s roadmap for the Arctic. Naval War College Review, 63(2), 40 Tomlinson, M., & Becker, M. (2008).International law of the sea. The International Lawyer, 42(2), 797. Ulmer named to advise Kerry on Arctic issues. Alaska Journal. https://www.alaskajournal.com/ business-and-finance/2014-07-16/ulmer-named-advise-kerry-arctic-issues. United Nations Climate Change. The Paris agreement. https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/theparis-agreement/the-paris-agreement. United Nations. (2015). Paris agreement. https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/english_paris_ agreement.pdf. United States Arctic Research and Policy Act (ARPA) of 1984 (Title I of P.L. 98–373). United States Arctic Research Commission. https://arctic.gov


V. Herrmann and L. Hussong

USGCRP. (2018). In D. R. Reidmiller, C. W. Avery, D. R. Easterling, K. E. Kunkel, K. L. M. Lewis, T. K. Maycock, & B. C. Stewart (Eds.), Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States: Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II: Report-in-brief (186 pp). Washington, DC, USA: U.S. Global Change Research Program. https://doi.org/10.7930/nca4.2018.rib. Werner, B., & LaGrone, S. (2018). Coast Guard renames new icebreaker program ‘Polar Security Cutter,’ USNI News. https://news.usni.org/2018/09/27/36846. White House. (2017). Remarks by President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Members of Congress at Bill Passage Event. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/ remarks-president-donald-trump-vice-president-mike-pence-members-congress-bill-passageevent/. Woody, C. (2018). Coast Guard passed on Arctic exercise amid fears its garbage icebreaker would require Russia’s help. Task & Purpose. https://taskandpurpose.com/coast-guard-polarstar-exercises-russia. Woody, C. (2019). A fire broke out aboard the US’s only heavy icebreaker in one of the most remote places on earth. Task & Purpose. https://taskandpurpose.com/coast-guard-polar-star-fire Wright, T. (2012). Outlaw the sea: The senate republicans’ UNCLOS blunder. Brookings Institution. https://www.brookings.edu/articles/outlaw-of-the-sea-the-senate-republicans-unclos-blunder/.

Victoria Herrmann is the Managing Director of The Arctic Institute and a Research Professor at Georgetown University, where she teaches environmental communication and leads the Migration In Harmony NSF Research Coordination Network. She was previously a Carnegie Endowment Junior Fellow, Fulbright awardee to Canada, Naonal Academies of Sciences Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellow, and Gates Scholar at the University of Cambridge, where she received her Ph.D. in Geography. Lillian Hussong is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Rutgers University of Division of Global Affairs, where she held the Simon Reich Fellowship for Research in Global Governance. Her dissertation focuses on American national security in the Arctic and Baltic regions. She is a Research Assistant at The Arctic Institute.

Arctic Geopolitics and Security from the Canadian Perspective Adam Lajeunesse

In October 2015, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party came to power in Canada, promising a decisive break from the policies and philosophy of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government—which had then been in power for 11 years. One of the policy shifts promised by the Liberal government was in its approach to Canada’s North. During the Harper era, Arctic policy was tied to the central questions of defending Arctic sovereignty and maintaining Canadian security in a region increasingly subject to international interest and—potentially—competition.1 Under Trudeau, Arctic policy came to focus instead on soft security, cooperation, environmental preservation, and strengthening relations with local indigenous peoples.2 On the surface this transition seemed to represent a significant shift. In reality the government’s core Arctic policy concerns remained consistent with those of past administrations and, while the rhetoric and focus of Liberal policy statements were certainly different, what Canada sought to achieve in the North remained largely unchanged in its essentials. Indeed, over the past fifty years at least, Arctic policy has been framed by the same core considerations: sovereignty, security, development, environmental preservation, and indigenous relations (Lackenbauer 2009). As an examination of Canada’s geopolitical position in the Arctic, this chapter focuses on two of these core policy issues: sovereignty and security. While these are no longer highlighted in federal policy to the same degree they once were, both remain essential considerations in Canada’s approach to the North and continue to shape the country’s activity in the region. The meaning of Arctic sovereignty and security has evolved over the past century, adapting to changes in international law, circumpolar relations, and military technology. At its heart, however, Canada’s 1 For

the best analysis of Arctic policy in the Harper era see: Lackenbauer and Dean (2016). (2019). See also: Lackenbauer (2017).

2 Canada,

A. Lajeunesse (B) St. Francis Xavier University, 4051 Mulroney Hall, 2333 Notre Dame Ave, Antigonish, NS B2G2W5, Canada e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 J. Weber (ed.), Handbook on Geopolitics and Security in the Arctic, Frontiers in International Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-45005-2_3



A. Lajeunesse

objective has always been to secure and maintain international recognition of its legal claim to the Arctic, to effectively control that region, to defend it from state and non-state threats moving into and through it, and to guarantee safety and security throughout its territory. In the twenty-first century, Arctic security is no longer synonymous with conventional military threats. The end of the Cold War brought a dramatic reduction in geopolitical tensions and the traditional focus on Russian military incursions—which had dominated security thinking from the 1950s to 1990—gave way to governments in Ottawa prioritizing emerging unconventional threats to regional safety and security.3 Canada’s military is now more consistently present in the Arctic and more capable in Northern operations than at any point since the late Cold War, but that presence is now geared towards the emerging challenges of a melting Arctic rather than intruding bombers or submarines. Canada is also more confident in its ability to control the Arctic waters as its growing presence in the region not only increases its security but provides a tangible expression of sovereignty. In spite of this growing capability, a disagreement continues to exist over the legal status of the Northwest Passage and, as such, Canada will remain cautious when managing foreign activity and continue to emphasize its control over those waters in both policy and practice. As climate change steadily erodes the Arctic sea ice there will be more and more activity moving into and through Canada’s northern waters. Questions of control, jurisdiction, and security will naturally remain important considerations. This chapter provides an overview of these core policy issues, how they have historically influenced Canadian behaviour in the North, and how they are likely to shape the state’s approach to the Arctic in the twenty-first century.

Canadian Arctic Sovereignty The question of sovereignty has long been a central issue in Canadian Arctic policy. In the twenty-first century this relates to the Northwest Passage and how those waters are defined. Canada defines the channels running through the Arctic Archipelago as historic, internal waters over which it enjoys the same sovereignty as it would over any other lake or internal body of water within the country. The extent of that maritime space is delineated by straight baselines, drawn on January 1, 1986 by the government of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, which officially enclosed the Arctic Archipelago as Canadian. The establishment of straight baselines represented the first official delineation and definition of Canada’s Arctic maritime sovereignty; however, this was not a claim to sovereignty per se. Since the Arctic waters have long been considered historic, the baselines only defined the waters over which Canada has long exercised sovereignty. According to the government of Canada, this sovereignty dates to the late nineteenth century and is supported by a long history of government 3 For

a more comprehensive analysis see: Lajeunesse and Lackenbauer (2016).

Arctic Geopolitics and Security from the Canadian Perspective


activity exercising authority over the region through the issuance of fishing licences, the regulation of foreign shipping, and the application of Canadian law. It is also buttressed by the presence and activity of the Inuit since time immemorial.4 This position is succinctly summed up in the federal government’s 2010 Statement on Canada’s Arctic Policy, which notes that Canadian “sovereignty is long-standing, well-established and based on historic title, founded in part on the presence of Inuit and other indigenous peoples since time immemorial (Canada 2010).” This position has been challenged by the United States and, increasingly, by European governments as well. The American position has remained constant since it was first clearly articulated in 1970.5 In Washington’s view, the Northwest Passage constitutes an international strait, which is a body of water passing through a state’s territorial sea which is commonly used for international navigation and which connects two parts of the high seas, or the high sea and a state’s territorial sea. Under existing conventional law, a right of transit passage exists through such straits and, should the Northwest Passage be defined as such, Canada’s ability to regulate shipping, enforce its laws, and institute certain pollution prevention measures would be restricted. According to US policy, Canada’s sovereignty extends only 12 nautical miles offshore, with certain regulatory powers relating to pollution control extending to the passage as a whole in accordance with the internationally recognized law of the sea.6 This view was clearly articulated in the federal Arctic policies of US Presidents George W. Bush (in 2009) and Barack Obama (in 2013) (The White House May 2013; The White House 9 January 2009). A common theme of all American Arctic policy has long been the rejection of Canadian sovereignty, with the Northwest Passage clearly defined as a strait open to international navigation. This disagreement dates to the early 1950s when American icebreakers first began to regularly operate in the Canadian North in pursuit of common continental defence objectives and has remained a consistent irritant since that time.7 For the most part, however, the issue was kept off the bilateral agenda through an informal agreementto-disagree. Since neither Canada nor the United States desired a conflict, the matter was intentionally ignored and questions of transit rights and permission were sidestepped whenever possible. The fact that there was relatively little non-Canadian maritime activity in the Arctic Archipelago made this arrangement practicable. Despite this long-standing (and fairly successful) effort to push sovereignty to the side in Canadian-American relations, the question has periodically emerged as an important issue in Arctic policy. For instance, serious sovereignty crises following the transit of American vessels through the Northwest Passage in 1969 and 1985. On both occasions the US government refused to request permission for transit 4 Statement

by Gaillard 2001

5 The catalyst was the voyage of the Manhattan through the Northwest Passage. For more see: Kirton

and Munton (1987). 6 This regulatory power is largely tied to Article 234 of the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea. For more see: McRae and Goundrey (1982). 7 For a complete history of the maritime dispute see: Lajeunesse (2016) and Elliot-Meisel (1998).


A. Lajeunesse

and the result was diplomatic confrontation requiring years of negotiations before compromise solutions were reached.8 In the twenty-first century the issue reemerged as a central consideration as climate change and the melting of the Arctic ice-cover seemed to portend the arrival of new foreign shipping and, potentially, the reemergence of this old dispute. As such, preparing to meet a future sovereignty crisis was an important part of the Harper government’s approach to the Arctic. On the campaign trail in 2005, the soon-to-be prime minister offered a muscular approach to defending the country’s position in the North: “The single most important duty of the federal government is to defend and protect our national sovereignty,” Harper asserted. “It’s time to act to defend Canadian sovereignty. A Conservative government will make the military investments needed to secure our borders. You don’t defend national sovereignty with flags, cheap election rhetoric, and advertising campaigns. You need forces on the ground, ships in the sea, and proper surveillance. And that will be the Conservative approach.”9 This aggressive approach won the support of many within Canada, with a major poll from 2011 suggesting that the majority of Canadians saw the Arctic as the country’s most important foreign policy priority (Ekos Reseach 2011). This concern for Arctic sovereignty is a long standing reality in Canadian consciousness and, while the issue has lost some of its prominence with the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, it can never be dismissed. So long as the status of Canada’s Arctic waters remains uncertain, sovereignty will remain a central component of any Canadian policy. In 2019 the continuing relevance of this dispute was put on display. That spring, American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo brought this issue back into the political conversation in an aggressive foreign policy speech to the Arctic Council. In his remarks, he focused on Russian and Chinese activity in the region but, more surprisingly, also made time to call out the Canadian position in the Northwest Passage, deriding Ottawa’s “illegitimate” sovereignty and reminding the audience that the US has a long standing “feud” with Canada over the issue, dating back decades (Blanchford 2019). While the United States remains the state most concerned with Canadian jurisdiction in the North, the issue has relevance beyond North America. The EU has also refused to accept Canada’s maritime boundaries. In 1985, after the Canadian declaration of straight baselines, the European Community issued a demarche, stating that it was “not satisfied that the present baselines are justified in general” and that the EU member states “reserve the exercise of their rights in the waters concerned according to international law.”10 In recent years, the European Union’s interest in Arctic shipping and resource extraction has led to a more explicit policy favouring navigational

8 On

the 1969 Manhattan incident see: Kirton and Munton (1987). On the 1985 Polar Sea incident see: Huebert (1993). 9 Stephen Harper, “Harper Stands Up for Arctic Sovereignty,” address in Ottawa, 22 December 2005, reproduced in Lackenbauer and Dean (2017). 10 British High Commission Note No. 90/86 of July 9, 1986, reported in American Embassy Paris telegram 33625, July 254, 1986.

Arctic Geopolitics and Security from the Canadian Perspective


rights throughout the region. This position was expressed in 2008 through a “communication” from the Commission of the European Parliament that read: “member states and the Community should defend the principle of freedom of navigation and the right of innocent passage in the newly opened routes and areas across the Arctic.” This document mentioned the “dispute” surrounding Canadian sovereignty and, while it did not specifically contest that sovereignty, the implication was clearly that the EU considers the Northwest Passage an international strait (Commission of the European Parliament 2008). In 2013, Germany also released a national Arctic policy statement calling for international regulation of Arctic sea-lanes and freedom of navigation in the Arctic Ocean. According to the Germans, these international sea-lanes included the Northwest Passage (Germany, Federal Foreign Office 2013). Asian interest in the Canadian Arctic—both as a sea route and as a resource area— has also caused consternation within Canada. China, Singapore, South Korea, and Japan are all maritime states with growing interest in the Arctic region and observer status on the Arctic Council. In the early 2000s unguarded statements by Chinese academics led to fears of a potential Chinese challenge to Canadian sovereignty. Li Zhenfu of Dalian Maritime University was quoted by Canadian academics saying that shortened shipping routes, coupled with the Arctic’s abundant oil, gas, mineral, and fishery resources, meant that “whoever has control over the Arctic route will control the new passage of world economics and world strategies (Wright 2011).” In 2010, Chinese Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo made waves with a similarly provocative assertion that “the Arctic belongs to all the people around the world, as no nation has sovereignty over it … China must play an indispensable role in Arctic exploration as we have one-fifth of the world’s population (Chang 2010).” Even Singapore was held up as a potential cause for concern after it voiced its disapproval of Canada’s 2010 decision to make vessel reporting in the Arctic mandatory, questioning whether this unilateral action is consistent with relevant international law granting Arctic states the power to regulate ice-covered areas (Huebert 2013; Raspotnik 2011). Despite considerable ink spilled on the subject, the threat from Asian states never materialized. In part because there was no real political benefit to challenging Canada over the Northwest Passage and because many of those states employed similar closing lines in their own waters, making a challenge of Canadian sovereignty legally problematic (Lackenbauer et al. 2018). As the most powerful Asian state and the owner of the world’s largest merchant marine, China’s position on the Northwest Passage remains particularly important. Some of the fear stemming from unofficial statements made in the 2000s was allayed by China’s Arctic Policy, released in 2018, which seemed to refute assertions that China was intent on challenging Arctic state sovereignty. Promoting “win-win” cooperation and environmental and social responsibility, Beijing’s stated policy objectives for the North seemed to mesh perfectly with those of most Western Arctic governments. Whether that policy can be trusted to represent China’s true ambitions remains an open question, however it’s policy at least reduces concerns that a challenge of some sort is a near-term likelihood.11 11 For

differing views on this see: Lackenbauer et al. (2018) and Brady (2017).


A. Lajeunesse

The status of the Northwest Passage, and Canada’s jurisdiction in those waters has long been an important element in Canadian Arctic policy and every government since the 1970s has felt the need to factor it into their approaches to the North. The strength of the rhetoric surrounding sovereignty has varied from government to government. Prime Ministers Pierre Trudeau and Brian Mulroney responded to perceived challenges by regularly deploying the Canadian Armed Forces to the North.12 During the 1990s, when international attention waned, the federal focus declined in lockstep. The return of the Arctic to the international policy agenda in the early 2000s led to a far more assertive stance from Prime Minister Harper which lasted a decade.13 The issue was downplayed under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as the government shifted its focus to domestic social issues, however it remains an important consideration in the background and continues to frame how Canada deals with foreign states seeking to operate in its Arctic. Regardless of the government in power, sovereignty remains a central pillar of Canadian Arctic policy. Historically, it has led to political disputes severe enough to result in summit meetings between Canadian and American leaders and even economic sanctions launched in response to what Washington saw as jurisdictional grabs.14 In recent years, concerns over foreign activity in the region have even led Canada to push back against a greater NATO role for the North. In January 2010, documents released through Wikileaks revealed that Prime Minister Harper opposed the inclusion of the Arctic into the NATO agenda, warning NATO’s secretary-general that the alliance has “no role” in the Arctic, suggesting that non-NATO members sought such a role only because it would “afford them influence in an area where “they don’t belong.”15 Questions of sovereignty have a powerful political and cultural resonance with the Canadian public. Surveys have shown strong popular support for a muscular defence against perceived threats, with a major poll from 2015 placing sovereignty as Canadians’ second priority in the North—after climate change but before the environment or the economy (Ekos Reseach 2015). This popular concern naturally manifests in Canadian defence and circumpolar policies, it impacts the way Canada deals with other states in the Arctic, and the priorities it sets in the region. So long as the legal status of the Northwest Passage remains unresolved, the question of sovereignty will retain a central place in Canadian Northern policy.

12 On

this period see: Eyre (1987). good overview of sovereignty in policy can be found in Canadian defence policies. See: Dean et al. (2014). 14 In 1970s the dispute led President Richard Nixon to impose limits on imports to Canadian oil. Kirton and Monton (1987). 15 “Canadian PM and NATO S-G Discuss Afghanistan, the Strategic Concept, and the Arctic” (2010), retrieved from Wikileaks.com. Originally quoted in John Ivison, “Canada Under Increasing Pressure to Come Up with Co-ordinated NATO Response to Russia in Arctic,” National Post (April 23, 2014), Reproduced and expanded upon in: Lackenbauer (2017). Lackenbauer notes that this reticence may be changing, citing wording from the 2016 Canadian defence policy Strong, Secure, Engaged, that places a greater emphasis on NATO in the Arctic. 13 A

Arctic Geopolitics and Security from the Canadian Perspective


Increased Activity in a Melting Arctic Like issues of sovereignty, questions of safety and security in the Canadian Arctic have grown in importance in the twenty-first century as the region’s sea-ice melt opens northern waters to new shipping and development activity. The extent of that loss has been transformational. In September 1969, while working its way through the McClure Strait, the 115,000 ton ice-strengthened supertanker SS Manhattan failed in its attempts to fight through 20 foot thick multi-year ice. In September 2012, that same route had only 20–34% old ice coverage.16 Taking advantage of this melt, three adventurers were able to travel through the strait using nothing more than a fiberglass sailboat (Ligya 2012). Early debates in Canadian academic literature assumed that this melt would lead to the establishment of a major international sea route through the Northwest Passage.17 Such a route could shorten the distance between Asia and Europe, eliminating days of travel time and significant fuel costs. From Shanghai to Rotterdam, the Northwest Passage is 3450 km shorter than the Suez Canal, while from Shanghai to New York the difference is 3850 km (Lasserre 2010). Politically, this potential activity has been a cause for some concern in Canada. If international shipping begins to treat the Northwest Passage as a useful route for international navigation, and Canada is unable to control and regulate the traffic, then that activity could support the American assertion that the passage is a strait “used for international navigation”— the description of an international strait codified in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.18 In the early 2000s, Political Scientist Rob Huebert postulated that a new crisis could arise if a foreign vessel transited the Northwest Passage without Canadian permission and without regard for Canadian regulations (Huebert 2004). Over the past two decades, these fears have been quieted by experience as no such dispute has arisen. This delay is not owed to any resistance from Canada. Indeed, Canadian governments have maintained their openness to activity in the northern waters, repeatedly echoing Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s 1969 statement that “to close off those [Arctic] waters … would be as senseless as placing barriers across the entrances to Halifax and Vancouver harbours.”19 In 2011, the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence articulated that position very well, noting that the country welcomed foreign shipping into the North “the key is just that you do it under our authority (Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence 2011).” Rather, the Northwest Passage has failed to emerge as a viable sea route owing primarily to environmental and hydrographic factors. International shipping relies on 16 Environment

Canada, Canadian Ice Services, “IceGraph—Canadian Ice Service,” online: http:// www.ec.gc.ca/glaces-ice/. 17 See for instance: Huebert (2003). 18 For early expressions of this concern see: Huebert (1994). 19 Canada, House of Commons, Debates, October 24, 1969, 28th Parliament, 2nd session, 30–40 in: Lajeunesse and Huebert (2017).


A. Lajeunesse

a system of just in time delivery with no room for unpredictable scheduling (Lasserre 2011a). The Arctic, with its unpredictable ice and weather conditions, prevents ships from traveling at predictable speeds or along preplanned routes (Lasserre 2011b). The size of a ship seeking to transit the Northwest Passage is also limited by the region’s narrow and shallow straits. The most travelled routes in the Arctic Archipelago lead through Peel Sound and M’Clintock Channel, both of which restrict the draft of a ship. This means that the economies of scale provided by larger vessels cannot be realized. The deep-draft routes through the Prince of Wales or McClure Straits can handle the 25 m draft of an ultra large crude or cargo carrier but these are the areas with the most extreme ice conditions in the Canadian Arctic—conditions that are expected to remain dangerous for most of the year, even if much of the rest of the circumpolar ice has weakened or disappeared (Arctic Council, PAME 2011). What is emerging is a great deal more local shipping. Since 1990, traffic in the Canadian Arctic has almost tripled, with the annual distance traveled by all vessels growing from around 364,179 km in 1990 to over 918,266 in 2015 (Dawson et al. 2018). Most of this traffic is by cargo ships and government vessels, though the category seeing the fastest growth has been pleasure craft, the numbers of which have increased more than 20-fold over a 25-year period (Ibid.). While most of these pleasure craft are small yachts, recent years have seen significant cruise ships plying the Northwest Passage. The 68,700 ton Crystal Serenity transited the Northwest Passage in 2016 and again in 2017, carrying a crew and guest compliment of roughly 1,500. In 2010 and 2019 the 43,188 tons The World made the transit with roughly 650 passengers and crew. Activity of this nature creates potential challenges. Transits by large ships like The World or Serenity present significant human and environmental risks should they ground in the poorly charted Arctic waters. While both of these vessels were well handled and transited without incident, large cruise operations still represent a low probability/high impact safety dilemma. While smaller craft would not have the same impact in the event of an accident they are harder to track, often less well managed, and potentially a greater safety and law enforcement challenge than their larger cousins. Commercial fishing and shipping is increasing across the North as well. Fishing activity has increased significantly—over 443% between 2011 and 2015 alone (Ibid.). Resource carriers are also beginning to ply the Arctic waters with more regularity as northern mines come online. Nickel concentrate from Deception Bay has been shipped through the Northwest Passage to China and the Mary River mine in northern Baffin is exporting iron ore in 70 panamax ships every year.20 As new mines are developed these numbers will inevitably increase.

20 Mary

River export figures taken from a Baffinland employee’s public presentation in 2018.

Arctic Geopolitics and Security from the Canadian Perspective


Defence and Security The nature of Canada’s security policy in the Arctic shifted dramatically in the twenty-first century, largely in response to new shipping, resource extraction and other civilian activity in and along the Northwest Passage. During the Cold War, Canada’s security posture in the Arctic was oriented towards conventional defence, aimed at countering potential Soviet aggression. In the 1950s, the principal security concern was the use of Arctic airspace by Soviet bombers en route to targets further south. In response, the United States and Canada embarked on the largest defence build-up in the history of the Arctic. The Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line saw 57 early warning radar stations erected—with the majority located in Canada. New weather stations, navigational facilities and airbases were established, all with an aim towards protecting the continent from threats moving through the Arctic. The Canadian Army, meanwhile, worked closely with the United States military to develop cold weather warfare capabilities (Lackenbauer et al. 2017). During the 1970s Canada conducted major military exercises involving airborne forces responding to simulated Soviet incursions in the High Arctic. The country also began regular naval deployments and aerial surveillance of the Arctic Archipelago. The 1980s saw a continuation of this trend and even a serious attempt to procure nuclear attack submarines for use (in part) in Arctic waters. This military activity faded in the 1990s as the collapse of the Soviet Union removed the military threat and downgraded the importance of continental defence. Aerial surveillance was reduced, naval deployments were stopped, and Army activity was curtailed. What political scientist Rob Huebert called the “renaissance” in Arctic defence began in the early 2000s as a reaction to the projected increase in Arctic activity (Huebert 2005–2006). New sea routes, resource projects, cruise tourism, and fishing would, it was assumed, lead to more trespassing, pollution, and crime while also increasing the need for search and rescue. While threats from state opponents retained a place in Canadian defence policy, the focus shifted from bombers and submarines to the lower-risk but higher probability safety and security issues posed by increased human activity. This shift was first enunciated in detail by Canadian Forces Northern Area (CFNA) headquarters in 2000. Taking stock of the changing economic and physical landscape in the North, CFNA Commander Colonel Pierre Leblanc pointed out the inadequacy of Canada’s military assets and position in the North and, as a result, the Department of National Defence undertook a major study of Canadian vulnerabilities and assets in the region. The conclusions were presented in the Arctic Capabilities Study, which assumed that future threats to the Arctic would originate as a result of emerging commercial shipping and development trends, not from foreign militaries. The Arctic Capabilities Study was not a major policy document but it marked a shift in Canadian security thinking about the Arctic and, over the next two decades,


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Canadian defence policy followed the basic path it laid out.21 This trend continued during the Liberal governments of Jean Chretien (1993–2003) and Paul Martin (2003–2006), represented by the 2005 International Policy Statement which made it clear that “the type of military threat to the North that we saw during the Cold War” was not likely to reoccur.22 In 2005 the Martin Liberal government was replaced by Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party, which had campaigned for a stronger military presence in the North. Despite this more militaristic framing of the issue, the Conservatives made few changes to the country’s basic assessment of, and approach to, Arctic security. Conservative Arctic strategies, such as the Statement on Canada’s Arctic Foreign Policy (2010) and Canada’s Northern Strategy (2009), continued to emphasise a vision for the region as “a stable, rules-based region,” focused on unconventional threats while downplaying the possibility of military confrontation (Canada 2010). The operationalization of this concept was best illustrated by the Canadian Armed Forces 2010 Arctic Integrating Concept, an operational level examination of the military’s role and responsibilities in the Arctic. Here the most likely threats were again listed as law enforcement challenges, environmental threats, and crime (Chief of Force Development 2011). This approach was echoed in other CAF documents; the Canadian Forces Northern Employment and Support Plan (2012), for instance, focused on the dangers presented by shipping and criminal activity, referring to conventional defence problems as “unlikely” and perhaps a “future challenge (DND 2012).” Perhaps this general attitude towards defence was best summed up by Chief of the Defence Staff General Walter Natynczyk in 2010 when he told the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, that “if a country invades the Canadian Arctic, my first challenge is search and rescue to help them out.”23 In his testimony to the Standing Committee, Natynczyk continued on to say: “The North is about all the things that are not military in the sense that it is about search and rescue, the environment, its criminality and all of those other aspects that are in the domains of others. The Canadian Forces has an important role to play in supporting the success of others (Ibid.).” These ‘others’ are the civilian departments with responsibilities and mandates in the North. Because Canada does not anticipate conflict in the region the Canadian military is primarily a supporting actor, providing transport, ships, and human resources that enable other government departments to enforce Canadian jurisdiction and react to a wide array of contingencies in a rapid, coordinated manner.24 This focus is evident in Canada’s annual northern exercise—Operation Nanook—which brings actors from across the Canadian federal and territorial governments to practice responding to a wide array of security scenarios,

21 For a full analysis of the ACS and Canadian defence policy evolution see: Lackenbauer and Lajeunesse (2019). 22 Canada (2005) in Dean et al. (2014). 23 Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, Issue 5, Evidence (7 June 2010). 24 Canadian Joint Operations Command (January 2014) in: Lackenbauer and Lajeunesse (2017).

Arctic Geopolitics and Security from the Canadian Perspective


most of which focus on environmental protection, search and rescue, and disaster response.25 This unconventional approach to security has continued into the mandate of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government as well. The Liberal defence policy Strong, Secure, Engaged states, for instance, that the role of the CAF in the Arctic is to “maintain a robust capacity to respond to a range of domestic emergencies, including by providing military support to civilian organizations on national security and law enforcement matters when called upon, engaging in rapid disaster response, and contributing to effective search and rescue operations.” As has been the case in all Canadian Arctic defence policies since 2000, this work is also to be undertaken “in close partnership with other federal, territorial, and local partners (Canada, Department of National Defence 2017).” This tasking could easily have come from any Canadian government of the twenty-first century.

Circumpolar Relations Canada’s security policy in the Arctic is intertwined with its broader policy on circumpolar relations. Canada expects no need to develop a warfighting capability in the North American Arctic because it believes that the Arctic is—and will remain—a stable, conflict-free region. Over the past twenty years, Canada’s Arctic foreign policy has worked to build and maintain this peaceful, rules-based international order where both Arctic states and non-Arctic states work cooperatively under well-established legal frameworks. The Harper government’s Arctic policy statements make this approach to circumpolar relations very clear; its Statement on Canada’s Arctic Foreign Policy, for instance, outlined a vision for the Arctic as “a stable, rules-based region with clearly defined boundaries, dynamic economic growth and trade, vibrant Northern communities, and healthy and productive ecosystems (Canada 2010).” Likewise, Canada’s Northern Strategy downplayed the possibility of military confrontation in the region and gestured to a stable and well-governed circumpolar community. While the sovereignty dispute with the United States over the Northwest Passage remained an issue, the Americans were cast as an “exceptionally valuable partner in the Arctic (Canada, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development 2009).” This policy also emphasized opportunities for cooperation with Russia and “common interests” with European Arctic states, as well as a shared commitment to international law (Ibid.). “We’re not going down a road toward confrontation,” Foreign Affairs minister Lawrence Cannon announced in 2009, “indeed, we’re going down a road toward co-operation and collaboration. That is the Canadian way.”26 25 For a complete list of OP Nanook scenarios see: DND, “Operation Nanook,” www.canada. ca/en/department-national-defence/services/operations/military-operations/current-operations/ operation-nanook.html. 26 Quoted in CBC News (July 26, 2009).


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The Trudeau government has maintained and even expanded this approach to circumpolar relations. The Liberal defence policy framed the Arctic as a region of cooperation and stability, stating: “Arctic states have long cooperated on economic, environmental, and safety issues, particularly through the Arctic Council, the premier body for cooperation in the region. All Arctic states have an enduring interest in continuing this productive collaboration (Canada, Department of National Defence 2010: 50).” The government’s Arctic Policy Framework echoed this sentiment. In a paragraph that perfectly encapsulates Canada’s desire for regional governance it states: The circumpolar Arctic is well-known for its stability and high level of international cooperation, a product of the robust rules-based international order in the Arctic that Canada played an instrumental role in shaping. The rules-based international order is the sum of international rules, norms and institutions that govern international affairs. It benefits the national and global interest by fostering peace and stability for the Arctic; conditions which are necessary for Arctic and northern communities to thrive socially, economically and environmentally (Canada 2019).

These “rules, norms, and institutions” include multilateral forums such as the Arctic Coast Guard Forum, Arctic Economic Council, and various United Nations organizations, such as the International Maritime Organization, which enable international cooperation and reduce regional tensions. Canada’s circumpolar policy is also heavily dependent on international respect for the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to delimit boundaries, jurisdictions, and sovereignty. Together, these legal systems and international fora create an effective framework for governance and international cooperation. In a rebuke to questions about the stability of Arctic governance systems, Canada joined the other four Arctic coastal states at Ilulissat in 2008 to express its confidence in these systems and to reject the need for any new legal regime. With the other Arctic coastal states, Canada committed to the orderly and peaceful settlement of any outstanding sovereignty or jurisdictional issues which may remain in the North.27 While the future may take the Arctic in unexpected directions, the recent past has proven this approach both sensible and effective.

Conclusions In the twenty-first century the Canadian Arctic is changing fast. The region is warming at roughly three times the global average, bringing new activity and new threats. Reflecting on these changes, Canada’s Arctic Policy Framework describes the North as “an important crossroad where issues of climate change, international trade and global security meet.” The challenges stemming from this newfound accessibility and geopolitical prominence include the regulatory and security challenges created 27 Ilulissat

Declaration, Adopted in Ilulissat, Greenland on May 28, 2008 by Canada, the United States, Russia, Denmark, and Norway.

Arctic Geopolitics and Security from the Canadian Perspective


by increased shipping, interests, safety issues stemming from a surge in tourism, new search and rescue requirements, threats to the environmental from human activity, and the ever present need to regulate, police, and control this growing activity (Canada 2019). Canada has reacted to these changes in a measured fashion, increasing its capabilities across a broad spectrum while not overreacting to perceived military threats. Since the turn of the century, Canadian security policy has consistently focused on the growing unconventional threats posed by new civilian activity in the region. This means the preservation of Canadian control over the Arctic, preventing non-state actors from violating Canadian law and regulations while guarding the approaches to North America from a variety of potential dangers. Meeting these challenges means growing Canada’s presence and capacity in the region to augment what the Arctic Policy Framework defines as Canada’s “control capabilities (Ibid.).” In meeting these requirements, Canada also demonstrates its sovereignty. Sovereignty means defending and demonstrating Canada’s claim to full ownership over the Northwest Passage and the waters of the Arctic Archipelago. This political requirement has had a central place in Canadian policy for generations and remains an importance consideration to this day. Globally, Canada continues to push for a peaceful, rules-based Arctic region, defined and governed by international law and multilateral cooperation. Canadian sovereignty and security policies fit into this broader, international approach and are, in many ways, reliant upon it for the legal framework which defines Canadian control of its Arctic and the cooperation which has shaped Canadian security policy since the 1990s. Canadian Arctic policy has never been static; it changes with circumstances, external catalysts, and government preference. It is underpinned, however, by several core areas of interest, with two of the most essential of these being the maintenance of national sovereignty and regional security. In the years ahead the Arctic will continue to change and Canada will be forced to adapt. Understanding and anticipating how Canada will respond requires an understanding of these key elements of national policy.

References Arctic Council, PAME. (2011). Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment 2009, 32 and Analyse & Strategi, Marine Traffic in the Arctic: A Report Commissioned by the Norwegian Mapping Authority. Oslo: Analyse & Strategi, 2011. Blanchford, M. (2019). U.S. says Canadian claim to Northwest passage is ‘Illegitimate’. Globe and Mail. Brady, A.-M. (2017). China as a great polar power. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Canada. (2010). Statement on Canada’s Arctic foreign policy (p. 2). Ottawa: Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Canada, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. (2009). Canada’s northern strategy: our north, our heritage, our future. Canada, Department of National Defence. (2017). Strong, secure, engaged. Chang, G. G. (2010). China’s Arctic play. Diplomat.


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Chief of Force Development. (2011). Arctic integrating concept; Chief of the Defence Staff/Deputy Minister Directive for DND/CF in the North, Appendix A: 1–2. Commission of the European Parliament. (November 20, 2008). Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the European Union and the Arctic Region. Dawson, J., et al. (2018). Temporal and spatial patterns of ship traffic in the Canadian Arctic from 1990 to 2015. Arctic, 71, 1. Dean, R., et al. (2014). Canadian Arctic defence policy: A synthesis of key documents, 1970–2013. Documents on Canadian Arctic Sovereignty and Security no. 1. Calgary: CMSS/CFPF. Ekos Reseach. (2015). Rethinking the top of the world: Arctic public opinion survey 2, Poll for the Munk School and Gordon Foundation. Elliot-Meisel, E. (1998). Arctic diplomacy. New York: Peter Lang Publishing Ltd. Eyre, K. (1987). Forty years of military activity in the Canadian North, 1947–87. Arctic, 40, 4. Gaillard M. (2001). Canada’s sovereignty in changing Arctic waters. In Legal Affairs Bureau, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Germany, Federal Foreign Office. (November, 2013). Germany’s Arctic policy guidelines: assume responsibility, seize opportunities. Huebert, R. (1993). Steel, ice and decision-making: The voyage of the polar sea and its aftermath: The making of Canadian Northern foreign policy (Ph.D. dissertation). Dalhousie University. Huebert, R. (November 16, 1994). The shipping news part II, 302. On UNCLOS see the original treaty: United Nations, Convention on the Law of the Sea, signed December 10, 1982 at Montego Bay, Jamaica, came into effect, Part III, Section 1, Article 34. Huebert R. (2003). The shipping news Part II. International Journal, 58, 3. Huebert R. (2004). The coming Arctic maritime sovereignty crisis. Arctic Bulletin, 2, 4. Huebert, R. (2005–2006). Renaissance in Canadian Arctic security? Canadian Military Journal, 6, 4. Huebert, R. (August 23, 2013). Canada has to walk its Arctic talk. Globe and Mail. Kirton, J., & Munton, D. (1987). The Manhattan voyages and their aftermath. In F. Griffiths (Ed.), Politics of the northwest passage. Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press. Lackenbauer, P. W. (2009). From polar race to polar saga: An integrated strategy for Canada and the circumpolar world. Foreign Policy for Canada’s Tomorrow No. 3. Toronto: Canadian International Council. Lackenbauer, P. W. (2017). Artic defence and security: transitioning to the Trudeau government. In P. Whitney Lackenbauer & H. Nicol (Eds.), Whole of Government through an Arctic Lens. Antigonish: Brian Mulroney Institute of Government. Lackenbauer, P. W., & Dean, R. (2016). Canada’s northern strategy under the Harper conservatives: key speeches and documents on sovereignty, security, and governance, 2005–15. Documents on Canadian Arctic sovereignty and Security 6. Calgary: CMSS/AINA/CFPF. Lackenbauer, P. W., & Lajeunesse, A. (2017). The emerging Arctic Security Environment: Putting the military in its (whole of Government) place. In Whole of Government through an Arctic Lens. Antigonish: BMIG. Lackenbauer, P. W., & Lajeunesse, A. (2019). Defence policy in the Canadian Arctic: From Jean Chrétien to Justin Trudeau. In S. Vucetic, et al. (Eds.), Canadian defence: Theory & Policy. Toronto: Palgrave McMillan. Lackenbauer, P. W., Kikkert, P., & Eyre, K. C. (2017). Lessons in Arctic warfare: The army experience, 1945–55. In W. P. Lackenbauer & A. Lajeunesse (Eds.), Canadian Armed Forces Arctic operations: Lessons learned, lost, and relearned. Fredericton: Gregg Centre. Lackenbauer, P. W., Lajeunesse, A., Manicom, J., & Lasserre F. (2018). China’s Arctic ambitions: And what they mean for Canada. Calgary: University of Calgary Press. Lajeunesse, A. (2016). Lock, stock, and icebergs: The evolution of Canada’s Arctic maritime sovereignty. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press. Lajeunesse, A. (December, 2018). Finding “Win-Win:” China’s Arctic policy and what it means for Canada,” Canadian Global Affairs Institute Policy Paper.

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Lajeunesse, A., & Huebert, R. (Eds.) (2017). From the Polar Sea to straight baselines: Arctic policy in the Mulroney era. Documents on Canadian Arctic Sovereignty and Security. Calgary: CMSS/AINA/CFPF. Lajeunesse, A., & Lackenbauer, P. W. (2016). The Canadian Armed Forces in the Arctic: Building appropriate capabilities. Journal of Military and Strategic Studies, 16, 4 (Spring). Lasserre, F. (2010). China and the Arctic: Threat or cooperation potential for Canada? Canadian International Council, China Papers 11. Lasserre, F. (2011a). The geopolitics of Arctic passages and continental shelves. Public Sector Digest. Lasserre, F. (2011b). Arctic shipping routes: From the Panama myth to reality. International Journal, 66, 4. Ligya, A. (2012). Q&A: First sailboat passes through Arctic route, the McClure strait. National Post. McRae, D. M., & Goundrey D. J. (1982). Environmental jurisdiction in Arctic waters: The extent of Article 234. University of British Columbia Law Review 197. Raspotnik, A. (December 23, 2011). Positive unilateralism—An effective strategy to protect the Canadian Arctic environment or a subtle approach to establish sovereignty? The Arctic Institute. Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. (March, 2011). Sovereignty and security in Canada’s Arctic, Interim Report. Wright, D. (2011). The dragon eyes the top of the world Arctic policy debate and discussion in China. In China Maritime Studies Institute 8. Newport: Naval War College.

Norway’s High North Geopolitics: Continuities and Changes Through Three Decades Christoph Humrich

The chapter reviews Norwegian geopolitics of High North security, sovereignty, and sustainable development from the end of the Cold War to the end of the second decade of the new millennium. The chapter pays particular attention to the consequences of Norway being a small power, but a large coastal state. The formulation of High North policies is traced through the development of respective documents and related to domestic political processes. The policies are characterized by certain internal tensions, around which they have varied over time and which have become more pronounced. As the overall political situation in the High North deteriorates, this might hamper Norway’s ability to remain the pivotal supporter of international cooperation in the Arctic it has been so far.

Introduction: Norway’s Geopolitics of the High North Climate change, alleged regional resource wealth, and its perceived significance as an arena in a re-emerging global great power competition are the causes of the Arctic’s recent rise on political agendas and in public attention. Among the consequences of this rise are increasing activities of states in the region. Arguably, the most active state in the region is Norway. It is no surprise, therefore, that the respective Norwegian politics and policies have been well described and analysed already (e.g. Flikke 2011; Hønneland 2014; Tamnes 2011). Necessarily, this chapter will cover some of the same ground and overlap to some degree with the existing literature. It tries to add value regarding three aspects. First: State activity in the Arctic is often couched in terms of ‘geopolitics’ without further justification.1 By contrast, this chapter is more explicit in what sense ‘geopolitics’ might have analytical leverage. On the one hand, ‘geopolitics’ here 1 See

for instance Blunden (2009) and Ebinger and Zambetakis (2009) as examples.

C. Humrich (B) University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 J. Weber (ed.), Handbook on Geopolitics and Security in the Arctic, Frontiers in International Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-45005-2_4



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denotes policies directed at the governance of a certain political space—in the case of Norway ‘nordområdene’ (literally ‘the northern areas’, but usually translated with ‘High North’).2 This chapter follows three such policies: the geopolitics of High North sovereignty concern the definition of the spatial extent of the exercise of state authority and jurisdiction in the High North. Geopolitics of High North security are directed towards territorial integrity of the respective space. The appropriation and management of nature in the given territory and under its geophysical and biological conditions is the task of geopolitics of sustainable development in the High North. On the other hand, ‘geopolitics’ indicates that geographic features influence or are reflected in the politics of High North sovereignty, security, and sustainable development. The features relevant here being Norway’s character as a coastal state and as a relatively small state. The influence of these geographic characteristics, i.e. the significance attached to them and how they set conditions for the geopolitics of the High North, is mediated by historically varying economic, legal and political contexts. Most of the literature on Arctic geopolitics displays a certain imbalance in favour of explaining and analysing Arctic states’ behaviour as being driven by dynamics on the level of interstate relations. Less attention is paid to the contingencies and variation of domestic context, even though for instance Geir Hønneland points to the crucial influence of “internal issues in Norwegian politics” (2014: 236). Therefore, secondly, the chapter treats domestic origins of Norwegian High North geopolitics with more detail. Thirdly, using ‘role’ as structuring metaphor, this chapter takes a closer look at the script according to which Norway performs as an actor on the Arctic stage. According to Halvard Leira et al. this script centres on the self-perception as “responsible steward of polar oceans” (2007: 28–29).3 However, Leira et al. identify “important tensions and potential self-contradictions” inherent in the Norwegian role script (2007: 5). Along these tensions, the chapter discerns variation in the script regarding the geopolitics of High North sovereignty, security and sustainable development. Against the backdrop of the mentioned three aspects for adding value, the next section elaborates on Norway’s character as an actor on the Arctic stage and the general context in which this character comes to matter. Section three and four mainly cover what could be called ‘the long 1990s’. In these years the conditions and scenery formed for a new drama to be played in the Arctic. The ‘long 1990s’ start in the years of the unravelling Cold War confrontation and end in 2002 when, arguably, a new scenery on the Arctic stage was set, and the content for a new role script began to crystallize. The fifth section shows how such a new script consolidated and was conducted in the years from 2003 to 2013. In the aftermath of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, relations with Russia in the High North are described to have experienced a “tectonic shift” (Wilhelmsen and Gjerde 2018: 391). However, as the sixth section argues, the geopolitics of High North security are not the only policies in which the role-script faces increasing challenges. 2 On

the meaning and relevance of ‘nordområdene’ or ‘High North’ in Norwegian discourse see Skagestad (2010), Jensen and Hønneland (2011), and Tamnes (2011: 48). 3 All translations from Norwegian sources are my own.

Norway’s High North Geopolitics: Continuities and Changes …


The Character and Its Context: Norway as an Actor on the Arctic Stage In his recent introduction to the historical study of Norwegian foreign policy, Roald Berg presents two important influencing characteristics: Norway is a coastal state, and it is a small state (2016: 175). Berg sees the latter as “probably the most important continuous characteristic in Norwegian foreign policy history” (2016: 175). Here it will be argued, by contrast, that while Norway is a small state and a coastal state, it is by no means a small coastal state. It is its specific character as a coastal state which is reflected in the self-assumed role as responsible steward of the Arctic Ocean and thus matters most in the context of High North geopolitics. That Norway is a small state is a recurrent remark both in practical politics as in respective academic accounts. Flikke for instance emphasizes that in terms of military might, Norway is “[d]efinitely a small state in Arctic […] affairs” (2011: 65). Yet, the smallness argument strictly holds true in only one other dimension: With its roughly 5,3 million inhabitants (2019) Norway ranks 119th in the population statistic of the UN member-states. Regarding the size of its landmass it already climbs to rank 68. What matters more, however, is its geographical extension in a North-South direction. The linear distance between the mainland’s South tip and the country’s North Cape is around 1700 km, roughly the same as from Oslo to the Mediterranean port of Genua. Travelling the distance by car even comes closer to 2700 km. The mainland makes Norway a coastal state of the North-East-Atlantic. With the Svalbard archipelago,4 almost another 1000 km off the North-Norwegian mainland coast, Norway is a coastal state to the Arctic Ocean too.5 On the two oceans, Norway’s shores border four marginal seas or marine areas which are partly or entirely above the Arctic Circle: the Norwegian Sea, the Greenland Sea, the Wandel Sea, and the Barents Sea. The consequences of Norway being a coastal state, however, only come fully into view when considered in the international legal context. This is due to the country’s long-curved shape, which gives Norway a very extensive baseline at its North-EastAtlantic coast.6 By ever farther legal extension of exclusive usage rights into the ocean, the Law of the Sea today accords Norway the next extensive sovereign rights claim in Europe when terrestrial and marine areas are combined—together almost 30% of European land and sea territory (Lodgaard 2005). In the list of UN memberstates by seize of marine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), Norway ranks 17th. The discrepancy between the country’s smallness in military terms and the vastness of the marine area in which it may assert its authority and jurisdiction according to the Law of the Sea, poses severe challenges for Norway’s geopolitics of High North sovereignty. 4 The

Spitzbergen Treaty of 1920 establishes “full and absolute [Norwegian] sovereignty” over the Archipelago (§1). 5 By virtue of its possessions in the South Polar Sea and its land claims on Antarctica, it is of course also a coastal state there and the only true ‘bi-polar’ state (cf. Jensen 2016). 6 ‘Baseline’ is used here in the legal sense of the Law of the Sea denoting the line on the basis of which the extent of maritime zones is defined (UNCLOS: §5).


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Yet, the vast marine areas have also given small Norway great national wealth with one of the highest per capita GDPs of the world and ranking among the 28 to 32 UN member-states with the highest overall GDP. Thus, the conditions for the geopolitics of Norwegian High North sustainable development are set by the economic context of national wealth creation from marine resources. Since the discovery of the North Sea reserves, the offshore oil-and gas-extraction has been “Norway’s largest industry, measured either in value creation, revenues to the Norwegian state or export value” (Keil 2014: 175). Fishery and seafood businesses are the second largest economic branches today. Arguably, the dependence on marine and non-renewable resources has furthered awareness of their limits and possible exhaustion, and thus of the importance of conservation and sustainable utilization. Gullestad et al. (2014) for instance argue that the Norwegian fisheries crisis in the 1960s, caused by the collapse of herring stocks, catalyzed the development of a strict sustainable utilization regime in the country. Looking only at national wealth, however, misses the North-South divide in Norway which has been deepened by the economies of marine resources. Due to mere distances, but also of course to the harsher climate higher up North, there are great differences between the counties (fylke) above the Arctic Circle (Nordland, Troms, and Finnmark) and those in the South regarding settlement structures, and social and economic conditions.7 The oil and gas industry established an additional economic centre at the South-West coast. The other centre being the capital’s area in the SouthEast. In the South, the rise of the oil and gas industry mitigated the consequences of structural change in the fishery production in which local factories and land-based distribution mechanisms were replaced by ship-based processing. As fisheries was a more important branch of the North-Norwegian economy, this aggravated the divide between the rich (and relatively) urban centres of the South and the mostly rural settlements and infrastructures of the North. For the geopolitics of High North security, finally, Norway’s smallness matters through the political context of relations with its neighbouring great powers. For all of its modern history, Norway bordered at, was in union with or even dependent part of great powers.8 For the geopolitics of the High North, of course, the relation with its large neighbour to the North-East mattered most. Between the end of World War II and the end of the Cold War, the Soviet Union and Norway have been on opposing sides of the major political fault lines across Europe. The severity of the divide certainly varied—with respective consequences for instance for bilateral cooperation. Nevertheless, the Cold War context provided a straightforward translation of Norway’s geographic position into geopolitics of High North security. Norway’s small state defence forces were supposed to trouble invading forces long enough for the collective defence of NATO to mobilize. As a coastal state, Norway’s task in NATO was to contribute to surveillance of the North-East-Atlantic marine areas (cf. Tamnes 7 Against

fierce resistance the government decided to merge the counties of Finnmark and Troms in 2020. 8 It was part of Denmark until 1814, in a forced union with Sweden until 1905, and bordered the Soviet Union until the latter’s dissolution 1991 and Russia since then.

Norway’s High North Geopolitics: Continuities and Changes …


2011: 48f; Hønneland 2014: 237f). After the Cold War, defining the relationship with Russia has become more of a challenge. The script for the Norwegian role, however, does not emerge from the geographic characteristics and their contexts alone. It is also informed by the self-image of Norway as an actor on the Arctic stage. This self-image as ‘responsible steward for the Arctic Ocean’ contains certain tensions with respect to High North policies. In the geopolitics of High North sovereignty, Norway on the one hand subscribes to international law and multilateralism both for defining spatial reach of sovereign rights, and for limiting sovereign freedom where it affects others. On the other hand, it has at times also quite stubbornly insisted on national self-determination and engaged (within its legal rights) in unilateral moves to ascertain its sovereign prerogatives against international claims or interference. In that sense, Norway took “a position as a traditional littoral maritime state defying institutional ‘innovation’ and defending the status quo” (Flikke 2011: 66). Regarding the geopolitics of High North security Norway pursues a two-pronged strategy with potential tensions: Deterring the Soviet Union and Russia with NATO on the one hand and re-assuring them by unilateral restrained and multiple offers for working together bilaterally or multilaterally on the other. This combination entails, that, both vis-à-vis NATO and vis-à-vis Russia, Norway balances between tight cooperation and insisting on individual exceptions and positions.9 In the geopolitics of High North sustainable development, the tension exists between economic utilization and consumption of natural resources on the one hand, and environmental protection and conservation on the other. Norway has seen itself as environmental world champion (Skjærseth and Rosendahl 1995: 161). And in Arctic international environmental politics, Young identified Norway as the “standard bearer of Arctic cooperation willing to provide resources as well as rhetoric for new initiatives in this realm” (1998: 156). But that has not kept it from taking risks for the marine environment from oil and gas activities. Moreover, while Norway leads action against climate change, its economy is based on extracting more of the fossil fuels firing this change.10 Multilateralism and sovereign prerogatives, deterrence and re-assurance, economic development and environmental protection: The emphases on the respective sides of these pairs vary over time with international context, but also due to domestic change—for instance with different political parties in power. The following sections sketch this variation as it plays out in the Norwegian geopolitics of the High North.

9 The

respective tensions come to the fore in both Tamnes (2011) and Flikke (2011). the tension between sustainability and oil and gas development in the Arctic see Mikkelsen and Langhelle (2008). 10 On


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Conditioning: Setting the Scenery on the Arctic Stage in the First Half of the ‘Long 1990s’ The political context of the Cold War’s end confronted the Norwegian government with a domestic and a foreign policy challenge. The foreign policy challenge was to re-define and re-shape the relationship with Russia and help to integrate Russia into the new European order. Environmental concerns gave this challenge a focus. While the territorial integrity of Norway was no longer in danger from a Soviet attack, the Norwegian High North was nevertheless suffering from pollutants crossing the border and was threatened by the risk of nuclear disaster from old and badly maintained Russian nuclear facilities, weapons, and vessels. The domestic challenge concerned the Norwegian High North’s economic and social situation. The Cold War had ensured some attention of the South to the North. Military infrastructures brought money into the region and helped maintain certain settlement (cf. Nyhamar 2004: 242). With the Norwegian-Russian border losing its political and military significance, so did the North. The consequences were aggravated by economic conditions. Norway suffered the worst financial crisis in its history and respective economic recession between 1989 and 1993. The crisis provided incentives for the government to save money on now no longer immediately necessary defence expenses, and tight budgets hit the government transfer dependent North anyway. To meet both challenges, the Norwegian government looked South initially: to the European Union (EU). The EU seemed useful not only for the integration of Russia into the European order, but also as a way to diversify and develop the heavily resource dependent Norwegian economy and to increase the capacity for coping with an economic crisis that had come about by liberalization of national financial markets. For Norway, there was, however, one important obstacle. Northern Norwegians were less convinced than their government that joining the EU was a solution to their problems. The Norwegian population had already once rejected an EU membership in 1974 and the government was aware that in the fishery dominated rural areas of the North antipathy against the EU was particularly high. With these conditions present, then Norwegian foreign minister Thorvald Stoltenberg had an idea to hit two birds with one stone. In 1991 he proposed a two-tiered cooperation in the Barents Sea region, including the EU. Negotiations started in 1992. Established by the Kirkenes Declaration in early 1993, the intergovernmental tier of the Barents Euro-Arctic Region (BEAR) met in the Barents Euro Arctic Council (BEAC).11 The sub-regional of the Barents Regional Council is constituted by the northern counties of the respective states as well as of organizations of three indigenous peoples of the region. Regarding the foreign policy challenge of relations with Russia, the BEAR complements but also extends previous bilateral cooperation between the Soviet Union and Norway by multilateralizing it and adding 11 Members were Norway, Finland, Sweden, Russia and the EU. Young (1998) provides a comprehensive and authoritative account of the emergence of the Barents Euro-Arctic cooperation and the Norwegian role in it.

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a people-to-people level.12 In a sense, Stoltenberg radicalized the former re-assurance approach to Russia with a neo-functionalist logic in which political rapprochement is achieved through spill-over from successes in solving common problems.13 In terms of the domestic challenge, Stoltenberg hoped that both the direct involvement of the EU, as well as the focus on economic development and solving practical problems in the Northern regions, would create a more favourable disposition towards joining the EU. The attempts to garner support for EU membership in Northern Norway failed in the end. When Norwegians rejected a respective proposition in a referendum in 1994,14 the government changed its perspective on the High North, because Norwegian foreign-policy makers feared their country standing at the sidelines of the new European and transatlantic order only. With the fault lines of the Cold War gone, Norway had lost its importance for transatlantic security. European policy-makers’ attention had become much more attracted to the opening Eastern European countries. When in addition Sweden and Finland joined the EU, Norway also seemed isolated in the Nordic cooperation. Therefore, rather than enlisting the EU to solve problems in the North, the North now became a vehicle to further engage the EU. Moreover, regional cooperation in the High North could reinforce Nordic cooperation in the presence of the EU-/non-EU-member divide. Circumpolar cooperation provided an opportunity to maintain transatlantic ties with the US and Canada. This change in perspective goes a long way to explain why Norway in the second half of the nineties developed into the ‘standard bearer of international cooperation’ in the Arctic.

Crystallization: Completion of Scenery on the Arctic Stage and Emerging Role Content at the End of the ‘Long 1990s’ Stoltenberg’s neo-functionalist proposal for regional cooperation was neither the only one coming up in the aftermath of the Cold War—the Council of the Baltic Sea States being another—nor was it the first one for the High North. The so-called Finnish initiative of 1989 had led to the signing of the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS) of the Arctic Eight in 1991.15 As BEAR later, the cooperation under the AEPS was based on the interest of further Russian integration into the emerging European order. The Finnish initiative proposed the AEPS as ‘low politics’ arrangement, a 12 Bilateral cooperation existed for the common management of fisheries in the Barents Sea since the 70s, for environmental protection since 1988. Bilateral cooperation on nuclear safety was added in 1995. 13 Both Young (1998: 62), and Flikke (2011) emphasize the importance of functionalist thinking for the Norwegian approach to international cooperation in the High North. 14 While the overall result with 52% against EU-membership was a close call, the rejection of membership in the North reached over 75%. 15 The Arctic Eight are Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, USA, Canada, Denmark/Greenland, and Iceland.


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main goal for Finland being to stop environmental damage caused by Russian heavy industry and nuclear activities.16 As Stoltenberg’s subsequent initiative for BEAR, also the AEPS had met initial reluctance or even resistance in the Norwegian foreign policy administration as it seemed to lean too much, and too unconditional toward the cooperative side of Norway’s previous two-pronged approach towards Russia. Norway finally got convinced of the Finnish initiative, because officials from the environmental ministry were thrilled by the prospect of establishing an Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) under the AEPS —which has since been funded and staffed with an own small secretariat by Norway (Young 1998: 61f; 156f). Already in 1989, Canada had aired the idea to further institutionalize AEPS cooperation in a more comprehensive regional organization and had subsequently pushed for the establishment of an Arctic Council (AC) through diplomatic channels.17 Here too, the Norwegians showed much initial reluctance as they feared a competition of another regional body in the High North with the BEAR. However, when after the EUreferendum the Norwegian perspective changed, so did Norway’s attitude towards the Canadian initiative. As regional multilateralism in the North made up for lack of political integration in the EU, Norway stepped up its engagement in both BEAR and AC, and quickly evolved into a pivotal country in both arrangements. As BEAR had been a Norwegian pet project anyway, increased Norwegian activity made the bigger difference in the AC context. The Norwegians decisively contributed to reaching an agreement on setting up the AC in the first place. One particular point of contention had been the thematic scope for the AC. Norway mediated between the Canadian proposed comprehensive agenda under the label of sustainable development and the US insistence on a more narrowly circumscribed environmental and conservationist focus. With its interest in economic opportunities for the High North on the one hand, and in reducing environmental damage and risk from Russian industrial and nuclear activities on the other, Norway could speak to both sides and propose plausible compromises. After the AC was officially inaugurated in 1996, Norway took a leading role in the long and arduous process of getting the AC’s Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG) on track.18 Another major contribution to the AEPS and later AC was made in the working group ‘Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment’ (PAME). Here, clearly Norway’s interests as coastal state and its neighbourhood to Russia mattered. Norway successfully worked for establishing the Regional Plan of Action for the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (1998), which mostly provided a background for helping to establish a respective Russian national plan of action. Norway also made first attempts to set Arctic shipping on PAME’s agenda, and supported a more comprehensive approach to marine politics in the AC.

16 This section follows Young’s (1998) comprehensive account which also covers early cooperation

under the AEPS. the emergence of the AC cf. Axworthy and Dean (2013). 18 On the integration of sustainable development in AEPS and AC see Humrich (2018: 33-37). 17 For

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It certainly did not hurt the Norwegian activities in High North multilateralism that the general elections in 1997 brought a new government. Due to the relative success for the small centre Christian Peoples Party (KrF), it formed a centre minority government including also the liberal centre Party called ‘Left’ (Venstre) and the at that time more conservative Centre Party (Sp). All parties had strong environmental commitments—particularly also regarding climate change. KrF and Sp drew support from voters in the rural areas, Sp particularly among the fishery communities in the North and the anti-EU movement. Venstre saw itself as particularly serving small enterprises. These programmatic orientations included the understanding of sustainable development in the High North by small scale utilization of living natural resources, with which Norway was able to mediate in the AC negotiations and on which the AC member-states subsequently agreed. The 2001 general election then brought the geopolitics of High North security back on the agenda. The stronger conservative Right Party (Høyre) replaced the Centre Party as partner in the now centre-right coalition. Among Høyre’s voters were parts of the conservative defence establishment which was agitated about the state of the Norwegian Armed Forces and defence policy. In the years around the turn of the millennium this domestic political constellation faced four challenges regarding the geopolitics of the High North from which the content for the future Norwegian role script later crystallized. The first of these was a “deep crisis” in the organization and financing of the Norwegian Armed Forces (NOU 2000: 25). Political commitments had blocked the closing of military installations in the North and thus a decisive transformation and re-allocation of budget money. This would, however, have been necessary to meet increasing world-wide engagement of the Norwegian Armed Forces stretching personnel and equipment capacity. Even the Ministry of defence had sounded ever louder alarms (e.g. NMoD 2001). But the defence establishment also criticized the lack of attention devoted to Russia, which at that time started to become a more self-confident great power again. The latter included a tougher Russian stance in the bilateral cooperation with Norway—which emerged as a second challenge. At the end of the 1990s coordination of fishery policy in the Barents Sea became much more difficult, and despite a lot of money transfer from Norway, progress in reducing transboundary air pollution from Russia halted (cf. Hønneland 2011: 265).19 Thirdly, a certain disillusionment also crept in regarding the opportunities and benefits for economic development of the North through the interstate and people-to-people cooperation in BEAR. It seemed the multilateral cooperation did not yield the expected returns for the North. Finally, the transition to the AC and the negotiation of its sustainability agenda had illustrated substantial difficulties of the AC to become a regional forum for sustainable development. Moreover, it had become clear that the organizational structure of the Arctic Council needed to be made more effective.20 In view of these challenges, the government decided 19 Though,

as Hønneland emphasizes, cooperation on nuclear safety was very successful (2011: 266). 20 An internally commissioned evaluation of the AC (Haavisto 2001), provided respective background analysis and proposals.


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to seek counsel about the High North from an expert commission. The setting-up of this commission in 2003 marks the start of the emergence of an explicit role script for the respective Norwegian geopolitics in the High North.

Consolidating and Conducting the Script for Norwegian High North Geopolitics: 2003–2013 In just over half a year the commission produced a report (NOU 2003). It demanded and outlined a more active, more prioritized, and more comprehensive approach to the High North. In a sense, it established High North policies as a separate, spatially defined issue area in Norwegian political discourse.21 It managed to incite public attention and spur respective debate. This was also due to the follow-up on the report. The government had difficulties to agree on respective measures. An expected white paper was delayed several times (NMoFA 2005). When it finally came out in April 2005 it was mostly perceived as “disappointing”. But the disappointment made the ‘nordområdene’ “the foreign policy issue of the autumn 2005 election campaign” (Jensen and Hønneland 2011: 44). This election was won by a red-green centre coalition under the leadership of Jens Stoltenberg, son of Thorvald Stoltenberg. Social Democrats (Ap), the Socialist Left Party (SV), and the now turned to the left centre Sp gave the High North already pride of place in their common programmatic platform.22 The publication of the government’s first High North Strategy in 2006 then was an even bolder move, which—in a paraphrase of later self-description of the government—in comparison to the previous white paper broadened the scope, raised the ambition level, and strengthened policy instrument.23 Instead of dropping policies and instruments which had been experienced as ineffective, the government simply doubled the effort and resolve to make them work. The strategy not only puts together so far separated policies in a comprehensive script, it also elevates the High North to “one of the Government’s most important priorities” (NMoFA 2006: 5) or in the words of Norway’s then Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre even the “most important strategic focus area for the years to come” (quoted in Leira et al. 2007: 29). This script for the Norwegian role in the High North was further consolidated in another strategic document when the government started its second term in office

21 At the end of the 1990s the term ‘nordområdene’ had barely been used. As analyses of Norwegian political discourse show this changed when the frequency of the term’s appearance steeply rose from 2004 (Leira et al. 2007: 29; Jensen and Hønneland 2011). 22 While the High North is not one of the 17 policy fields covered in one chapter each, already the first chapter promises an active High North policy and subsequent chapters elaborate in their respective context. 23 It identifies seven priorities for the High North: the reliable and predictable exercise of sovereign authority, knowledge development, environmental stewardship, petroleum and business development in the High North, the safeguarding of indigenous livelihoods and culture, the development of people-to-people cooperation in the High North, as well as strengthening cooperation with Russia.

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(NMoFA 2009), and another white paper, which served as mid-term review of that government’s High North policy (NMoFA 2011). The larger part of these documents concerns the geopolitics of High North sustainable development—with a domestic and a multilateral dimension. Domestically, the government outlines a strategy for economic development in the North. When compared to previous policies, this growth strategy was less premised on transfer from the South, but saw “activity based on the region’s own resources [as] essential” (NMoFA 2006: 6). Moreover, by contrast to the AC’s earlier vision of small scale utilization strategies for Arctic sustainable development, full-scale industrial development of offshore oil and gas, of marine living resources, and of other marine and maritime industries was promoted. The domestic side was bolstered by multilateral initiatives—for instance but by no means exclusively in the AC, which Norway chaired from 2007–2009. The High North strategy unmistakably states that Norway “will use the chairmanship to gain support for our High North policy” (NMoFA 2006: 15). One particularly consequential example was the strong support of Norway for the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA) and its follow-up. Norwegian waters experienced the most significant increase in Arctic shipping, hence the interest. The AMSA proposed to negotiate circumpolar agreements on Arctic Search and Rescue and Marine Oil Pollution preparedness and response. Regarding the former, Rottem (2013) concludes, that it is pretty much an internationalization of respective Norwegian interests. But this certainly applies to the latter as well. Regarding the organizational effectiveness of the AC, Norway agreed with the subsequent chairmanships of Denmark/Greenland (2009–2011) and Sweden (2011–2013) to locate and leave the Arctic Council Secretariat in Norwegian ‘Arctic capital’ Tromsø throughout the three terms. This tremendously increased the capacity of the Secretariat which so far had rotated. Tromsø was made the permanent location in 2013.24 Moreover, a common framework plan of focus issues for the chairmanships was agreed on. Putting for instance mineral resource extraction on the agenda of the AC, this framework amounted to adapting the AC’s vision of sustainability to the new full-scale industrial development outlook of the Norwegian High North strategy. In the geopolitics of High North sovereignty, Norway further pursued the fixing of the extent and consolidation of its title to sovereign rights in the Arctic seas. The conclusion of bilateral maritime boundary treaties from the 1990s was continued— so far last among these: the 2010 agreement with Russia on the maritime boundary between Russia and Norway in the Barents Sea. This long standing and by many commentators deemed most dangerous unresolved maritime dispute in the Arctic was relatively quickly settled after Norway had signalled willingness to compromise and the Russians accepted (Moe et al. 2011; Hønneland 2011). More consequential for the current situation in the Arctic, however, was the settling of the extended continental shelf in 2009 when the Norwegian submission to the UN Continental Shelf Commission was fully approved. The most significant part of the applied for area connected the Norwegian mainland to Svalbard and according to the law conferred sovereign rights for the exploitation of marine resources on or under the seabed. 24 For

the respective process see Sellheim (2012).


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This move was taken by the Norwegian government to unilaterally settle an old contentious question regarding the Svalbard area. The Spitzbergen Treaty had given Norway full and absolute sovereignty over the treaty area, however, with the qualification that it must not discriminate against nationals of any of the parties to the treaty regarding the rights to resource use. Norway had argued that these provisions of the Spitzbergen Treaty were superseded by the UNCLOS EEZ-regime and thus only applied to territorial waters of the Svalbard archipelago (Pedersen 2006). This would allow Norway to exclude parties of the Spitzbergen Treaty from economic usage of the marine areas beyond the 12-mile territorial zone. That Norway was now granted rights in the Spitzbergen Treaty area by an UNCLOS body seemed to confirm this interpretation, but was met with rather fierce protest from some Treaty parties (cf. Pedersen and Henriksen 2009; Rossi 2015). In the aftermath of the 2007 Russian flag planting on the North Pole seafloor, a further aspect of the geopolitics of High North sovereignty emerged. Concerns for marine territory disputes and marine environmental protection had spurred demands for a comprehensive Arctic Treaty—in parallel to the Antarctic Treaty. Norway sees such a Treaty as potentially curtailing the sovereign rights it is accorded as a coastal state under the Law of the Sea. It therefore took an initiative to discuss matters of sovereignty and stewardship among the five Arctic Ocean coastal states. The initiative was taken up by Denmark, which organized a meeting in Greenlandic Ilulissat (Rahbek-Clemmensen and Thomasen 2018: 18–19). The meeting produced a declaration of the Arctic Five25 in which they confirmed their sovereign rights in the Arctic Ocean, claimed for themselves a leading role as responsible stewards and rejected the necessity for any legal framework beyond the law of the sea (Dodds 2013). While matters of settling sovereign entitlements do not figure prominently in the High North strategy, the strategy’s very first point is the commitment to the “credible, consistent, and predictable” exercise of sovereignty in the High North (NMoFA 2006: 7). When the strategy was written this was mostly directed at Russia. Throughout the early 2000s, violations of the fishery rules in the Barents Sea had increased from the Russian side. The low point was the escape of a Russian Trawler to Russian waters with Norwegian fishery inspectors on board—the so-called Elektron incident in 2005 (cf. Hønneland 2011). The exercise of sovereignty in the vast areas of the Norwegian coastal waters required a massive increase in maritime presence and surveillance. The Norwegian Coast Guard is part of the Navy and thus in the present chapter’s diction respective measures fall under the geopolitics of High North security. Again, security is not a very prominent part of the strategy, but together with defence related documents it establishes the rationale for a re-orientation of the Norwegian Armed Forces towards North. Certainly with a view to the fishery quarrels with Russia, the changed security environment was characterized as potentially giving rise to violations of the Norwegian rights to the exclusive economic use of their resources (cf. NMoD 2008: 30f), while it was also explicitly stated that Russia did not pose any threat to the territorial integrity of Norway (e.g. NMoD 2004: 29–30). What was needed in this situation were capabilities to fulfil three tasks: surveillance of, 25 Norway,

Russia, USA, Canada, and Denmark/Greenland.

Norway’s High North Geopolitics: Continuities and Changes …


intelligence for, and presence in the High North. One result of this re-focusing was the moving of the Norwegian Armed Forces’ operational headquarter to Reitan close to Bodø, and the Coast Guard’s headquarter to Sortland. In the respective literature these very often are taken as an indication of a worsening security situation in the Arctic. However, this does not fully correspond to the impressions the High North Strategy and the related defence policy documents give. For the increased presence, intelligence and surveillance, the re-location of the headquarters makes sense (it would not if an attack on the territory is expected), but the decision for the relocation had a different background. It was taken as part of a further rationalization of the organizational structure of the Armed Forces in order to save costs.26 Among other things this necessitated a decrease in the number of headquarters. Already in 2001 the Ministry of Defence had declared that the administrative and leadership structure of the Armed Forces was too big and too much “spread out” (NMoD 2001: 48). The leadership structure was subsequently thinned and concentrated. In a first step the number of headquarter locations had been reduced already to three (NMoD 2001), then to two—one in the Southern oil capital of Stavanger and the one in Reitan (NMoD 2004: 55). When the further reduction to one required the decision between the two, the increased “significance of the North in the future” counted “not the least” (NMoD 2008: 95) or even primarily (NMoD 2008: 74). However, it is also an open secret that structural support for the Northern peripheries certainly counted.

Changing Conditions and Challenges to the Norwegian High North Geopolitics After 2014 The 2013 general election in Norway brought about a new government. The red-green centre alliance was replaced with a conservative-right minority coalition between Høyre and the far-right progress party (Frp). As Østhagen et al. point out (2018: 171), the new government was met with two key events in 2014. First, the Russian illegal annexation of Crimea and its involvement in the war in Eastern Ukraine. These increasingly became the reference point of a marked turn in the Norwegian geopolitics of High North security. Second, however, the government was also faced with one of the steepest recent drops in the oil and gas price and respective challenges to the Norwegian economy, which in turn affected the geopolitics of High North sustainable development—and, arguably, also the geopolitics of High North sovereignty. These conditions probably would have forced any Norwegian government to recalibrate its High North policies. It is nevertheless worth considering that after the conservative-centre government of the late nineties, the red-green-centre government of 2005–2013, now yet another coalition wrote the respective policy script. The parties of the conservative-right coalition certainly distinguished themselves in emphasis from their predecessors. They have traditionally leaned more to a 26 The re-location to Reitan is estimated to save more than 500 million NOK over the next 20 years,

necessary investments already subtracted (NMoD 2008: 95).


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foreign policy of sovereign rights assertion, more to deterrence and a tougher stance vis-à-vis Russia as a neighbour, and to an economic development less restricted by government regulation (particularly in environmental respect). This certainly moved the recalibration of Norway’s role, envisioned in a government whitepaper (NMoFA 2014) and implemented in a revised High North strategy (Norges Regjering 2017), into a pre-determined direction. Norway followed suit with the sanction-regime vis-à-vis Russia after the Crimea annexation. While common activities with the Russian military were suspended, the extensive bilateral cooperation on environmental protection and nuclear safety, fisheries, as well as on maritime affairs remained in place, as did direct contact between marine sovereignty enforcement agencies. This continuity, however, was accompanied also by marked changes in the orientation of Norwegian defence policy. In previous documents, the government had explicitly emphasized that Russia did not pose a threat to Norwegian territorial integrity in the High North. While the respective phrases are still used in High North strategy documents and rhetoric of the ministry of foreign policy,27 there is—particularly in the defence community —more open referral to growing Russian willingness to engage in risky and more offensive military operations, “also against Norway” (Forsvarsjefen 2019: 14). Examples of such operations include reports of alleged sightings of Russian special forces on Norwegian territory in Finnmark and Svalbard, the alleged jamming by Russia of GPS signals in the Russian-Norwegian border area of Finnmark, as well as encounters with Russian military aircraft close to Norwegian airspace, and increased Russian navy presence and exercises in the Norwegian EEZ. However, it is important to note, that in the security policy scripts this is seen in the context of increasing great power competition in the Arctic. Expectations of a direct threat to the territorial integrity of Norway are thus contingent on the outbreak of hostilities between the great powers and related to Norway being a NATO member. This leads to the return of a military posture akin to the Cold War times: deterrence was added again to High North security policy. This also explains additional attention devoted to territorial defence. Defence procurement was moderately increased and oriented more on a potential threat to territorial integrity in the North (cf. NMoD 2015). Military presence and border surveillance in the North were significantly stepped-up by further enhancing capability of the 2009 re-founded Brigade North. The increasing presence in Finnmark will possibly be extended to battalion strengths. While Norway had long lobbied NATO to become active in the Arctic (Østhagen et al. 2018: 171), now NATO involvement was sought after for the narrower purposes of Norwegian territorial defence in the High North—as practiced in the largest NATO exercise since the end of the Cold War (Trident Juncture), hosted by Norway. Moreover, US marines had already been welcomed earlier to train in Norway on a six months rotating basis. The rotation period now was prolonged, and the number of marines increased. In addition, the Norwegians certainly made a statement, when the NATO parliamentary 27 At the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Northern Norwegian city of Kirkenes from German occupation in October 2019, then Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide for instance explicitly declared that Russia was not perceived as posing a threat to Norway.

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assembly was invited to a seminar on Svalbard. Predictably, the hint was understood by Russia and caused an enraged reaction pointing to the demilitarized status of the archipelago according to the Spitzbergen Treaty. A careful analysis of Russian and Norwegian rhetoric shows, that since 2014 the action-reaction scheme of Cold War politics increasingly spreads also beyond symbolic politics and thus “contaminates” relations in the High North (Wilhelmsen and Gjerde 2018). However, also the geopolitics of High North sustainable development experienced directional change. The oil price decline seems to have created a sense of economic crisis: “The Norwegian economy is in transition and it needs Northern Norway more than ever” (Norges Regjering 2017: 3). The approach for economic growth in the North was thus radicalized with emphasis on infrastructure provision, deregulation and smoothening of planning processes. Offshore oil–and gas-exploration was licenced in areas further North. This also included some offshore marine areas of Svalbard (Rossi 2015). In addition, the Norwegian government gave Norwegian fishermen exclusive catch quotas for snow crab in the Svalbard area (Østhagen and Raspotnik 2019). While extending the economic side of sustainable development, the Norwegian government has sought to keep multilateral environmental regulations affecting their High North waters at bay. In the OSPAR context, Norway flatly rejected a moratorium or specific regulations for oil and gas exploration in OSPAR’s Arctic area, and blocked plans for marine protected areas—arguing in both cases that the more sovereignty sensitive soft-law context of the Arctic Council was the pre-eminent forum for the Arctic and thus desired venue for dealing with these topics. The increasing tensions between economic development and environmental protection in the geopolitics of High North sustainable development has had domestic repercussions primarily. Massive protests had some success to limit exploration close to the biologically sensitive and valuable marine areas North of Lofoten. In 2018, the licensing for exploration and the growth strategy for oil and gas extraction has been the cause for taking the government—albeit unsuccessfully –to court for violating its obligations for climate change prevention.28 The more assertive, and unilateral Norwegian stance regarding the sovereign prerogatives in the Arctic Ocean, particularly in the Svalbard area, has caused international protest and reaction. Predictably, again from Russia, which despite voiced reservations had rather quietly accepted the Norwegian stance in practice as long as no discriminatory utilization of resources in the Svalbard area had been on the table. Now, they saw a grave breach of the Spitzbergen Treaty. More surprising probably was the challenging of the Norwegian move by the EU. Pointing to the Svalbard Treaty obligation for non-discriminatory access to the resources of Svalbard, the EU also issued licences for snow crab to own fishing vessels and thus created some diplomatic upheaval (Raspotnik and Østhagen 2018).

28 The action was taken by Greenpeace together with the Norwegian organization Natur og ungdom.


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Conclusion The chapter presented a brief analysis of three decades of Norwegian High North geopolitics. Throughout these decades there has been certain continuity in the content of the script for Norwegian High North policies. This script is based on the character of Norway as a coastal state, the role assumed being the ‘responsible steward of the Arctic ocean’. As such Norway indeed has been ‘a standard bearer’ of multilateral cooperation for sustainable development in the region which it brought forward with particular regard to marine issues. This was matched by an ever present and increasing commitment to economic growth in the domestic Northern areas—again mostly centred on developing offshore and marine resources and maritime industries. Norway has also maintained intensive bilateral cooperation with Russia on environmental protection, fisheries management, and cross-border people-to-people interaction in the Barents Sea region. At the same time, Norway sought to settle, on the basis of UNCLOS, extent and boundaries of the marine areas in which it has sovereign entitlements. The political emphasis on UNCLOS and the sovereign rights it accords in the marine areas, as well as concern for the exercise and enforcement of respective Norwegian authority have become stronger over time. Changes over the three decades have been most pronounced regarding the geopolitics of High North security. While in the long nineties the successive Norwegian governments were less and less concerned with security in the High North, the first decade of the new millennium saw a return of the geopolitics of security. This was first mostly in respect to the exercise and enforcement of sovereignty and thus explicitly connected to the role of responsible steward. This has changed, however, since 2014. Russian action in the Ukraine led to a further re-evaluation of the security situation and to the taking-up of a more traditional defence centred posture. Yet, there have also been more nuanced but still visible changes in the geopolitics of High North sustainable development. Throughout the three decades, rhetoric on environmental protection remains strong, but it is increasingly countered by a shift of the economic development vision. At the end of the nineties the developmental plan for the North seemed rather centred on small scale natural resource-dependent businesses and local economies supported from the South. This changes with the bold first High North strategy and its successors at the end of the first decade of the new millennium. The documents consolidate a vision for full-scale industrial development in the North. In recent years the High North is conceived of not as a regional economy anymore, but as becoming a driver for national economic growth. Regarding the geopolitics of High North sovereignty, the tension between multilateralism and insistence on sovereign prerogatives has grown. Norway now faces problems resulting from its unilateral pursuance of acquiring sovereign rights over the Svalbard marine areas. It also seems that in light of increasing international interest in the region, Norway actively uses reference to the Law of the Sea or the Arctic Council as a justification to avoid international legal restrictions on its sovereign prerogatives. These developments certainly correspond to changes in the region. But it has been argued throughout the chapter that there also have been domestic contingencies and

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variation in the political calibration of the Norwegian role script. As the third decade of the new millennium starts, challenges in the region can only be expected to grow. Increasingly, rhetoric and practices of great power competition make themselves felt in the Arctic and threaten stability. Meanwhile, the preeminent regional forum, the Arctic Council, probably is in the most difficult phase since its inception. This is mainly due to the neglect of man-made climate change by the US administration and resulting deadlock over the role of climate policies in the Arctic. But the fragile Arctic marine environment is not only threatened by climate change, but also by other consequences of increasing economic activities. Yet, more intensive cooperation on Arctic marine environmental protection seems to be hampered by narrowly conceived sovereign prerogatives. In this situation, a standard bearer of Arctic international cooperation is sorely needed. If the current trajectory of Norwegian High North policies continues, however, it remains to be seen whether the Norwegian government is willing and able to muster the resources and rhetoric to once again take over this role. The respective test will come with its second Arctic Council chairmanship in 2023.

References Axworthy, T. S., & Dean, R. (2013). Changing the arctic paradigm from Cold War to cooperation: How Canada’s indigenous leaders shaped the Arctic Council. The Yearbook of Polar Law, 5, 7–43. Berg, R. (2016). Norsk Utanrikspolitikk etter 1814. Oslo: Det Norske Samlaget. Blunden, M. (2009). The new problem of Arctic stability. Survival, 51(5), 121–142. Dodds, K. (2013). The Ilulissat Declaration (2008): The Arctic states, ‘Law of the Sea’, and Arctic Ocean. SAIS Review of International Affairs, 33(2), 45–55. Ebinger, C. K., & Zambetakis, E. (2009). The geopolitics of Arctic melt. International Affairs, 85(6), 1215–1232. Flikke, G. (2011). Norway and the Arctic: Between multilateral governance and geopolitics. In J. Kraska (Ed.), Arctic security in an age of climate change (pp. 64–84). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Forsvarssjefen.(2019). Et styrket Forsvar. Oslo: Forsvarsjefens Fagmilitære Råd. Gullestad, P., Aglen, A., Bjordal, Å., Blom, G., Johansen, S., Krog, J., et al. (2014). Changing attitudes 1970–2012: Evolution of the Norwegian management framework to prevent overfishing and to secure long-term sustainability. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 71(2), 173–182. Haavisto, P. (2001). Review of the Arctic Council’s structures. Consultant’s study. Helsinki: The Finnish Institute of International Affairs. Hønneland, G. (2014). Norway’s High Arctic policy. In R. W. Murray & A. Dey Nuttal (Eds.), International Relations and the Arctic. Understanding policy and governance (pp. 235–261). Amherst/NY: Cambria Press. Hønneland, G. (2011). Kompromiss als Routine. Russland, Norwegen und die Barentssee. Osteuropa, 61(2–3), 257–270. Humrich, C. (2018). Sustainable development in Arctic international environmental cooperation and the governance of hydrocarbon-related activities. In C. Pelaudeix & E. M. Basse (Eds.), Governance of Arctic offshore oil and gas (pp. 31–46). London: Routledge. Jensen, L. C. (2016). From the High North to the Low South: Bipolar Norway’s Antarctic strategy. The Polar Journal, 6(2), 273–290.


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Jensen, L. C., & Hønneland, G. (2011). Framing the High North: Public discourses in Norway after 2000. Acta Borealia, 28(1), 37–54. Keil, K. (2014). The Arctic—A new region of conflict? the case of oil and gas. Cooperation and Conflict, 49(2), 162–190. Leira, H., Borchgrevink, A., Græger, N., Melchior, A., Stamnes, E., & Øverland, I. (2007). Norske selvbilder og norsk utenrikspolitik. Oslo: Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. Lodgaard, S. (2005). Ny norsk politikk i nord. https://www.nupi.no/nupi_school/HHD-Artikler/ 20082/Ny-norsk-politikk-i-nord. Accessed 20 Jan 2020. Mikkelsen, A., & Langhelle, O. (Eds.). (2008). Arctic oil and gas. Sustainability at risk?. London: Routledge. Moe, A., Fjærtoft, D., & Øverland, I. (2011). Space and timing: Why was the Barents Sea delimitation dispute resolved in 2010? Polar Geography, 34(3), 145–162. NMoD.(2001). Omleggingen av Forsvaret i Perioden 2002–2005. St.prp. nr. 45 (2000-2001). Oslo: Norwegian Ministry of Defence. NMoD.(2004). Den videre Moderniseringen av Forsvaret i perioden 2005–2008. St.prp. nr. 42 (2003–2004). Oslo: Norwegian Ministry of Defence. NMoD.(2008). Et Forsvar til Vern om Norges Sikkerhet, Interesser og Verdier. St.prp. nr. 48 (2007– 2008). Oslo: Norwegian Ministry of Defence. NMoD.(2015). Kampkraft og Bærekraft. Langtidsplan for Forsvarssektoren. St.prop. nr 151S (2015–2016). Oslo: Norwegian Ministry of Defence. NMoFA.(2005). Muligheter og Utfordringer i Nord. St.meld.Nr. 30 (2004–2005). Oslo: Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. NMoFA.(2006). The Norwegian High North Strategy. Oslo: Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. NMoFA.(2009). New Building Blocks in the North. The next Step in the Government’s High North Strategy. Oslo: Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. NMoFA.(2011). The High North. Visions and Strategies. St.meld.Nr. 7 (2011–2012). Oslo: Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. NMoFA.(2014). Nordkloden. Oslo: Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Norges Regjering. (2017). Nordområdestrategi. Mellom geopolitikk of samfunnsutvikling. Oslo: Departemene. NOU.(2000). Et Nytt Forsvar. Norges Offentlige Utredninger 2000:32. Oslo: Statens Fortvaltningstjeneste, Informasjonsforvaltning. NOU.(2003). Mot Nord¡. Utfordringer og Muligheter i Nordområdene. Norges Offentlige Utredninger 2000:32. Oslo: Statens Fortvaltningstjeneste, Informasjonsforvaltning. Nyhamar, T. (2004). Security policies from constraints to choice. In K. Heidar (Ed.), Nordic Politics. Comparative Perspectives (pp. 228–246). Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. Østhagen, A., & Raspotnik, A. (2019). Why is the European Union challenging Norway over snow crab? Svalbard, special interests, and Arctic governance. Ocean Development and International Law, 50(2–3), 190–208. Østhagen, A., Levi Sharp, G., & Sigurd Hilde, P. (2018). At opposite poles: Canada’s and Norway’s approaches to security in the Arctic. The Polar Journal, 8(1), 163–181. Pedersen, T. (2006). The svalbard continental shelf controversy: Legal disputes and political rivalries. Ocean Development and International Law, 37(3–4), 339–358. Pedersen, T., & Henriksen, T. (2009). Svalbard’s maritime zones: The end of legal uncertainty? International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law, 24(1), 141–161. Rahbek-Clemmensen, J. & Thomasen, G. (2018). Learning from the Ilulissat initiative. State power, institutional legitimacy, and governance in the Arctic Ocean 2007–18. Copenhagen: University of Copenhagen/Centre for Military Studies. Rossi, Christopher R. (2015). A unique international problem: The Svalbard Treaty, equal enjoyment, and terra nullius. Washington University Global Studies Law Review, 15(1), 93–136. Rottem, S. V. (2013). The Arctic Council and the Search and Rescue Agreement: The case of Norway. Polar Record, 50(3), 284–292.

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Sellheim, N. (2012). The establishment of the permanent Arctic Council secretariat: Challenges and opportunities. In T. S. Axworthy, T. Koivurova, & W. Hasanat (Eds.), The Arctic council: Its place in the future of Arctic governance (pp. 60–82). Toronto: The Gordon Foundation. Skagestad, O. G.(2010). The ‘High North’: An elastic concept in Norwegian Arctic policy. FNI Report 10/2010, Lysaker: Fridtjof Nansen Institute. Skjærseth, J. B., & Rosendahl, K. G. (1995). Norges miljø-utenrikspolitik. In T. L. Knutsen, G. M. Sørbø, & S. Gjerdåker (Eds.), Norges utentrikspolitikk (pp. 161–180). Oslo: Cappelen Akademisk Forlag. Tamnes, R. (2011). Arctic security and Norway. In J. Kraska (Ed.), Arctic security in an age of climate change (pp. 64–84). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Wilhelmsen, J., & Gjerde, K. L. (2018). Norway and Russia in the Arctic: New cold war contamination? Arctic Review on Law and Politics, 9, 382–407. Young, O. R. (1998). Creating regimes. Arctic accords and international governance. Ithaca/NY: Cornell University Press.

Christoph Humrich is Assistant Professor for International Relations and Security Studies at the Department for International Relations and International Organizations, and Associated Researcher at the Arctic Centre, both at the Faculty of Arts, University of Groningen, The Netherlands. His current research interests are on Arctic security, Arctic international relations, and Arctic governance. Present projects deal with the adaptation of Arctic states’ coast guards to changes in the Arctic Ocean, and the politics of marine protected areas in the Arctic. He currently serves as co-chair of the Thematic Group on Polar and Marine Politics of the German Political Science Association.

The Middleman—The Driving Forces Behind Denmark’s Arctic Policy Jon Rahbek-Clemmensen and Line Jedig Nielsen

Introduction In August 2019, news that President Trump was considering an offer to buy Greenland, a semi-autonomous island within the Kingdom of Denmark with some 57,000 inhabitants, stunned the world (Salama et al. 2019). The offer was quickly rejected by the Danish Prime Minister, who called it “absurd” and stated that “Greenland is not for sale. Greenland is not Danish. Greenland belongs to Greenland.” (Anderson 2019). This sentiment was echoed by the Greenlandic Prime Minister, who stated that the island was “not for sale” (Associated Press 2019). The swift Danish rejection of the American offer was puzzling. Denmark has for long been one of the United States’ strongest allies among the European states, and Copenhagen has gone far to participate in American military operations and support American strategic objectives over the past decades. Why were the Danes now risking a diplomatic crisis with perhaps their most important ally? This chapter seeks to unpack the strategic rationale behind Denmark’s Arctic policy by examining its development since the onset of the Second World War. The existing literature on Denmark’s Arctic policy has already argued that Denmark tries to use the Arctic and Greenland to strengthen its relationship with the United States, but that Greenland’s increased autonomy and the constitutional arrangement within the Kingdom of Denmark have come to shape Danish policy as well (Archer 2003; Kristensen 2005; Rahbek-Clemmensen 2014; Henriksen and Rahbek-Clemmensen 2017; Ackrén and Jakobsen 2015; Jacobsen 2016; Rahbek-Clemmensen forthcoming). The present chapter tries to analyze Danish Arctic policy through a review of the existing literature to examine the importance of Denmark’s relationship to the two other parties. To what extent can Danish Arctic policy be explained by Denmark’s need to maintain good relations with the United States and Greenland? Will J. Rahbek-Clemmensen (B) · L. J. Nielsen Royal Danish Military Academy, Copenhagen, Denmark e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 J. Weber (ed.), Handbook on Geopolitics and Security in the Arctic, Frontiers in International Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-45005-2_5



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Danish Arctic policy undergo continuation or change in coming years? The chapter argues that while the relationship to the United States and Greenland is perhaps the most important factor shaping Danish policy, other factors, such as the institutional set-up in the Arctic, also influence how Denmark designs its Arctic policy. Given that the United States seems to be turning towards a more military-oriented approach to the Arctic that emphasizes great power competition with other great powers, Danish Arctic policy might face new challenges that differ from the pattern of the past decades. The chapter progresses in three steps. Before we can analyze the United States and Greenland’s impact on Danish Arctic policy, we must understand how these two parties have tried to influence Danish Arctic policy. This is done in the first two sections. The final section examines the Danish angle, showing that Denmark’s Arctic policy has responded to American and Greenlandic changing interests, but that other factors, such as institutional changes in regional politics, have also had an impact on the Danish approach.

American Security Interests in Greenland The first step in our analysis is to map how and why the United States has been involved in Greenland since the onset of the Second World War. The United States’ interests in Greenland have historically been driven by military concerns related to the relationship with the other great powers and the island’s geopolitically important location between North America, Northern Europe, and Asia (Rahbek-Clemmensen 2019). Although American politicians and entrepreneurs were interested in Greenland in the late nineteenth century and in the early twentieth century, and several unsuccessful attempts were made to buy the island from Denmark, it was only when pressing military concerns arose with the onset of the Second World War that the United States got a significant presence on the island (Lidegaard 1996; Petersen 2013). Germany’s occupation of Denmark in May 1940 meant that Greenland became a vulnerable northern flank for the United States, as German forces could use the island as a stepping-stone for operations against North America and for the construction of militarily important weather stations. Greenland was also important to the United States because of its Ivigtut mine that held economically feasible deposits of cryolite needed in the production of airplanes (Lidegaard 1996; Berry 2012). Washington consequently decided to take control of the island by striking a deal with the Danish Ambassador to the United States, Henrik Kaufmann, in April 1941, without the consent of the Danish government (Lidegaard 1996; Danish Institute for International Affairs 1997). The Agreement for the Defense of Greenland granted the US de facto control of Greenland and endowed the US with extensive rights to the use of Greenlandic territory for military purposes. The Agreement stressed the geostrategic importance of Greenland as the island became ‘essential to the preservation of the

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peace and security of the American continent’ (Defense of Greenland 1941) and resulted in 17 defense installations by the end of the war (Petersen 2011: 95). During the Cold War, the US had a major interest in keeping its basing rights and extending its access to other parts of Greenland due to the expectation that a war between the US and the Soviet Union was likely to involve the polar area. Military bases in Greenland and Iceland served several military purposes and were therefore vital in the deterrence of the Soviet Union. In 1946, US bases in Greenland were categorized among the six bases of ‘outstanding importance’ to US security and, in the following years, top US military planners described the island as ‘a major bastion of U.S. defense’ (Danish Institute for International Affairs 1997). In the beginning of the Cold War, when? strategic bombers were the main delivery vehicle for nuclear weapons, Greenland was used as a staging-base for American bombers due to the short distances to the Soviet Union. Technological innovation meant that intercontinental missiles came to replace bombers as the main delivery vehicle and Greenland lost its offensive potential. Instead, the island came to serve a defensive purpose as radars in Greenland became an important node in the American early warning system (Danish Institute for International Affairs 1997). The end of the Cold War meant that the United States’ Arctic priorities changed from military security to low politics issues and regional institution-building. In the absence of global military tensions, the polar region in general became less militarily important for the United States, as the danger of a cross-polar nuclear attack was lessened significantly. During the 1990s and the early 2000s, the United States generally focused on other military priorities, including the enlargement of NATO with several former Warsaw Pact countries in Eastern Europe and the new terrorist threat coming out of the Middle East. In the absence of a direct cross-Arctic military threat, Greenland lost its importance to the United States in the post-Cold War era. One exception to this pattern was the Bush administration’s emphasis of missile defense in the early 2000s, which also required an upgrade of the radar installations in Thule. Thus, in December 2002, Washington made a formal request to the Danish government, asking for permission to upgrade the radar system in Thule. After lengthy negotiations, Denmark, Greenland, and the United States agreed to the 2004 Igaliku Agreement, which gave the United States permission to upgrade the radar installations. The agreement also specified that Thule was the only defense area in Greenland that would be in use and an American commitment to inform Denmark and Greenland of any changes in its operations (though without granting the latter parties any formal co-determination) (Petersen 2008: 6–9). The agreement also involved the creation of the Joint Committee, a deliberative body in which Denmark, Greenland, and the United States could discuss avenues for cooperation in areas such as health care, education, and business-to-business collaboration. This committee should be seen as an attempt to compensate the Greenlanders for the American presence through initiatives that could have a concrete impact on Greenlandic society (Kristensen 2005). Since around 2016, the American approach to the Arctic has begun to change once again as global geopolitical and diplomatic competition with Russia and China became new focal points for American grand strategy. This emphasis of great


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power competition colored how the United States has viewed the Arctic, where regional competition with China and Russia and a general fear of Chinese and Russian encroachments have become paramount. For instance, the 2019 Department of Defense Arctic Strategy distinguished itself from earlier Arctic defense strategies by highlighting the Arctic as “a potential avenue for expanded great power competition and aggression” and arguing that “U.S. interests include maintaining flexibility for global power projection, including by ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight; and limiting the ability of China and Russia to leverage the region as a corridor for competition that advances their strategic objectives through malign or coercive behavior” (Department of Defense 2019: 5; Department of Defense 2016; Rodman 2019). The strategy also highlighted that while Russia’s main strength was its military presence in the region, which it had been expanding since the late 2000s, China’s main strength was “its presence through economic outreach, investments in Arctic states’ strategic sectors, and scientific activities”, including “dual-use infrastructure”, which the strategy highlighted could reflect deeper-lying geostrategic interests (Department of Defense 2019: 4–5). The new American emphasis on geostrategic competition with China and Russia in the Arctic has meant that Greenland will once again become more important for US regional interests. Chinese companies have been investing in Greenland over the past decade, especially in the mining sector, and the Chinese government has tried to establish scientific presence by applying to establish a satellite receiver station on the island. In 2018, China Communication Construction Company, a construction company owned by the Chinese state, bid for the contract to construct some of Greenland’s new airports. In that sense, in Greenland one can see the exact economic and scientific activities about which the American Department of Defense Strategy warned in its Arctic Defense Strategy. These activities are arguably problematic for the United States for two reasons. First, Chinese commercial and scientific activities can potentially involve the establishment of dual use infrastructure in Greenland, such as harbors or landing strips, which can be used by the Chinese military for future operations in the Arctic. A Chinese mine can for instance require an adjacent harbor, which can come to serve as a refueling station for the Chinese navy. Second, even minor Chinese investments in Greenland will make up a significant part of the small Greenlandic economy, which can be used as leverage by the Chinese government to complicate the American presence on the island (Rahbek-Clemmensen 2019; Berbrick and Pincus 2018). The United States has made several initiatives to secure its position in Greenland by creating incentives for Denmark and Greenland to cooperate closely with the United States. Such investments can serve several purposes, as they will allow the United States to ensure that the Greenlandic airports will have the required facilities for American aircraft, including fighters to protect the Thule Air Base, while simultaneously giving the Greenlandic Self-Rule government an incentive to cooperate more closely with the United States and eschew Chinese overtures. For example, in the spring of 2018, then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis reportedly warned his Danish counterpart against large Chinese infrastructure investments in Greenland (Breum 2018).

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At the same time, the increased Russian military presence in the region has also created several military challenges for the United States in Greenland. First, Russia is currently constructing the Nagurskoye base in Franz Josef Land in the Russian Arctic. Once completed, the base can be used by Russian combat aircraft to attack the base in Thule, thus weakening the American missile defense and early warning system. Countering this threat could entail establishing better radar coverage in Northern Greenland, supplemented with defensive systems such as surface-to-air missiles in Thule or stationing American fighters in Greenland. The latter option will require engagement with Denmark and Greenland, as some of the Greenlandic airports in that case would need upgrades and renovation (Rahbek-Clemmensen 2019; Danish Defense Intelligence Service 2018). Second, the United States fears that Russia will be using its Arctic-based submarine fleet to threaten Sea-Lines of Communication (SLOC) in the North Atlantic in the event of a great power confrontation (Hamre and Conley 2017). To counter this threat, the United States and several of its allies have therefore been bolstering their presence with Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capabilities in the North Atlantic, especially in the seas between Greenland, Iceland, and the United Kingdom, the so-called Greenland-Iceland-United-Kingdom (GIUK) gap, which make up a choke point for submarines between the Arctic and North Atlantic. Greenland can be useful for the Western ASW efforts. Although Keflavik in Iceland is likely to be the main aerial hub for Maritime Patrol Aircraft, Greenlandic airports can be used as an additional base for anti-submarine patrols. For instance, in the fall of 2018, the United States announced that it would “pursue potential strategic investments” in Greenland and it highlighted “the airports infrastructure in Greenland, including projects that may have dual civilian and military benefits” as a potential target for these investments (Turnowsky 2018). Similarly, the United States may be interested in using the Greenlandic waters and coastline for submarine listening systems akin to the Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS) used during the Cold War (Stashwick 2016). Greenland could also be used for a new American strategic port in the Arctic (Rahbek-Clemmensen 2019). In sum, the United States’ geopolitical interests in Greenland have historically followed the degree of regional and global competition with other great powers. When the United States competes militarily with other great powers, the United States often comes to value its militarily important location between North America, Asia, and Europe. As the United States once again seems to perceive the Arctic as a region defined by strategic competition between the great powers, Greenland is once again gaining importance on the American security agenda.

Greenland: Increased Autonomy Having mapped how and why the United States has been involved in Greenland, we must then turn to how Greenland has come to influence Danish Arctic policy (for


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longer analyses of Greenland’s impact on Danish policy, see also Archer 2003; Ackren and Jakobsen 2015; Jacobsen 2016; Rahbek-Clemmensen, forthcoming). While the American interest in Greenland has been driven by military security challenges facing North America, Greenland’s own perspective on the geopolitics of the island has been shaped by its successful efforts to gain enhanced autonomy and sovereignty. During the Second World War and the early Cold War, several global and local developments changed Greenland significantly. First, the American presence and the isolation from Denmark proper during the Second World War created an increased awareness of the possibility of being self-sustaining and an increased interest in global matters among Greenlandic elites (Heinrich 2017: 32–33). Second, the global wave of decolonization that followed the war also put pressure on Denmark to change its colonial policy. Greenland was decolonized in 1953, where it became a Danish county with a representation in parliament (Beukel et al. 2010). Third, Denmark initiated a modernization effort that aimed to transform Greenland into a modern welfare state modelled after Denmark proper, which involved increased Danish language training and general urbanization. The overall goals of enhanced modernization and increased integration of Greenland into Denmark proper gained support from Greenlandic elites who saw it as an opportunity to gain greater equality between Greenlanders and Danes. The Greenlandic elites believed that if the population generally became better educated and more proficient in Danish, which remained the language of business and public administration, they could begin to occupy leadership positions in Greenlandic society and the official rationales for treating Greenlanders and Danes differently would disappear (Heinrich 2012; Rud 2017: 123). Fourth, American activities also had a direct impact on Greenlandic society, as illustrated by three examples. In the early 1950s, local communities were moved from their hunting grounds and moved more than 100 km to temporary settlements with only a few days’ notice to make room for the construction of the American Thule Air Base (Christensen and Kristensen 2009). Similarly, an American B-52 bomber crash in 1968 spread radioactive contamination over parts of the Thule area. The workers who cleaned up after the crash were particularly exposed to the radiation and consequently suffered significant health problems. The local population was less exposed and it is debated whether the crash had implications for their health (Danish Institute for International Affairs 1997; Juel et al. 2005). Finally, American experiments with building a nuclear-powered research station (Camp Century) under the ice near Thule also involved storing chemicals and low-radiation water under the ice. Although these hazardous materials have yet to surface again, they could potentially create an environmental problem when climate change and shifting ice could expose them of their glacial storage (Nielsen 2016; Nielsen and Nielsen 2016). In the latter half of the Cold War, beginning in the 1960s, younger Greenlandic elites turned against the Danish-led modernization and integration program, which some there was the sense that colonial structures were still in place, which allowed Danish cultural and political superiority to prevail (Heinrich 2017: 33–35; Rud 2017: 122–26). Dissatisfaction with the Danish decision to join the European Community (EC) in 1973 also spurred the Greenlanders to push for autonomy. In 1979, Greenland

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was granted Home Rule, which gave the new Greenlandic government autonomy to decide within certain low politics issue areas. The Danish government would pay a large annual subsidy to help finance the Greenlandic welfare state. In 1982, a referendum showed a vast majority for leaving the EC and in 1985 Greenland became the first country to leave the Community. Having achieved Home Rule, forces within Greenlandic society continued to push for additional autonomy, including greater influence over foreign and security policy matters (Archer 2003; Gad 2017). This push got additional momentum after the end of the Cold War, where several of the abovementioned examples of maltreatment of Greenlanders by the Danes and the Americans became the topic of public debate. Around the turn of the millennium, the Greenlandic government got two opportunities to gain more autonomy. First, the abovementioned Thule radar upgrade negotiations in the early ‘00s were also an opportunity for Greenland to gain a voice in foreign affairs. Greenlandic politicians argued publicly that Greenland was entitled to be included in decisions regarding the American presence on the island and that Greenland was owed compensation for that presence. As explained above, this pressure yielded results, as the 2004 Igaliku Agreement led to Greenland getting more of a say over foreign and security policy issues as well as the establishment of the Joint Committee. The second opportunity came when the Greenlandic government formed an independence commission around the turn of the millennium. The Danish government came to realize that it would be better to have a say in a possible Greenlandic independence process and Denmark and Greenland therefore created a joint DanishGreenlandic commission in 2004 that would work towards drafting a new set-up for Greenlandic autonomy (Greenlandic-Danish Self-Goverment Commission 2008: 11–14). The joint commission’s report was published in 2008 and was fed into the process of creating a new legal framework for relations between Denmark and Greenland. The Self-Government Act of 2009 specified that the Greenland “constitute a people under international law with a right to self-determination” (our translation, JRC & LJN) and created a process through which the Greenlandic government could take control of specific issue-areas as long as it could cover the expenses associated with it. For instance, the Greenlandic government immediately took control of the resource policy area, which was deeming important for the efforts to move towards real independence. Denmark retained control over the remaining issue-areas, including certain areas of which Greenland cannot gain control, most importantly foreign, security, and defense policy issues. Not all foreign policy issues are controlled by Denmark, however, as the Self Rule Act gave Greenland formal control over foreign policy issues “that only concern Greenland” (Self-Government Act 2009, article 12, our translation, JRC and LJN). The Act also locked the subsidy from Denmark at its 2009 level (adjusted for inflation) and it specified how future revenues from resources would be divided between Denmark and Greenland. The first DKK 75 million in 2009 prices (roughly USD 12 million) will go directly to the Greenlandic government, while amounts over that threshold will be shared between Greenland and Denmark with the Danish amount being deducted from the annual subsidy to Greenland. Denmark and Greenland will


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initiate negotiations about their future economic relations once the entire Danish subsidy is covered by resource revenues (Self-Government Act 2009). It seems reasonable to assume that Greenland would move towards declaring its independence around that time. While the Self-Government Act created a relatively clear framework for future relations between Denmark and Greenland in some respects, the division of labor between the two parties regarding foreign, security, and defense policy issues remains somewhat imprecise. The nub of the matter is the unclear dividing line between issues over which Greenland has taken control and foreign, security, and defense policy issues. For instance, if a Chinese company wants to invest in a Greenlandic mine, would it then be a resource policy issue (and thus within Greenland’s purview) or would it be a foreign and security policy issue, as it would have repercussions for the Kingdom’s relationship with the United States? Seeking enhanced sovereignty and autonomy, Greenland has obviously preferred the former interpretation, while Denmark has touted the latter (Rahbek-Clemmensen 2020). This lack of clarity has caused tensions between Copenhagen and Nuuk several times since the passing of the Self Rule Act over issues such as uranium mining, Chinese investments in mining, and the aforementioned airport construction debate. The combination of the formal rights defined in the Self-Government Act, the right to consultation that was defined in the Igaliku Agreement, and the unclear dividing lines between issues means that Greenland de facto has a voice over some geopolitical issues and that many foreign, security, and defense issues involves triangular talks between Denmark, Greenland, and the United States. These developments have had several implications for how Greenland sees its own geopolitics. Having achieved a roadmap to independence as well as some influence over its own foreign, security, and defense policy, Greenland now has an interest in exploiting its geopolitical resources as well as an opportunity to gain access to these benefits. For instance, if significant quantities of oil and gas were found in Greenland, the Self Rule Act allows the Greenlandic government to reap a very substantial share of the potential revenues. These revenues would be sorely needed by the Greenlandic government as its economy faces long-term structural instabilities and it needs new additional revenue streams to finance the dream of actual independence (Economic Council of Greenland 2016: 26). Greenland also sees an opportunity in gaining access to the political, societal, and economic benefits that follow from the American presence on the island. While the American presence was historically something that happened to the Greenlanders with occasional tragic repercussions for local groups such as the communities in Thule, Greenland can now benefit both economically and politically from it and it has gained substantial agency in the discussions with Denmark and the United States. As will be outlined in greater details below, Denmark has historically tried to use the American presence to gain political benefits (what has colloquially been referred to as “playing the Greenland Card” (Henriksen and Rahbek-Clemmensen 2017)). Greenland has also been able to gain certain side-payments from the United States, including lucrative contracts for local companies and formal agreements to enhance cooperation on non-security matters in forums such as the Joint Committee.

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With Greenland’s enhanced influence over geopolitical affairs, these opportunities have increased significantly as Greenland can also strive to gain additional economic benefits as well as political representation in meetings with foreign entities. This can in turn cause tensions between Denmark and Greenland as the two parties will disagree about how big a share of the economic and political benefits Greenland is entitled to receive. For instance, Greenlandic voices have already criticized Denmark for not allowing Greenland to partake in discussions with the American president at the 2019 NATO Leaders Meeting in London (Kongstad and Maressa 2019). In sum, Greenland’s increased autonomy and sovereignty have changed how Greenlandic society approaches to its own geopolitics. The Greenlanders are no longer mainly the victims of international politics, they have become actors in their own right with an ability to influence decision-making and extract some of the benefits of their own geopolitical importance. Due to their interest in independence and economic sustainability, they also have a stake in exploiting these geopolitical resources, although there is some internal debate about these matters.

Danish Arctic Policy Having outlined how the United States and the Greenlandic local government view Greenland, we can now turn to how Denmark’s Arctic policy has sought to navigate its relationship with these two parties. Denmark’s relationship to the United States and Greenland play a large role in shaping Danish Arctic policy, as Denmark finds itself as an intermediary that tries to facilitate American and Greenlandic interests to maintain the status quo. When dealing with the United States, Denmark seeks to accommodate American interests in Greenland to strengthen the bond with Washington and gain political side-payments, but at the same time Denmark also needs to ensure that the United States does not “take the whole hand” and acts in ways that are in conflict with Danish sovereignty on the island. When dealing with Greenland, Denmark needs to ensure that Nuuk gains enough advantages from the current situation for it to stay within the current set-up, but at the same time Copenhagen cannot allow Greenland to gain all the advantages or to stray outside of the constitutional confines that defines the Kingdom of Denmark. At the same time, however, the relationship to Washington and Nuuk are not the only factors shaping Danish policy. The institutional set-up in the Arctic, which essentially came into being after the end of the Cold War, has also influenced the Danish approach to the region. Before the Second World War truly brought Greenland into the American orbit, Danish control and sovereignty over Greenland had already been contested for centuries. Inhabited by different Inuit tribes for millennia, the first European settlers in Greenland were Norwegian-Icelandic Vikings who came to the island in the tenth century. The island was under the Norwegian crown when Norway and Denmark formed a dual monarchy in the thirteenth century. Different Inuit tribes immigrated to the island from what is now Canada during this period. The European settlers disappeared in the fifteenth century and the Inuit had the island to themselves until


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1721, when Danish-Norwegian missionaries and traders reestablished a presence on the island. Denmark kept Greenland when the dual monarchy was abolished with the Treaty of Kiel in the wake of the Napoleonic wars. A Norwegian claim to eastern Greenland was defeated at the international court in 1933, as Denmark could make the case that it had a significant presence even on the eastern shores of the island. Since then, a Danish ranger unit—the Sirius Patrol—has operated in the area to demonstrate a Danish presence (Gad 1967). After Denmark was occupied by Germany in 1940, Denmark’s renegade ambassador to Washington Henrik Kauffman used the American interest in Greenland to gain recognition as a legitimate representative for Denmark. The Danish government originally refused to acknowledge the agreement as it did not consider Kaufmann its legitimate representative and it feared that an American presence in Greenland would undermine its sovereignty over the island. However, as the tide of the war turned, Copenhagen changed its course as the agreement could be seen as a Danish contribution to the Allied effort and be used as an argument for the Danish government to claim status as an Allied power (Lidegaard 1996). The price for this change of course was a tacit recognition of the American presence in Greenland that would continue to challenge Danish sovereignty over the island during the Cold War. The Agreement’s Article X specified that the agreement could only be terminated when it was agreed that present dangers to the American continent had seized to exist and Washington argued that the Soviet Union posed such a threat. The United States were in Greenland to stay and it would be difficult for Denmark to push the Americans out without hurting American-Danish relations (Lidegaard 1996). The establishment of NATO in 1949 helped alleviate some of the Danish concerns about the American presence in Greenland. Denmark initially expected that NATO membership would lead to a multilateral protection of Greenland, thereby replacing the bilateral agreement with the US. However, in the end, the agreement remained bilateral, but the American administration still believed that Denmark’s NATO membership still meant that Danish worries about the American presence in Greenland was lessened. Denmark was now covered by American security guarantees and Greenland could become a bargaining chip in talks about the Danish contribution to NATO. It now became easier for Denmark to accept the American presence in Greenland, because Denmark could indirectly be compensated for this presence insofar as the United States was willing to tacitly accept Danish free-riding in other domains. The Danish foreign policy establishment referred to this dynamic as “playing the Greenland Card”. Although the historical record does not provide clear evidence that Denmark actually got clear concessions due to Greenland, both Danish and American policymakers viewed Greenland as a bargaining chip in these talks (Villaume 1997; Ringsmose 2008: 147, 229–34, 242, 251–53; Danish Institute for International Affairs 1997; Petersen 2011; Lidegaard 1996: 578–88). The American presence in Greenland was formalized in a new agreement for the defense of Greenland in 1951 in which the permanent presence of the US military in Greenland was recognized. In practice this meant that Denmark had de jure sovereignty over the island, whereas the American military could act as it saw fit as long as it refrained from

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interfering with Greenlandic society (Kristensen and Rahbek-Clemmensen 2018: 4–5). The flip-side of the new setup was that the United States needed to have more or less free hands to pursue its military policies in Greenland, which posed several challenges for the Danish government. First, while Greenland had not yet become an independent actor in this period, the Danish government was still concerned about the impact that the American presence could have on Greenlandic society. Copenhagen therefore tried to limit the contact between American troops and local communities (Danish Institute for International Affairs 1997). To be sure, the Danish care for the Greenlanders had its limits. For instance, it did not prevent Denmark from moving the people of the Thule area from their hunting grounds to make room for the American base in the 1950s. Second, the American activities also at times contradicted Danish government policies. For instance, it became official Danish policy in the 1950s that Denmark would not permit the stationing of nuclear weapons in Denmark in peacetime— a policy that was contradicted by the fact that Danish government simultaneously accepted that the American forces in Greenland had nuclear weapons and that American bombers secretly patrolled armed with nuclear weapons over Greenland. This policy was exposed when an American B-52 with four hydrogen bombs on board crashed in Thule in 1968, embarrassing the government in Copenhagen that had to deny knowledge of the American activities. The full picture of the American presence in Greenland and the Danish government’s knowledge of these activities only saw the light of day in the 1990s (Danish Institute for International Affairs 1997). Third, the American presence also occasionally caused problems for Denmark’s relationship to the Soviet Union. The Danish promise to refrain from stationing nuclear weapons on Danish soil was part of a wider de-escalation policy vis-à-vis the USSR that also included official assurances to Moscow that Danish territory would not be used in an attack on a foreign nation. Greenland contradicted these attempts to reassure the Soviets, as the American presence here clearly had an offensive potential, at least in the early years of the Cold War. Moscow used that contradiction to put pressure on Denmark, for instance in a diplomatic letter from March 1957 that highlighted that “in reality an immense share of Danish territory—Greenland—has already been turned into a military base for the United States” 1 . The end of the Cold War fundamentally changed Denmark’s approach to Greenland. As Greenland stopped being a military priority for the United States, the Danish interest in Greenlandic matters also diminished throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. Instead, Denmark tried to strengthen its ties with the United States by punching above its weight in other regions, most importantly in the American-led wars in Central Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa (Mouritzen 2007; Ringsmose and Rynning 2008). Greenland and the Arctic became lower tier priorities (Henriksen and RahbekClemmensen 2017). Greenland became a low-priority issue-area covered by a few specialists within the ministries in Copenhagen. 1 Danish Institute for International Affairs 1997: 407–21, quote is on p. 409, our translation, JRC &



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The post-Cold War period also saw the development of the third factor that shapes Denmark’s Arctic policy: the establishment of regional institutions, including the Arctic Council. It had become obvious that the region faced cross-boundary low politics challenges, such as air and sea pollution, climate change, economic development, and the conditions for local communities. Many of these issues were best addressed in a multilateral setting and the Arctic states became involved in the creation of several new regional forums, including the Arctic Council (Keskitalo 2004; English 2013; Nord 2015). Denmark partook in this development. For instance, in this period, Danish scientists began exploring the continental shelf north of Greenland with the objective of submitting a Danish-Greenlandic claim to continental shelf under the rules and procedures outlined in international law. However, in spite of such initiatives, Copenhagen’s overall dedication to the regional affairs was limited. Tellingly, the Danish minister for foreign affairs did not participate in the Arctic Council’s founding meeting. In the first decade of the Council’s life, the minister only partook in one of six ministerials, most often allowing the Greenlandic premier the honor of representing the Kingdom of Denmark (Rahbek-Clemmensen 2017). The late 2000s saw a significant change in northern politics, as global audiences became aware of the impact that climate change would have on the Arctic, opening the region to increased human activities, including new sea lanes and exploitation of natural resources. This increase in interest was driven by several factors, including a significantly smaller sea ice-cover, the publication of several studies of the impact of climate change and the possibility of finding resources in the Arctic, as well as a media stunt by a Russian scientific expedition that planted a Russian tricolor on the North Pole seabed (Rahbek-Clemmensen and Thomasen 2018). This increased global interest in Arctic matters in the end of the 2000s meant that Denmark steadily began to prioritize northern affairs again from around 2007. However, the Danish involvement differed from the Cold War period. Denmark now emphasized participating and influencing multinational regional institutions, such as the Arctic Council, that addressed region-wide issues, rather than focusing on its bilateral relationships with Greenland and the United States. One could say that Denmark’s northern policies underwent an “Arctic turn”, where a narrow focus on Greenland was replaced by a wider focus on the Arctic as such (Rahbek-Clemmensen 2017). The Arctic turn was arguably driven by the American view of the region, which continued focus on regional institutions rather than military issues and Washington was not interested in Greenlandic affairs. It therefore made sense for Denmark to have a regional perspective that focused on diplomatic cooperation rather than a narrower, Greenland-centric approach that emphasized military issues. Like the other Arctic countries at the time, Denmark believed that security tensions in the region could be avoided through proactive diplomacy that emphasized their common interest in handling the practical low-politics challenges they faced, as well as their shared dedication to cooperation in regional institutions based on international law. In the years following 2007, Denmark helped spearhead several regional governance initiatives. Perhaps the most important of these was the 2008 Ilulissat meeting, a joint Danish-Greenlandic initiative that resulted in the Ilulissat Declaration in which the five coastal states (Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and

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the United States) agreed to cooperate peacefully about low politics issues including the delimitation of the continental shelf in accordance with international law (Rahbek-Clemmensen and Thomasen 2018; Petersen 2009). The new American interest in Arctic security in general and military involvement in Greenland around the end of the 2010s, has posed new opportunities and challenges for Denmark. An increased American interest in Greenland gives Denmark a new arena for forging stronger relations with the United States, to once again “play the Greenland Card” so to speak. This was indeed the case at the 2019 NATO Leaders’ Meeting in London, where Denmark tried to preempt American criticism for its low defense budget (which is scheduled to reach 1.5 percent of GDP in 2023, well below the 2 percent threshold highlighted in the 2014 Wales Declaration) by announcing a substantial increase in the defense budget in Greenland. The underlying logic behind this initiative resembled that of the Cold War: by demonstrating that Denmark delivers security outputs, such as the American access to Greenland, Copenhagen hopes to shield itself from American criticism regarding its small security input (its defense budget). However, the American interest also comes with at least three challenges (RahbekClemmensen 2020). First, the old challenge of finding a balance between facilitating American interests on the island and maintaining Danish sovereignty will likely resurface. Based on the Cold War experiences, Danish policymakers may fear that Denmark will struggle to control the American activities in Greenland and it may occasionally find itself in situations where the United States wants to pursue activities that can undermine its sovereignty on the island. However, the current situation is arguably more complicated than the Cold War. The fact that Greenland has gained increased autonomy and a roadmap to independence and has become a party in the talks with the United States means that Denmark now has to worry about being cut out of deliberations regarding Greenland by an American-Greenlandic alliance. President Trump’s offer to buy Greenland could be seen as an attempt by the United States to circumvent the traditional way of conducting talks about Greenland. In the months following the president’s offer, Danish media have reported about potential bilateral contacts between Greenland and the United States and Danish policymakers have criticized what they see as a deliberate circumvention of Denmark (Mouritzen 2019; Mouritzen and Kruse 2019). Even if these stories may be based on pure speculation, they betray concerns that are at least present, if not prevalent, in Danish policymaking circles. Second, Denmark needs to find a balance between protecting Arctic cooperation in regional institutions, including its bilateral relationship with Russia, and facilitating American interests. The Trump administration has been vocal in its criticism of China and Russia in the Arctic Council, thus demonstrating a less significant dedication to these institutions than has previously been seen from the United States (Pompeo 2019). This poses a dilemma for the Danish approach to Arctic governance, which has previously emphasized the importance of maintaining peaceful cooperation in regional institutions. Should Copenhagen try to maintain cooperation in for instance the Arctic Council or should the Danes try to move closer to the American line?


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Third, as mentioned in the Greenland subsection, it is very likely that Denmark and Greenland will disagree about how to share the benefits that follow from the American presence. Danish and Greenlandic policymakers previously disagreed about the “value” of the Greenland Card, as the Danes downplayed its value, while the Greenlanders argued that it was much more valuable than the Danes let know, thus implying that the Danes were hogging the bulk of the benefits accrued from the American presence (Henriksen and Rahbek-Clemmensen 2017). Fundamentally, the Kingdom of Denmark’s Arctic diplomacy fundamentally depends on mutual trust between Copenhagen and Nuuk. Denmark can only charge a coherent and long-term course, if Greenlandic policymakers do not undercut its efforts by constantly criticizing the Danish efforts or circumventing the Danes in the talks with the United States. At the same time, the Greenlanders need to trust that the Danes have their best interests at heart and that the Danes are indeed sharing the benefits from the American presence equally. In order to gain that trust, the Danish government has attempted to increase the sharing of information with the Greenlandic government and the inclusion of Greenlandic policymakers in meetings with foreign leaders and policymaking processes. In sum, Denmark’s Arctic policy is driven by its role as an intermediary between the United States and Greenland, as well as the institutional set-up in the Arctic more generally speaking. Historically, Denmark primarily had to deal with the United States, and Copenhagen could use the island strategically to strengthen its relationship with Washington. Greenland’s increased autonomy, including informal influence over foreign, security, and defense policy, and the new regional forums and institutions that have come into being have also come to shape Danish Arctic policy, especially after the end of the Cold War.

Conclusion This chapter sought out to examine to what extent Denmark’s Arctic policy is driven by its relationship with the United States and Greenland. It showed that while these relationships are perhaps the most important driving forces behind Danish policy, it has also been influenced by other factors, such as the new forums and institutions that evolved especially after the end of the Cold War. Danish Arctic policy has developed in four phases as these factors changed. First, during the Second World War and the Cold War, Denmark’s main priority was to use Greenland to maintain a good bilateral relationship with the United States. Greenland began to gain enhanced autonomy in the latter part of the Cold War, but it had little impact on the relationship with the United States. The end of the Cold War resulted in a second phase, as the United States lost interest in Arctic security, while several regional institutions were created to respond to low politics challenges, such as environmental problems. In this phase, Denmark participated in regional diplomacy, albeit only haphazardly, and Copenhagen was mainly interested in its bilateral relations with Greenland.

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Around 2007, global attention to Arctic affairs increased significantly as it became evident that climate change was opening the region to human activity, which could in turn lead to new security challenges. This led to a third phase, where Denmark’s policy underwent an “Arctic turn”, where it turned its attention away from the bilateral relationship with Greenland towards multilateral institutions in the region, such as the Arctic Council and cooperation between the Arctic coastal states. The most recent phase in Danish Arctic policy is a response to a new American interest in Arctic security in general and its position in Greenland specifically. Since around 2016, the United States has once again begun to view the Arctic as an arena for strategic competition with other great powers and this has meant that Washington has once again begun to focus on strengthening its position in Greenland. However, because of Greenland’s enhanced autonomy and the growth of regional institutions, the situation is unlikely to reverse to simply resemble the situation during the Cold War, where Denmark more or less only focused on the bilateral relationship with the United States. While an enhanced American interest in Greenland creates an opportunity for Denmark to once again “play the Greenland Card” by using Greenland to strengthen its relationship with Washington, Denmark also has to take a more resourceful and ambitious Greenland, as well as its concern for regional institutions, into account. Denmark therefore has to navigate several challenges: Denmark has to ensure that Washington does not encroach on Danish sovereignty, that regional cooperation can be maintained, and that the benefits of an enhanced American presence can be shared evenly between Denmark and Greenland.

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Jon Rahbek-Clemmensen is an associate professor at the Royal Danish Defence College’s Institute for Military Operations. His research interests include European security, Arctic politics, Danish foreign and defense policy, and civil-military relations. He holds a PhD in International Relations from the LSE and has previously held visiting positions at Columbia University and CSIS. Line Jedig Nielsen was a research associate at the Royal Danish Defence College’s Institute for Military Operations. Her research interests include Arctic politics, Chinese Arctic and foreign policy, and gendered inequalities in war and conflict. She holds a MSc. in Global Studies from Lund University.

Arctic Stakeholders

China’s Aspirations as a “Near Arctic State”: Growing Stakeholder or Growing Risk? Sybille Reinke de Buitrago

Introduction—Why Is China Relevant in the Arctic? The Arctic is a region that is currently shaped by dramatic change. With climate change taking place at a rapid speed in the Arctic region, we can speak of both risks and opportunities, and both need responsible management. This chapter focuses on the influence of China in the Arctic, and on how other states actors in the region react to what we may call a growing Chinese footprint in the Arctic. With melting ice resulting in growing access to the region, we can observe significantly growing interests in new resources and faster transit routes. Even though new transit routes may not be safe for navigation for years to come, and resources lie mostly within Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ), expectations regarding these new opportunities seem to exponentially grow. We may even speak of a narrative of opportunity and gain. Such a narrative is present despite existing legal frameworks in the region. These frameworks may not be sufficient to prevent an overly strong Chinese foothold in the Arctic, since China is positioning itself as an essential and as needed partner for important and large-scale economic and development projects in the region. In the Arctic, we have five Arctic coastal states, which are Canada, Denmark (via Greenland), Norway, Russia and the U.S. These states have sovereign rights, according to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). In addition, we also have the Arctic Eight, which are Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the U.S., all being members of the Arctic Council (AC), a forum for coordination on Arctic matters. Because the ice that used to serve as natural barrier is now more and more melting and allowing greater access to territory, and because human activity is projected to increase greatly, some coastal states also raise the security aspect. With greater access, these states fear for their national security. For them, greater access brings geostrategic issues and questions of spheres of influence S. Reinke de Buitrago (B) IFSH, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 J. Weber (ed.), Handbook on Geopolitics and Security in the Arctic, Frontiers in International Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-45005-2_6



S. Reinke de Buitrago

to the fore. As a non-Arctic state, China has no sovereign rights. Yet, underlining Chinese Arctic ambitions, in the last years officials in Beijing have begun do define their country as a ‘near-Arctic’ state. Since 2013, China is also observer in the AC; the observer status enables engagement in projects of the AC working groups. With China being increasingly active in and towards the Arctic, especially Canada and the U.S. express growing concern regarding sovereignty, security, and influence, as well as potential resource gains. Although there has historically been more cooperation than conflict among states in the Arctic region, the growing expectations regarding resources and shorter transit routes, but also the rising uncertainty as to climate-related developments call for effective tools to prevent and/or regulate conflict. In recent years, a number of coastal states have notably increased their focus on and activities in the region. Examples relate to the adjusting of national security strategies and the revising of national Arctic strategies, but also to greater policy commitment to the Arctic in various fields, and expanded research. Some costal states have strengthened their surveillance. We can even observe some troop and military equipment deployments. As stated, human activity in general and of various type is predicted to grow significantly. To better understand ongoing dynamics in the Arctic, we should also consider the role of spatial constructions and spheres of influence. For some regional actors, also some elements of their national identity have become activated, now playing a stronger role in their behaviour vis-à-vis the region. Space and identity, and how they may be evoked, are important—both have a political and security dimension. In the context of states and interstate-relations, space is also politically produced and applied to represent the self and to promote national interests vis-à-vis other states. Identity constructions link up discursively with political space and spatial constructions; both identity and space then affect political behaviour and interstate relations. As social and political constructions, space and identity become meaningful and material, and thereby inform policy formulation and action (Agnew and Muscarà 2012; Reuber 2012). We may also understand a state’s attempts to expand (political) space as a way to further national interests (Flint and Mamadouh 2015: 1). Because space and national identity are linked, scholars see in national identity a significant influence on policy formulation towards other states and in interstate relations. For example, when one state, or its decision makers, represents another state as a risk to the self/the own state, a certain frame of interpretation results that then shapes interpretations and relations (Holland 2014: 201–203; Agnew 2010). Political actors communicate their state’s place in the world—where they stand vis-à-vis other states; in this, we may also see a geopolitical act that can create or add to insecurity and conflict (Holland 2014; Agnew and Muscarà 2012: 11, 28–29). This chapter thus attends to the spatial and identity dimension regarding current developments in the Arctic, with a particular focus on China. In the next section, the chapter elaborates on Chinese behaviour in the Arctic. It thereby especially explores economic, research and technology aspects, as well as geostrategic and security aspects. Lastly, the chapter presents a perspective of how we may see China at this point in the Arctic, as growing regional stakeholder or as growing risk. In closing, some recommendations

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and their challenges for potentially integrating China for a stable Arctic future are offered.

How China Is Expanding Its Foothold in the Arctic How is China currently proceeding in the Arctic, and what has the country done in the last years to pursue its interests in the Arctic region? Both discourse and activities clearly illustrate Arctic interests. Official Chinese discourse evidences an unmistakable trend towards a stronger positioning regarding claimed interests in the Arctic. While official statements continue to speak of the goal of Arctic cooperation, we can increasingly find statements about the willingness and readiness to further promote and implement China’s Arctic interests. Furthermore, if needed, the country is ready to enforce its interests also with military means. Already in 2008, China spoke out against the exclusion of non-Arctic states from Arctic affairs and developments (Lanteigne 2015: 150–155; Chao 2013). A year later, in 2009, the Chinese government warned the coastal states of placing their interests above those of the international community, as according to Chinese officials every country had the same rights to use Arctic resources. Beijing thus frames its interests in the Arctic in a broader, international context, and rejects coastal states’ rights. To support these claims, the White Paper of 2015 states China’s maritime interests and rights (The State Council 2015). The Arctic is framed as part of the global common. Such argumentation is to underline the legitimacy of Chinese Arctic interests; Chinese officials may hope that the global common context can give China a stronger base on which to try to circumvent coastal states’ sovereign rights. This point will be taken up later in more detail. For China, key interests are resources, shorter transit routes, and security, and to a lesser degree tourism for the growing Chinese population. In the first policy paper on the Arctic, China outlines its interests in the region (The State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China 2018). Resources are to satisfy current needs but also to guarantee resource security in the future. Beijing hopes to secure further economic growth with a supply of Arctic resources, and, with it, political stability in country with a growing population and their growing demands. Aside from oil and gas, China is highly interested in rare earths, uranium, zinc, and iron ore. Regarding shipping, China aims to be able to utilize shorter and new transit routes, which shall serve China’s global shipping and trade. The other key interest is security. As such, security is linked with geopolitical influence, and it is understood both in conventional, military terms and as comprehensive and broader. In addition, we can find the interest in tourism. The tourism interest is explained with the growing need to be able to offer the expanding Chinese population places with clean air. While this is clearly a lesser interest, it would not be wise to underestimate it, as it would result in significant increases in human activity in general, which will likely stoke security concerns further. Generally linked to these interests is the stated freedom to research and the rights to navigation, overflight, fishing and resource exploitation. Interest articulation comes in the frame of the Arctic as global common,


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as a region with benefits for all of humanity. With such a frame, Chinese officials may hope to overcome legal hurdles of sovereign rights, and to generally weaken the existing legal framework in the Arctic. In the case that also other states and actors, even including the European Union, come forward with similar perspectives, as is partly the case, the Chinese argument would gain impact. Then, Beijing would be effectively circumventing the regional legal order. In addition, Chinese officials consistently point out that climate change in the Arctic will have effects beyond the region, then also impacting China’s environment, ecosystem and agriculture, for example via flooding. From their perspective, and based on this argument, China would then also be entitled to benefit from the new opportunities in the Arctic. To promote this, China‘s Arctic and Antarctic Administration has already earlier demanded the expansion of Chinese political influence in the Arctic, so that China can benefit from the region (Feng 2015; NBAR 2016). In addition, Chinese officials position their country as Arctic stakeholder. Via strategic partnerships and largescale investment, China is already a partner for important development projects in the Arctic. Some experts then see a foreign policy of China regarding the Arctic that is only slowly presented and explained to the outside world—there is one message for the own population and among Chinese experts and quite another to the outside (Brady 2018). To implement its Arctic interests, China seems to attempt to alter the legal conditions. Exemplifying this, a recent report by the U.S.-based Center for Naval Analysis (Rosen and Thuringer 2017) sees China planning to actually reorder the Arctic legal order and to get Arctic resources categorized as global common. The next two parts outline, how China is proceeding in the Arctic region to benefit from it and to strengthen its position there.

Economics, Research and Technology China actively uses the fields of economics, research and technology to further promote its interests and advance its foothold in the Arctic. An important space and means for the implementation of China’s interests are oceans and maritime space overall. Chinese officials have repeatedly stated China’s objective of becoming a polar power and a maritime power in the coming years (see also Martinson 2016). The Arctic is becoming a region of central importance to China. For some, it is among China’s “new strategic frontiers” (Brady 2018). However, Chinese interests in the Arctic region are not all that new. Already in the 1950s, China had been cooperating with Soviet scientists, and since the 1960s, Beijing is interested in oil and gas exploration in the Arctic—only that the world took notice of this much later. Today, China hopes to gain from territories with undetermined sovereignty, referring to the continental shelf extended seabed claims, of which coastal states will likely gain sovereign rights but not sovereignty—and here, Chinese hopes may even come true (Brady 2018). In facilitating the implementation of its Arctic interests, China is directing its investment strategically in needed resources and in infrastructure (Rosen and Thuringer 2017). The amount of the taken investment is equally notable. From

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2005 to 2017, Chinese investment in Arctic nations came up to about 1.4 Trillion US$, thus representing a great share of all available investment capital. The great share of Chinese investments is in energy and mineral resources. Investment is also highly dynamic; there is a steady initiation of new projects, along with the ending of old ones (Rosen and Thuringer 2017: 53–54). In the context of China’s Arctic investment and activities, we also need to look at the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI, formerly One Belt One Road, OBOR). BRI today presents an important related project, since the Initiative now has a link to the Arctic via the Arctic sea route. This carries the name of the Polar Silk Road. For Brady (2018), BRI is an economic order with China clearly positioned in its centre and as the key beneficiary from all activities. Via BRI, China is in the position to link its various interests in resources, security and strategic science—and thereby significantly expand its benefits. Strategic science plays a role here too, as the name suggests: since 1996, China is a member of the International Arctic Science Committee; since 1999, the country has conducted scientific Arctic expeditions, and in 2005, it was the first Asian host of the Arctic Science Summit Week. Brady (2018) also points to the strategic implications of the Initiative. To her, China has fashioned BRI according to the recommendations by Alfred Mahan for rising powers: thus, China is now building up its blue-water navy; it will then use the navy to protect its sea lanes of communication, and then finally ensure resource and market access. In support of this endeavour, China is increasingly signing agreements with Arctic states. Eder (2018) adds that BRI enables Beijing to connect the participating states via Chinese infrastructure projects, in return for access to their markets, secured trade routes and energy security. BRI-related projects are thus among the Chinese government’s strategic priorities and are furthermore designed to serve the security and foreign policy interests of expanding China’s influence. The government’s “Vision for maritime Cooperation” elaborates how Beijing aims to ensure the security of both Chinese investments and citizens in BRI states, including with military means if that should be necessary (Eder 2018). There are also views that see the effectiveness of BRI regarding Chinese interests, critical, however. For example, some add that the widespread political spoil-seeking and rent-seeking by multiple Chinese interest groups, within the context of a priority placed on BRI, has actually led to duplication and waste and thus significant losses of effectiveness and productivity (Hillman 2018: 4–5). Furthermore, the various interests of partner countries, which often do not concur, could further hamper BRI and the expected gains for China. To promote its Arctic interests, China has also significantly increased its bi- and multilateral cooperation, as already stated. Such cooperation places a particular focus on the energy sector. While it may be true that, as Kirchberger (2016: 43) points out, other regions may be more promising for China’s energy interests, the Chinese actions do illustrate very high hopes placed in the Arctic. The last few years have increasingly shown so. We can also note the growing determination to profit from the region. Thus, Chinese firms have placed a focus on commercial opportunities in the Arctic, and China’s activities extend to Arctic affairs, including via regional cooperation, economic development and even global governance (see also Eiterjord 2019). Studies


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also show that Chinese companies are actively engaged in technology- and skillbuilding in order to achieve eye-level competition with other actors in the Arctic. For example, Chinese companies are among the largest buyers of international oil assets, of which some are directed at the Arctic. Furthermore, Arctic-related research and natural-resource development are greatly expanded; necessary infrastructure and equipment are built, including icebreakers; and large parcels of land are bought in Arctic states. Maritime Arctic activity is also growing overall (Feng 2015; NBAR 2016: 5; Roughead 2015). All of these actions and activities combine to significant increases in China’s Arctic impact, and even a coherent strategy of expanding China’s Arctic foothold. Among the growing cooperation partners, we find particularly Finland, Greenland, Iceland and Norway. For example, China plans to co-finance the planned FinnishNorwegian Arctic railway with the aim of linking the Northern Sea Route (NSR) with mainland Europe, and of later connecting it with the Polar Silk Road. A significant part of Chinese investment goes to Finland, in particular in energy companies and for resource exploration, but also for scientific research and for tourism for Chinese citizens. China and Finland have signed a number of cooperation agreements on infrastructure, industry, shipping, maritime security, research and technology (Seaman et al. 2017). Regarding Norway, also here China sees an attractive avenue for investment. Norway has thus received growing investments, particularly regarding resources and energy. Specialized and high-tech firms are more and more active in Norway. For example, the China Investment Corporation has now significant involvement in the country’s oil sector (Gåsemyr and Sverdrup-Thygeson 2017: 101–103). Regarding Iceland, also here China has expanded cooperation and activities. Iceland and China have a free trade agreement since 2013, and Iceland is currently a growing target of Chinese investments. Especially oil and gas are of interest to China, with the China National Offshore Oil Company having a 60% share in two future oil and gas fields. Some then see in Iceland the centre of Chinese logistics regarding its Arctic activities (Guschin 2015). China and Iceland also plan to build the ChinaIceland Joint Aurora Observatory. Further investments and cooperation projects are conducted with Canada and the United States. Among the key agreements, we find one on the exploration of Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) in Alaska with three Chinese energy and finance companies involved. A particularly significant portion of Chinese investment goes towards Greenland. In the perspective of Beijing, Greenland has a significantly growing economic, mining and resource potential. Greenland also offers much room for expanding Chinese activities. Thus, some speak of Greenland following a rather “aggressive national development strategy” (Rosen and Thuringer 2017: 55) that significantly allows foreign investment without many conditions. China actively utilizes the offered space to expand its presence and gain, mainly via economic cooperation agreements, the building of new infrastructure and with the purchase of land. Beijing even pursues plans for tourism for Chinese citizens. Resources present the key interest here. Thus, Greenland’s mineral deposits, including zinc, lead, coal, platinum, gold, copper and iron, are thought to be greater than presently known; China pursues plans for the mining of zinc, iron and rare earths (Shi and Lanteigne 2018; Rosen and Thuringer 2017:

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23). The buying of real estate on a large scale in Greenland, but also in other Arctic states, is to facilitate and support the Chinese investments (Pincus 2018). China furthermore plans to construct and/or expand three airports in Greenland, which are Nuuk, Ilulissat and Qaqortoq. The Chinese activities are accelerating at a pace and intensity so much that Denmark has become concerned. Denmark has a defence treaty with the U.S., and the Thule air base is in Greenland. However, Denmark also has its own Arctic interests; Greenland is independent except in matters of foreign policy and defence (Jensen 2018). An overly growing Chinese impact in Greenland is thus raising also security concerns, which may motivate the U.S. to strengthen its own position there. It is also of interest that since Greenland’s economy is rather small and China’s investments so large, the relationship between Greenland and China may likely become skewed: China is set to gain an undue say in local developments (Shi and Lanteigne 2018). Furthermore, the stated security concerns have a basis. As Rosen and Thuringer (2017: 12) point out, with the Thule air base’s refurbishment the U.S. military has renewed its commitments in Greenland. We may read this as a sign of intent of not giving too much leeway to Chinese companies on the ground. Lastly, China’s cooperation with Russia regarding the Arctic is particularly noteworthy. In the Arctic, China and Russia are also competitors, despite growing cooperation. Thus, their present cooperation may only be a partnership of convenience. It is likely that in the future China will be the stronger partner and then end up constraining Russian Arctic influence for own benefit. Currently, Russia is quite dependent on Chinese money, particularly since Western sanctions after the Crimea annexation by Russia have cut available finances. China has saved the Yamal LNG project to Russian benefit. Yet, now the New Silk Road Fund has a share in the project, which certainly strengthens the Chinese position. Chinese companies also co-construct the northern Russian port of Sabetta that is part of the Yamal project. In 2016, the Russian Federal Subsoil Resources Management Agency and China Oilfield Services Limited signed an agreement to conduct joint marine seismic surveying also beyond Russia (see also Filimonova 2017). Cooperation between Russia and China is thus increasing to the benefit of both currently. However, China is in the stronger position to expand its benefit. Thus, in the future, China will likely gain the greater share of influence and gain. The discussion above shows that China is clearly engaging in highly strategic, interest-oriented, selective investment and partnering—with the goal of expanding and bolstering its regional foothold in the Arctic. For one, this does create a dependency on China and Chinese investments. For another, some states may simply come to see China as needed partner and thereby enable Beijing to influence Arctic affairs; they may even call on China to shape regional issues and developments due to the growing footprint and the financial and technological might. Thereby, Beijing may be enabled to expand its geostrategic interests and impact security matters. States like Canada and the U.S., already increasingly wary in this regard, will likely take counteractions, which in turn bears conflict potential. Even Russia, for now working with China, may at some point begin to push back China, for example whenever its interests become threatened by Beijing’s actions and growing influence. We may also see the strengthening of coalitions, for example, coalitions among the Arctic


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coastal states or the Arctic Eight that then will aim to constrain China’s growing influence. Such steps, and their effects on the region, could make the Arctic’s future more precarious.

The Geostrategic and Security Dimension When it comes to geostrategic positioning and security aspects in relation to China, we can observe a Chinese pursuit of interest that is at times aggressive and at other times within the legal order. In the last years, Beijing’s assertiveness, competitiveness and offensive rhetoric and proceeding have certainly increased. Some scholars highlight the growing Chinese Arctic ambitions in the context of a much more forward positioning and even aggressive rhetoric and action, which will impact also the security in the Arctic (Albrecht et al. 2014: 207; Laird et al. 2013: 90). We can furthermore observe aggressive behaviour in territorial disputes over maritime areas in which China has a strong interest. How China behaves elsewhere, for example in the South China Sea, offers a view to how China is poised to implement its interests when it is able (even if in the South China Sea, China has a different legal standing). China’s increasing conduct of military and marine manoeuvres, some also in cooperation with Russia, demonstrates China’s growing strength and underlines its position. A number of U.S. defence institutions (U.S. Department of Defense 2014: 4–6; U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard 2015: 1) also point to the Chinese air defence systems being capable of blocking access to maritime spaces for other actors and thus limiting freedom of action. Chinese behaviour in the Arctic may then simply depend on how soon there will be ice-free passages (Scott 2016: 9–11). The building of icebreakers by China though will allow action also independent of ice-free passages. Eying opportunities to increase own influence in the Arctic, China accords the Russian Arctic and the NSR with its link to Europe great interest. Since the growing commercial activity and the increasing demands for icebreaker escorts are overburdening the Russian nuclear icebreaker fleet, Chinese officials already see the Russian icebreaker fleet not up to speed anymore and the fees much too high; with own nuclear icebreakers, China can actually participate in and shape the development of the NSR (Eiterjord 2018).1 Furthermore, some also state that the Arctic region’s export orientation for oil and gas can motivate tension on a geopolitical level, as Keil (2017: 283–284) points out, because of various dependencies, certain market dynamics, and the growing needs for energy security. 1 China

is building both nuclear and non-nuclear icebreakers. A nuclear-powered icebreaker is planned. It is commissioned by China Maritime Nuclear Power Development; China National Nuclear Power is the primary shareholder. Aside from polar expedition cruise ships with icebreaking capacity for Arctic tourism, China has non-nuclear icebreakers in operation: there are three by the People’s Liberation Army and two by the Polar Research Institute of China (one of these is still in construction).

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Whereas some states see China more and more as legitimate stakeholder in the Arctic, because China contributes to the region’s development regarding transport, trade and resources, others are increasingly concerned over China’s growing geopolitical and regional weight and influence. For example, Eder (2018) points to a number of states in Asia, Europe and North America reacting to and coordinating their activities against the growing Chinese influence. The implications of Chinese actions thus include not only greater anxieties but also increasing contestation over access and resources both now and for the future, as well as over geopolitical influence and security in the region. Among those aiming to constrain Chinese influence are Canada and the U.S. In recent years, both states have strengthened their own commitment to the Arctic. They are concerned over security, territorial sovereignty, continued access, freedom of action and freedom of navigation, and geopolitical competition in the Arctic region. Thus, both have increased their Arctic domain awareness, regional patrol and surveillance, as they see the region as crucial for their sovereignty, security and defence (U.S. Department of State 2016; White House 2015b: 5; Depledge 2015: 61; Hilde 2014; Huebert 2013; Offerdal 2014: 75–81). Canada has already years ago expressed growing concern over incursions into what it sees its sphere of influence in the Arctic, and it has followed through with new measures and agreements to increase control (Mychajlyszyn 2008; Government of Canada 2013). Both Canada and the U.S. underline the newness of the changes in the Arctic, the impact on a geopolitical level, and the effects on security. From the view of the U.S., it is highly uncertain if competition or cooperation will shape the Arctic in the future (NBAR 2016: 1). The U.S. expects geopolitical calculations by other states in the Arctic as well as growing regional competition, dissent and militarization. The U.S. sees developments clearly from a security and geostrategic lens (see for example U.S. Department of State 2016; White House 2016; U.S. Department of Defense 2011; Conley 2010). To safeguard U.S. national security, the U.S. are considering also preemptive measures and the use of military means (Lamothe 2014). The sense of urgency in light of growing Chinese ambitions in the Arctic has certainly increased, and so has the willingness and readiness to respond with all strength (Roughead 2015; White House 2015a: 2, 24). In addition, also the growing Sino-Russian strategic aligning, in the Arctic and elsewhere is of increasing concern (Feng 2015: 6, 31). This becomes even more acute in the context of the U.S. perception of China and Russia. The U.S. considers both countries as the “near-peer strategic competitors” (NBAR 2016: 1). The increased security concern of Canada and the U.S. should not be taken lightly, considering that they have Arctic interests themselves. With Canada and the U.S., we can see that key states—states with sovereign rights in the Arctic and considerable power to shape the region’s future—see the Arctic in geopolitical terms and as sphere of influence. The region is considered as a space for own freedom of action, benefit, influence and security. Furthermore, both states also link their national identity more closely to the Arctic, highlighting the view of themselves as northern nations. With repeated references to the northern frontier and being Arctic nations (Government of Canada 2013, 2009; U.S. Department of Defense 2011; U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard 2015), the Arctic space is linked to national identity.


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This in turn increases commitment and stakes. When other states actively position themselves to gain a share of Arctic resources, such as China, the Arctic region could become more fragile. With coastal state Russia additionally providing an entry point for China’s influence, and in the context of already tense relations between the U.S./Canada with Russia, the geopolitical dimension becomes clear. The potential of growing contestation, tension and conflict increases. Since also other states, such as Greenland, provide entry points for China’s implementation of Arctic interest, potential fallout should be considered. In this context, statements on the willingness to apply even military means to protect own interests and national security only add to tension. Attempts to address contestation and conflict potential will need to include effective regulatory structures. In this light, the Arctic shows clear deficits. Thus, existing structures of Arctic cooperation and governance are not fit to deal with security and conflict. The AC, notably, excludes security issues. Scholars also point to the two relevant structures—the AC and UNCLOS—being underdeveloped, fragmented and insufficiently coordinated (Käpylä and Mikkola 2015; Stoessel et al. 2014: 50–51; Chater 2014: 538–539, 551). A case in point is the Ukraine crisis. After the annexation of Crimea by Russia, the conflict spilled over into the Arctic region. Some cooperation was slowed, and other cooperation was temporarily suspended. The AC could not respond appropriately for lack of a mandate. The AC is only a forum of exchange and coordination without the ability for binding decisions. The other regulatory body related to the Arctic is UNCLOS, but also here there was no capacity to deal with the raised security questions. UNCLOS also does not offer comprehensive governance. In addition, with new claims regarding EEZs but no clear rulings to guide UNCLOS on how to decide, there may be further incentives for states to engage in aggressive action in order to protect or promote their own interests. Furthermore, the Arctic states are not keen on sharing rights, and they may resist moves in such a direction. For example, as pointed out (Humrich 2018), the Arctic states have already illustrated their opposition to any efforts by other states that go in the direction of an internationalization of the region; they see their interests better served by a continued approach of regionalization to the Arctic, which lets them stay in the driver seat regarding regional developments. The question of what role China will play towards and in the Arctic in the future, and how that may affect regional stability, is thus also shaped by a context of underdeveloped regulatory structures, as well as an opposition towards any broadening of who can shape the region’s future.

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Implications: Is China a Growing Arctic Stakeholder or a Risk China’s approach to the Arctic and its behaviour in various fields in and towards the Arctic—all in the context of regional dynamics and the reactions of coastal states— makes China both a growing Arctic stakeholder and a potential risk to regional stability. The great uncertainty about how exactly the effects of climate change will shape the future of the Arctic increases the fragile situation. China’s growing global weight and influence give it a status that others will not be able to ignore. China is actively working to create such a situation; and the greater China’s impact in the coming years will be, the more will other states be forced to consider Chinese interests and behaviour. Considerable dependencies are created that will allow Beijing to pursue its Arctic interests more strongly and effectively. Current positioning and counteractions by some of the Arctic coastal states though, notably the U.S. and Canada, illustrate that these states are not willing to cede their interests. Both discourse and behaviour of these coastal states show that they are willing to fight for their interests in various ways. In addition, when it comes to security, the Arctic region is still mainly shaped by national-interest approaches and by a thinking in terms of spheres of influence. The discourse of some coastal states is focused on the protection of their national interests, sovereignty and security. We thus find increasingly aggressive rhetoric by some states regarding their interests in the region, growingly assertive action, and a discourse of risk vis-à-vis non-Arctic China, but also Russia. Not only coastal states but also non-Arctic states such as China are able to influence stability and peace in the Arctic. Hoped for new resources and shipping routes are certainly a motivator in this picture, but also fears over security play a significant role. Agreeing with scholars who argue that constructed threat images of other states, such as illustrated here, shape geopolitical ordering in the Arctic (Albert 2015: 221), the Arctic’s future as both profitable and stable space is uncertain. Linked elements of national identity bolster threat images. Seeing and constructing the Arctic as space for gain national influence, and in turn acting on these views, cement the current approaches to the Arctic. Threat images and the discourse of threat, underlined and at the same time further fed by respective policy and activities will then likely develop more meaning and force with each step taken. The Arctic coastal states and the Arctic Eight will hardly allow China to further implement its Arctic ambitions when they can take countermeasures. This is where it becomes precarious, where the potential for tension and conflict grows. Arguably, if national interests further prevail and if tension is not sufficiently regulated, the Arctic could develop into a regional hotspot with extra-regional effects. If China is allowed to play out its strengths, using all available niches to cement and implement its Arctic interests, particularly in the economic and technological domains, China will be a serious power to reckon with in the Arctic, and one that coastal states will not be able to simply ignore. China’s growing economic foothold in the region will de facto give it rights also in other domains. In the future, we will thus likely have an Arctic picture, where coastal states will have to work and cooperate with


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China. Mechanisms for how to do so constructively will have to be found, including regarding the fundamental question of how to consider non-Arctic states without curbing the rights of coastal states. Coastal states or the Arctic Eight can hardly ignore that also other states may be increasingly affected by changes in the Arctic; neither can they ignore a non-Arctic state like China that has growing Arctic interests and the means to significantly affect the region. The example of China pinpoints the dilemma: how to enable states without any sovereign rights but arguably almost de facto rights—because China’s regional weight and influence result in a stakeholderstatus—to contribute to Arctic development and both gain from the region and take responsibility for it. This is a question also for legal experts and cannot be answered in this chapter; it is woven into the current and future dynamics in the Arctic. With a discourse of threat and risk representations contributing to actual cooperation or contestation, there is a need to address the present risk representations. For this, we will need intensified dialogue. It seems sensible, for example, to strengthen dialogue formats in which Arctic states articulate what precisely they perceive as threatening to themselves and their interests, and why. Such discussions should also include the role and impact of identity and spatial aspects. It is essential that actors understand how the behaviour of each is motivated, before any joint actions can effectively be discussed and taken. We also should not underestimate the potential that greater trust offers for constructive relations and stability. Intensified dialogue and interaction, for example in various Arctic formats, can strengthen mutual understandings of perspectives, interests and needs, as well as build trust. Greater trust can serve as basis to both identify common ground on issues and to foster cooperation when interests diverge. Trust is also essential in times of crises, as it can facilitate balanced reactions. Regional stability will also be strengthened if means are agreed to make powerful, non-Arctic states like China a part of the Arctic security architecture. To address the increasing and conflicting claims and interests in the Arctic, means of conflict management are required. These means should include early warning indicators and response capacities, more effective means for the evaluation of security-related developments, and regular meeting formats for a fast addressing of issues and needs. Monitoring panels for rising risks and crises in various policy areas may be installed. For example, it is highly important to evaluate and respond to instances of threatmaking and the pausing or stop of agreed cooperation measures, and to do so quickly. Currently, the most fitting format would be the AC, as it offers formats for dialogue. However, as the AC is not set up to deal with security issues, some adjustments would be needed in this regard. Since some of the coastal states see it fit to make security matters part of the AC’s mandate, most prominently Canada (The Simons Foundation 2017), there may be a chance for it. If also other stakeholders agree, the AC could then also be strengthened in its role and impact, being more enabled to safeguard regional stability in times of uncertainty and change. It is pointed out that AC members have already decided on certain measures that not only relate to maritime security but also to military security (for more, see Humrich 2015: 144–145). However, there is also considerable criticism against the inclusion of security in the AC mandate. The question is not only whether or not the inclusion of security in the AC mandate is

China’s Aspirations as a “Near Arctic State”: Growing …


doable, but also whether or not it is desirable—also from an overall perspective of AC tasks and functioning. As some argue, the needs of indigenous peoples in the Arctic, and their abilities to influence regional developments, for example, would likely suffer from an actual security profile of the AC. In addition, a stronger military profile of the AC would come with greater political sensibilities and constraints, and likely weaken both dialogue and work on other issues. Furthermore, security issues may simply be dealt with better in other regional organizations (Humrich 2015: 145– 147); as of now, however, no such steps have been taken elsewhere. Furthermore, we are now several years later, and we have a number of new developments, as discussed in this contribution. Thus, the Arctic seems to be facing a new or changed situation, which may require a new look at security and the AC. The contribution here thus makes no decisive argument for including security in the AC mandate, but certainly for discussing the options for attending to hard security issues and conflict potential, and for finding or building appropriate means and mechanisms to do so. In whichever format coastal states and the Arctic Eight, and possible others, will discuss growing contestation, the essential point is that it will be discussed and then appropriately addressed. Considering that the Arctic is undergoing fast changes that will have an impact beyond the region, and that it bears important opportunities, it is essential that means be found to harvest opportunities in a responsible and cooperative manner, while working for a sustainable and a stable Arctic. A stable Arctic certainly also requires means for the regulation of tension and for conflict management.

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Laird, R. F., Timperlake, E., & Weitz, R. (2013). Rebuilding American military power in the Pacific: A 21st century strategy. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger. Lamothe, D. (2014, October 14). Climate change is a threat to national security, Pentagon says. The Washington Post, Section A, p. A 15. Lanteigne, M. (2015). The role of China in emerging Arctic security discourses. S+F Sicherheit und Frieden/Security and Peace, 33(3), 150–155. Martinson, R. D. (2016). Panning for gold: Assessing Chinese maritime strategy from primary sources. Naval War College Review, 69(3)(Summer), 23–44. Mychajlyszyn, N. (2008, October 24). The Arctic: Canadian security and defence. Parliamentary Information and Research Service, International Affairs, Trade and Finance Division. NBAR. (2016). Russia’s Arctic dreams have Chinese characteristics. National Bureau of Asian Research. Washington, DC und Seattle. http://nbr.org/downloads/pdfs/eta/ES_commentary_ maxie_slayton_101716.pdf. Accessed Nov 10, 2016. Offerdal, K. (2014). Interstate relations. The complexities of Arctic politics. In: R. Tamnes & K. Offerdal (Eds.), Geopolitics and security in the Arctic (pp. 73–96). New York and Abingdon, Routledge: Regional Dynamics in a Global World. Pincus, R. (2018, July 6). China’s polar strategy: An emerging gray zone? How China is positioning itself to wield influence in the Arctic and Antarctic. The Diplomat. https://thediplomat.com/2018/ 07/chinas-polar-strategy-an-emerging-gray-zone/. Accessed Feb 23, 2019. Reuber, P. (2012). Politische Geographie. Paderborn: Schöningh. Rosen, M. E., & Thuringer, C. B. (2017). Unconstrained foreign direct investment: An emerging challenge to Arctic security. Annandale, VA: Center for Naval Analysis. Roughead, G. (2015). Admiral. In the race for Arctic energy, the U.S. and Russia are polar opposites. Hoover Institution (August 26), via The Wall Street Journal (August 25). http://www.hoover.org/ research/race-arctic-energy-us-and-russia-are-polar-opposites. Accessed Nov 15, 2016. Scott, D. (2016, January). China coming into the Arctic. Strategic Insights 61, special Edn. Arctic Security, pp. 8–11. Seaman, J., Huotari, M., & Otero-Iglesias, M. (Eds.). (2017). Chinese investment in Europe: A country-level approach. European Think-tank Network on China. file:///E:/PC/Bille/Publishing%20+%20Vorträge/SWP%20Arktis%20Koll%202018/ etnc_reports_2017_final_20dec2017.pdf. Accessed Feb 23, 2019. Shi, M., & Lanteigne, M. (2018, March 30). The (many) roles of Greenland in China’s developing Arctic policy. The Diplomat. https://thediplomat.com/2018/03/the-many-roles-of-greenland-inchinas-developing-arctic-policy/. Accessed Feb 23, 2019. Stoessel, S., et al. (2014). Environmental governance in the marine Arctic. In E. Tedsen, S. Cavalieri, & R. A. Kraemer (Eds.), Arctic marine governance (pp. 45–69). Berlin and Heidelberg, Springer Verlag: Opportunities for Transatlantic Cooperation. The Simons Foundation. (2017). Arctic security. http://www.thesimonsfoundation.ca/arcticsecurity. Accessed Jul 25, 2017. The State Council. (2015). China’s military strategy. The People’s Republic of China. http:// english.gov.cn/archive/white_paper/2015/05/27/content_281475115610833.htm. Accessed Mar 20, 2017. The State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China. (2018, January). China’s Arctic Policy. U.S. Department of Defense. (2011, May). Report to congress on Arctic operations and the Northwest passage. Washington, DC. http://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/Tab_ A_Arctic_Report_Public.pdf. Accessed Nov 8, 2016. U.S. Department of Defense. (2014). Quadrennial defense review 2014. Washington, DC. http:// archive.defense.gov/pubs/2014_Quadrennial_Defense_Review.pdf. Accessed Nov 9, 2016. U.S. Department of State. (2016). U.S. chairmanship of the Arctic council. Washington, DC. http:// www.state.gov/e/oes/ocns/opa/arc/uschair/. Accessed Nov 9, 2016.


S. Reinke de Buitrago

U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard. (2015). Forward. Engaged. Ready. Cooperative strategy for 21st century seapower, https://www.uscg.mil/seniorleadership/DOCS/CS21R_Final. pdf. Accessed 15 Nov 2016. White House. (2015a, February). National security strategy 2015. Washington, DC. https://www. whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/2015_national_security_strategy.pdf. Accessed Nov 10, 2016. White House. (2015b, January). National strategy for the Arctic region—implementation report. https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2015/03/27/white-house-releases-implementation-reportnational-strategy-arctic. Accessed Nov 12, 2016. White House. (2016, March). U.S. Canada joint statement on climate, energy, and Arctic leadership. https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/03/10/us-canada-joint-statementclimate-energy-and-arctic-leadership. Accessed Nov 15, 2016.

Sybille Reinke de Buitrago is fellow at the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg, and project manager of VIDEOSTAR at PolAk Niedersachsen. Her research focuses on International Relations, Foreign and Security Policy, and Peace and Conflict Resolution. Regarding cooperation and conflict in the Arctic, she focuses on the role of space, identity and discourse.

China in the Arctic and the Case of Greenland Johannes Mohr

Introduction The dramatic loss of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean in the year 2007 and the planting of a Russian flag on the Lomonosov Ridge marked the beginning of an intensified Chinese interest in Arctic affairs. A quick search in the Chinese database China Academic Journals illustrates the increased curiosity of Chinese academics: Searching for only political and security related studies with the keyword “Arctic” (beiji) results in 1066 hits, listing only 130 articles published before January 2008, and the remaining 936 articles published thereafter.1 The discussion of Arctic affairs was not limited to China’s academic circles, but politicians and bureaucrats from Beijing as well as the Chinese media expressed their opinion about the future of the High North. The efforts of the communist government to improve China’s reputation in the Arctic by strengthening diplomatic and economic ties with countries such as Iceland and Norway and the domestic Chinese debate on the Arctic have not gone unnoticed in Western countries (Alexeeva and Lasserre 2012). Provocative statements made by Admiral Yin Zhuo and academics like Li Zhenfu continue to be extensively quoted by foreign observers as putative evidence, portraying China as pursuing a greedy and hidden agenda contesting the rights of Arctic states (Lackenbauer et al. 2018: 77; Chang 2010).2 China’s official denial of having such a strategy for the Arctic and the reassurance of vice foreign minister Hu Zhengyue in 2009 that the People’s 1 This search just gives an impression about the general trend of Arctic related political science in China, since some articles displayed do not focus on the Arctic. China Academic Journals Full-text Database. www.oversea.cnki.net. All websites accessed October 2019. 2 ‘The Arctic belongs to all the people around the world as no nation has sovereignty over it.’ This comment from Yin Zhuo and similar statements without specific definitions of what belongs to whom regularly are taken as (false) official Chinese claim to the North Pole.

J. Mohr (B) Institute for Security Studies, Kiel University, Holstenbrücke 8-10, 24103 Kiel, Germany e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 J. Weber (ed.), Handbook on Geopolitics and Security in the Arctic, Frontiers in International Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-45005-2_7



J. Mohr

Republic respects international law and the sovereignty of Arctic countries did not mitigate the widespread alarmism (Ning 2009: 59; Lackenbauer et al. 2018: 9–16). On the contrary, some authors argue that China’s Arctic interest indeed does not pose a direct threat to neighboring countries it could offer opportunities for cooperation and joint development (Lasserre 2010; Willi and Depledge 2015). Despite the arguments put forward in this polarized debate on China, it is often forgotten, that China’s footprint in the region—even after a decade of intensified interest in Arctic affairs—remains small: The claim that China spends more on polar research than e.g. Canada is unfounded and the figures for China’s Arctic science budget are often inflated (cf. Brady 2017: 168ff; Lackenbauer et al. 2018: 70). Furthermore, until today there are no signs that Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOE) rushing towards the North Pole and that China’s economic projects are at best of moderate scale (Lackenbauer et al. 2018: 126).3 Therefore, potential ramifications of a more active China in the north polar region can only be assumed. The relationship of Greenland and China illustrates and reflects this debate: The combination of economic potential with vast natural resources and a complex political environment, with Greenland’s striving for independence, fuels discussions on possible conflicts and cooperation opportunities. At the same time, much of this discourse is hypothetical due to the marginal record of Chinese engagement in Greenland. This chapter is intended to give a basic overview of the official and public Chinese interest in the region and to describe the main characteristics of the Chinese discourse on the Arctic. Furthermore, this chapter takes Greenland as test case to analyze how this interest materializes in concrete investment projects in Greenland. The first part of this chapter summarizes the latest developments of China’s Arctic debate and provides an overview of the international reaction to and perception of this discourse. The second part analyses the status quo of China in Greenland and focuses on Chinese investments in mining projects. This chapter concludes that the relationship between China and Greenland is an example of how foreign perception rather than actual evidence of Chinese (economic) activities turn China into an Arctic “great power”, as it is sometimes described. Nevertheless, despite the present small scale of Chinese mining activities, there are developments that deserve to be monitored in order to maintain concerns about undesirable impacts hypothetically.

The Chinese Discourse on Arctic Affairs The official Chinese position on Arctic affairs until 2018 could only be deduced from occasional statements of politicians and bureaucrats (Jakobson and Peng 2012: 19, 22; Campbell 2012). In its few comments Beijing assured the international community to respect the existing governance framework of the Arctic, and the government emphasized scientific and environmental protection issues, while downplaying or

3 However,

China’s engagement in the Russian Yamal Project is an exemption.

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even denying economic interests in the region (Ning 2009: 58).4 This reluctance expressed differed fundamentally from the policy suggestions and positions advocated in Chinese scientific publications on the Arctic. These focused in particular on how China’s participation in Arctic affairs can be achieved or improved.5 China’s academic Arctic debate was described by Wright (2011: 6–7) as “not […] monolithic or dogmatic” and that there is in fact a “fairly wide range of opinions and perspectives” among China’s scholars, but the predominant topic of these writings is to define China’s interests and how to realize them. The reference to international law and treaties related to the Arctic, as well as the impact of climatic changes in the Arctic on China are common arguments from Chinese scholars why China has legitimate interests in Arctic affairs (cf. Gou 2011: 69; Bai 2013: 87; Pan 2013: 20).6 Regardless of the proclaimed impact of Arctic changes on China, the geographical position of the People’s Republic is considered as disadvantageous for China’s participation (cf. Sun and Wang 2014a: 51ff). To address this situation, China’s academics elaborated creative ideas such as classifying China as a “near-Arctic state” (northern China is approximately on the same latitude as Kiel) and suggested, that the Chinese government should act more actively as advocate of all non-Arctic states. Arguments such as that the Arctic is an issue affecting the “humanity as a whole”, i.e. to internationalize Arctic affairs, shall further help to establish China as stakeholder with an “international mandate” (cf. Yang and Liu 2014: 33; Sun and Wang 2014b: 38). Beside the focus on how China could be more actively involved around the North Pole, another main theme is the dissatisfaction with the status quo of Arctic governance. This is reflected in the many statements counseling China’s government to use the existing international governance structures to create a more favorable system in the Arctic for China. The advice is to bring Arctic matters on a global stage into international organizations like the International Maritime Organization (IMO), instead of working through the Arctic Council where China has only limited influence, or even to lobby for an “Arctic Treaty” modeled on the Antarctic Treaty (cf. Dong 2012: 2; Guo and Sun 2013: 134). While the economic potential of the Arctic, such as resources and shipping ways seem to be the main reason why Chinese scholars would like to assign a bigger role to China, scientific exploration of the Arctic is another important issues in this debate (cf. Bai 2013: 87; Liu and Dong 2010: 3).

4 Cf.

Jakobson (2010: 1, 15), Brady (2017: 39, 87). Jakobson (2010) reported, that the Chinese Foreign Ministry (MOFA) requested the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) to avoid discussions on Arctic resources in a joint workshop. Brady made similar observations from 2008 to 2012. 5 Of course, there are always articles, which are not published under the premises of providing policy advice for the Chinese government. However, several studies about China’s Arctic interest suggest (including earlier research by the author), that this is the predominant tenor of Chinese political and international law publications on the Arctic. Jakobson (2010: 12), Jakobson and Peng (2012: 22), Wright (2011: 6–7); Mohr (2018a: 107). 6 The argument that China is affected by climatic change in the Arctic might be countered with the question, if it is not the other way around.


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For many years the publications of Chinese scholars were the primary source for China observers to get an impression of how “China” thinks on the Arctic. Often the mistake was made to take every academic comment as quasi-official statement on China’s view on the subject, thereby creating a threat narrative about China challenging the sovereignty of Arctic states (Lackenbauer et al. 2018: 12ff). In early 2018, the State Council Information Office published a white paper titled “China’s Arctic Policy”, thereby bringing some light into the discussions about China’s official intent in the Arctic. In this white paper the Chinese government explains why China is to be considered as an important stakeholder in Arctic affairs, how the changes in the Arctic have a direct impact on China and what the People’s Republic intents to do at the North Pole. According to Beijing “China is a ‘Near-Arctic State’”, that is directly affected by (climate) changes in the Arctic and thus has a say in Arctic affairs. While the background of the legal regime of the Arctic is presented the publishers refer to the Charter of the United Nations, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Spitsbergen Treaty and general international law as legal basis for Chinese activities in the region.7 China’s policy goals are described as to understand, to protect and to develop the Arctic as well as to participate in Arctic governance, while being committed to the “existing framework of international law”. In accordance with these objectives, the white paper states, that China’s primary interests lie in scientific research, and that China is highlighting environmental protection and the rational utilization (shipping, resource exploitation, fishery, and tourism) of the Arctic. The white paper concludes, that China is ready to contribute to a peaceful and prosperous Arctic, and that Beijing is willing to cooperate with “all relevant parties”. The official assurance to respect the existing governance framework of the Arctic, and the emphasis on Arctic science and environmental protection does not come unexpected. However, what is new is the explicit confirmation of Beijing to have its own economic interests in the region, and the clear message, that China does not want to remain an onlooker in Arctic affairs as perfectly visualized with its observer status in the Arctic Council. This commitment is very different from Beijing’s previous policy, that was noticeably restraint and cautious. The parallels of the government’s “basic position on Arctic affairs” with popular ideas among Chinese intellectuals discussed during the decade before the white paper was issued are obvious. This development confirmed an observed pattern of policy formulation in China: First, there is a period of public debate, with an often-unexpected great degree of freedom. After that, internal policy formulation starts, and an official policy will be announced. At this stage, the discussion becomes more uniform and participants will rally behind the government’s position (cf. Campbell 2012: 4; Mohr 2018a: 127). In the latest writings on the Arctic, Chinese scholars indeed like to refer to the white paper and its phrases like the one about China being a “near-Arctic state” or win-win cooperation as simple facts, that remain uncommented (Jiang 2018: 58; Zhang 2018: 20). However, 7 The

reference to UNCLOS and the Spitsbergen Treaty, to which the PRC is a party to, is selfevident. In the context of the UN Charter China as a permanent member of the UN Security Council attributes a special responsibility for peace and security in the Arctic to itself.

China in the Arctic and the Case of Greenland


while statements become more affirmative and the motivation to publish still remains to argue for the legitimacy of China’s interests and exploring ways to achieve them, there is a growing awareness of the foreign reactions and the skepticism that China’s engagement in polar affairs provokes abroad (cf. Xu 2019: 70).

The International Perception of China’s Arctic Interests Opinion surveys show that—except for in Russia—in all other Arctic neighboring states (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Canada and the United States) China ranks first as the country people are least comfortable with regarding Arctic involvement (EKOS Research 2011: 37). Like public opinion is divided, China observers conduct a polarized debate about the implications of China’s Arctic interest (Lackenbauer et al. 2018: 16). The main theme of this discussion on China is, whether the PRC presents a security threat to Arctic states or if the participation of China in Arctic affairs is an opportunity for the relevant countries. In short, if cooperation or conflict “is around the corner”. As mentioned earlier, the occasional provocative statements made by Chinese scholars seem to have done their part in heating up this discussion and regularly are taken as evidence of a so-called revisionist China challenging the Arctic governance system. This alarmistic rhetoric, especially from North American commentators, is to a certain degree self-inflicted by Chinese writings. However, the curious fashion of linking hit words like China, terrorism, naval investment and the Arctic can with good reasons be labeled as creating stereotypes of China.8 Further, think tank studies with unsubstantiated simplifications predicting a clash of interests are common.9 It is not surprising that China does not feel welcome and that the counter-reaction by Chinese analysts is to emphasize the legitimacy of their country’s interests. Thereby, foreign observers and Chinese writers create an “echo chamber” of two interrelated discussions, which refer to each other for proving the wicked intentions of the other side, but seldom consider the factual developments in the Arctic.10 8 E.g.: Victor Suthren wrote, that “Canada’s Arctic is melting into an ice-free major-ocean coastline

that will provide the government of the day with the challenge of policing three busy ocean coasts; the extraordinary economic expansion of China is now being followed by heavy defence expenditures on developing a large and capable Chinese blue-water navy; and the vital seaborne trade that lies at the heart of Canadian economic well-being will see the flow of thousands of containers into our ports increase fivefold within our lifetimes. A seaborne terrorist attack on North America is increasingly a possibility.” Lackenbauer et al. 2018: 11. 9 E.g.: Heather Conley simply states, that Chinese and US interests in the region are in stark contrast, without explaining exactly the reasons. In fact, it could be argued, that China and the U.S. have some common interests e.g. in developing Arctic shipping routes through Canadian waters. cf. Conley (2018: 2), Mohr (2018b: 310), Koivurova et al. (2017: 1). 10 Both sides seem to have in common, however, the hype about the potential of—for example— Arctic shipping and the geostrategic mindset. Further, the Arctic Council faced strong criticism from Chinese scholars for allegedly following a “Monroe-Doctrine” of keeping non-Arctic states


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This pattern once more becomes apparent with regard to Greenland: While Chinese articles describe Greenland as stepping stone for China to realize its Arctic interests, and attribute a special role to the island so rich in raw materials in China’s Arctic strategy, the headlines of foreign media reports and political commentators pick up the ball and elaborate on “how to keep China out of Greenland” or “how Greenland could become China’s Arctic base”.11 The amusing offer of US president Donald Trump to buy Greenland, once more brought geo-strategic planning, an “increasing presence” of China in Greenland, and Beijing’s interest in raw materials on the front pages (Lau 2019; Treadgold 2019; Inman 2019). As Greenland is described as a test case for China’s Arctic engagement, and Chinese investment on this island receives broad attention, a more detailed overview of these projects will help to assess the actual quality of Chinese presence in the region (Shi and Lanteigne 2018).

Chinese Mining Projects in Greenland With 75.5% Greenlanders voting for more political autonomy from Denmark in the 2008 referendum, Greenland became self-governing in 2009. The Self-Government Act and new laws assigned jurisdiction in internal policy areas previously under Danish control to the authorities in Nuuk.12 Only foreign relations and security policies remain to be decided in Copenhagen, unless they concern Greenland alone (Jesting 2019; Göcke 2009). The two central laws regulating foreign investment in Greenland are the Self-Government Act and the Mineral Resource Act. According to these laws no private land ownership rights exist in Greenland, but mining licenses and land allotments can be obtained (Government of Greenland 2019; Mortensen et al. 2016). Greenland’s economy is extremely dependent on the fishing industry (90% of commodity exports) and the yearly “block grant” from the Danish government, which accounts for about half the Nuuk’s government revenue (Government of Greenland 2018: 103; Mortensen et al. 2016: 192). Therefore, the utilization of the rich mineral deposits of Greenland and the aspirations for independence from Denmark are closely linked. The development of mining projects was regarded as a key element

like China out of the region. cf. Xiao (2014: 12–19), Foley (2018: 99), Lackenbauer et al. (2018: 22, 24), Brady (2017: 64). 11 Cf. Xu (2019: 71), Zhang (2018: 27), Pan (2013: 19ff), Simpson (2018), Bang-Andersen (2019). 12 This includes internal policy like language and education, social policy, cultural affairs, wildlife management, the health sector, and raw materials.

China in the Arctic and the Case of Greenland


in a strategy of Greenland to replace the Danish subsidy, to diversify the economy, and to achieve full autonomy from Denmark (Foley 2018: 101). However, Greenland lacks the financial resources for the construction and operation of large mining projects, and the island with a population of approximately only 56,000 people is short of workforce. It is not surprising, that China with its enormous demand for raw material, and its companies—especially its large state-owned enterprises (SOE)—with the necessary capital and experienced labor was regarded as important partner for Greenland (Mortensen et al. 2016: 193). While Denmark originally was supportive of the idea to develop the economic potential of Greenland with the contribution of Chinese investments, there was growing resentment in Copenhagen against the perceived rush of the Greenland government to court Chinese investment in the context of independence. On the other hand, Greenland got more and more frustrated about not being considered capable of handling Chinese investors and being taught about potential political implications. China on its part, has been very careful in this complex triangular relationship to avoid supporting the “China threat” narrative and being accused of internal interference (Sørensen 2018b: 84, 90; Foley 2018: 100). Nevertheless, this has not prevented a heated debate about strategic implications of Chinese foreign investment in Greenland. This debate addressed fears of uncontrolled immigration of Chinese workers, a perceived sale-out of Greenland’s resources, corruption and an “resource curse” and the overall possibility of losing Greenland with its geopolitical important position along potential Arctic sea routes (Foley 2018; Lackenbauer et al. 2018: 127). The value of Greenland for the United States and its security architecture, with satellite tracking and missile installations at Thule Air Base, adds a further “hard power” component to this controversy (Sørensen 2018b: 84). However, as Kevin Foley has analyzed in detail: During the height of this discussion between 2012 and 2014 not one substantial Chinese investment was made in Greenland and no Chinese migrant workers set foot on the island (Foley 2018).13 In contrast, the Greenland government started to send delegations to China to attend the yearly China Mining Conference on a regularly basis and to lobby for investors (Minex 2014: 8).

13 “This is not to say that there has been no Chinese activity at all […]. A group of Chinese geologists

has been engaged in exploration activities […] and a Chinese engineering company has entered into […] contracts with two Australian mining companies […]. Finally, the claim to Isua project was purchased by a Hong Kong-based company in 2015 after the London Mining Company went into administration.” (Foley 2018: 110). The Isua project is due to current low iron ore market prices on standby. Arctic Cluster of Raw Material (2018).


Source BingMaps, information compiled by the author

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China in the Arctic and the Case of Greenland


Today there are four mining projects in Greenland with Chinese participation: The Kvanefjeld rare earth project, the Citronen Fjord metal project, the Wegner Halvø copper site and the Isua iron ore project. All of them are regularly mentioned in media reports and in academic literature as examples of Chinese mining projects. It is important to underline that each of these projects was initiated either by the Greenlandic government or a Western company and Chinese enterprises have joined these projects “by buying licenses, investing in the original company, or contracting projects” (Yang 2018). Kvanefjeld (1) The rare earth elements, uranium and zinc project at Kvanefjeld has reached advanced stage in the approval process. The project is 100% owned by Greenland Minerals Ltd. (GML), which has a shareholder base of 75% from Western countries and an 11% investment from Shenghe Resources Holding (Shenghe) from China. In 2018 it is estimated that about 2000 people will be needed to build the project and about 800 people to operate the site (ACRM 2018). The Social Impact Assessment of the project anticipated about 1200 employees to work during the peak construction phase, with 200 Greenlandic citizens working on the Project (Shared Resources Pty Ltd 2018: 70). Since GML is emphasizing the future potential of this project as well as the need for additional cost optimization and third-party financing of basic infrastructure, the project appears to have not yet reached the construction phase (GML 2019a). At least until March 2019 the company was still conducting feasibility studies, inter alia with the engineering company China Communications Construction Co. (CCCC) to reduce construction costs (GML 2019c: 3). According to GML, the company is working with Shenghe, one of the world’s biggest companies active in mining and rare earth processing, to integrate Kvanefjeld in the value chain of rare earth separation and processing (GML 2019b). Shenghe is a SOE located in the Sichuan province, which has the state-run Chengdu Institute for the Multipurpose Utilization of Mineral Resources as largest shareholder. In 2019 Shenghe as GML’s largest shareholder formed a joint-venture (JV) with subsidiaries of the SOE conglomerate China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) called China Nuclear Hua Sheng Mining Ltd. Hua Sheng is described as the designated agent for importing rare earth from Kvanefjeld for further processing to China. The forming of this JV is to be viewed against the background of a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), that GML entered with Shenghe in 2018 about the offtake of the total rare earth elements from Kvanefjeld (GML 2019d).14 The investment in GML and engagement in Kvanefjeld is said to be the result of a meeting between Jiang Daming, the Chinese Minister of Land and Resources, and officials from Nuuk in 2015 (Yang 2018). The course of action taken by Shenghe in this projects suggests a

14 Cf.

The Social Impact Assessment conducted for the Government of Greenland recommended, that mechanical (concentrator) and chemical (refinery) processing of REE would have a more positive socio-economic impact on Greenland, than just to do initial processing before further levels of processing are conducted abroad (Shared Resources Pty Ltd. 2018: 162ff).


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very focused approach in securing access in materials considered as strategic important by the Chinese government (Kuo and Tang 2015; State Council Information Office 2012). Citronen Fjord (2) The Citronen Fjord zinc project is another mining project, to which large deposits of raw materials are attributed. Yet, it is still under construction and the Australian company Ironbark invited China Nonferrous Metal Industry’s Foreign Engineering and Construction Co., Ltd. (NFC) to the project. In 2017 both parties signed a nonbinding MOU to advance the Citronen project with Chinese equipment and Chinese equity contributing to the construction (Ironbark 2018a). Approximately 300 workers would be employed for the construction and 470 people for the operation of the mine (ACRM 2018). However, up until end of 2019 Ironbark has not announced, that the construction of the sited with NFC as partner has materialized (Ironbark 2019a). Further, according to Ironbark Citronen is to 100% owned by the company, and no major shareholder from China contributes to the capital structure of Ironbark (Ironbark 2018b, 2019b).15 The Chinese involvement in this project appears to be limited—at least for the moment—to participation in the future construction process. Isua (3) While the previous two projects are at least in the development stage, the iron ore project in Isua is completely on hold (ACRM 2018). The UK-based London Mining Company, which purchased the Isua claim from Rio Tinto in 2005, conducted exploration activities and was looking for international investors to develop the claim. The erosion of raw material prices, however, did not make the project attractive enough for internationally established mining companies, and only Chinese firms signaled interest during their continued expansion in the late 2000s. The plan of London Mining to attract Chinese investors was very ill-received by the public, due to estimates of the Greenland government (not the company itself!) to employ 1500–3000 Chinese workers for the construction of the project (Foley 2018: 102). In 2014 the Chinese conglomerate General Nice Group took over London Mining Greenland A/S and the exploitation rights at Isua (Sørensen 2018b: 88). Since then the new Chinese owner is on the lookout for increasing iron ore prices before making investments to develop the site (ACRM 2018). Wegner Halvø (4) The Wegner Halvø copper project has not received the same degree of attention as the other projects, but in contrast to the previous cases it is already operating. In this project the Chinese consortium Jiangxi Union Mining, which consists of private and public companies, engaged in the joint-venture called China-Nordic Mining Company Ltd. together with Nordic Mining from the UK. The major private Chinese investor involved in this project is Jiangxi Zhongrun Mining. It is rumored that 15 The smallest shareholder, that deserves to be separately mentioned as “top shareholder” is Glencore, which owns 6.9% of Ironbark shares. So, if there is a Chinese shareholder it must own less than Glencore.

China in the Arctic and the Case of Greenland


this company functioned as middleman by establishing a joint venture and then taking state-owned investment partners like Jiangxi Copper on board as member of the Jiangxi Union consortium. The ownership structure of this formation and the supposedly private Jiangxi Zhongrun is rather intransparent, and the SOE Jiangxi Copper would as one of the largest mining companies in the world probably be able to develop the site alone (Boersma and Foley 2014: 46ff; Yang 2018). This brief overview reveals, that the size and the number of mining projects with Chinese participation in Greenland is still very limited. Furthermore, only one mining projects has an operating status, and except for the decommissioned Isua iron ore project, all mining activities of Chinese investors are in partnership with Western companies. Therefore, the findings presented here are supportive of Foley, who argues, that the discourse on Chinese investments in Greenland in the beginning 2010s was very often not based on the factual developments at that time (Foley 2018: 100). This finding still holds true today.

Assessing China’s Arctic Engagement After commodity prices peaked in the late 2000s, the collapse of raw material prices made it obvious that the Greenland authorities may have been over-optimistic about the economic exploitation of Greenland’s recognized mining potential. The costs and difficulties of Arctic operations make—for a not foreseeable future—other destinations in the world more attractive for investment (Foley 2018: 101; Lackenbauer et al. 2018: 108). Chinese investors act like other international investors according to the main condition for economic commitment—the profitability of a project (Sørensen 2018b: 88). For this reason, Isua is on hold, and the other projects face the same limitation as other (foreign) mining projects on Greenland. Considering the small scale of Chinese investment in Greenland, it is not surprising that Greenland today is rather disappointed over the lack of Chinese commitment to develop the islands resources, as Sørensen writes (2018b: 92). Further, in contrast to the common narrative of China creeping into the Arctic and Greenland, China was very welcome to invest, initially by Denmark and Greenland and later especially by Greenland (Mortensen et al. 2016: 193; Foley 2018: 98). Like the limited volume of Chinese investment, this welcoming attitude is often forgotten in today’s polarized debate about geo-strategic positioning and theoretical political threats. The point here is not to neglect the potential political implications of Chinese investments in Greenland, but to advocate a more fact-based assessment of the situation. Nevertheless, critical questions are justified. First, there is no question that the political and economic spheres in China are closely intertwined. This nexus is exemplified in the huge state-owned enterprises in


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China, that serve economic and political purposes.16 In an in-depth study on Chinese economic statecraft, Norris (2016: 228) found out that in the context of the “Going out” strategy the Chinese state especially in the raw material sector is able, though not in each case, to effectively coordinate its commercial actors. In the case of Greenland, Yang Jiang observed, that the Chinese engagement on the island may have started as commercial activities of Chinese companies. However, it is common practice that these companies seek to align themselves to the Chinese government and the proclaimed economic goals of the communist party to gain support, e.g. from state banks (Yang 2018). In this context it is not important that these projects may have started due to economic considerations, because finally it was the Chinese state (the principal) that was able to control SOE or private company decision making process (the agent) (Cf. Norris 2016). As mentioned earlier, it is a misconception, that the Chinese government is an uncontested leader with a clear strategy. China’s Arctic policy and the involved institutions are not free of this ambiguity (Lackenbauer et al. 2018: 58). Conflicting opinions between government departments results in different priorities and behavior, thereby affecting the effectiveness of the principalagent relation. For example, Andersson et al. argues (2018), that the Kvanefjeld rare earth projects is tied to a national resource strategy, and the Citronen zinc project is driven by foreign policy interests of China to engage in the Arctic, with zinc as byproduct. The way in which Shenghe intends to become involved in Kvanefjeld and diversify its foreign supply of rare earths, as well as the extent of Chinese involvement at Citronen, support this assumption. Therefore, despite the small scale of these projects the question is justified, to which degree these investments are motivated by rather political than economic considerations. Secondly, another important issue is the lack of transparency with regard to the operations of Chinese firms and their ownership structure (cf. Foley 2018: 104). This lack of information becomes apparent in the case of the joint-venture with the Jiangxi conglomerate. Today Chinese scholars acknowledge this criticism and skepticism. However, the common suggestions in Chinese articles appear to have more to do with public relation campaigns for Chinese SOE’s, and the recommendation for Chinese companies to respect local laws, which is self-evident, seem to miss the real cause of growing worries about China’s intent in the region (cf. Pan and Wang 2018). Therefore, further reforms restricting the role of the state in China’s economic activities and generating more transparency on internal processes would be for Beijing’s own benefit (cf. Norris 2016: 224ff). This would help to prevent unfounded prejudices about China’s “hidden ambitions” and it would mitigate legitimate worries about future implications of Chinese investments. If this is not happening, joint ventures or other forms of compulsory company cooperation might provide good opportunities to take China in, while not losing track of the developments.

16 Cf.

Sheng and Zhao (2013), Norris (2016), Naughton and Tsai (2015). In the past SOE had primarily social responsibilities (labor, social security, etc.). Today the assigned tasks were extended to (economic) security issues.

China in the Arctic and the Case of Greenland


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Ren, S. (2017). Legal issues in Arctic scientific research: A Chinese perspective. In T. Koivurova, et al. (Eds.), Arctic law and governance: The role of China, Finland and the EU (pp. 43–64). Oxford: Hart Publishing. Runge, O. M. (2017). Arctic rivalries: Friendly competition or dangerous conflict? (DIIS Working Paper 6). Kopenhagen: Danish Institute for International Studies. Shared Resources Pty Ltd. (2018). Greenland Minerals Limited and Greenland Minerals & Energy A/S Kvanefjeld project: Social impact assessment. https://naalakkersuisut.gl/~/media/Nanoq/ Files/Publications/Raastof/ENG/English%20version%20of%20the%20SIA%20statement% 20of%20June%2011%202019.pdf. Sheng, H., & Zhao, N. (2013). China’s state-owned enterprises: Nature, performance and reform. New Jersey: World Scientific. Shi, M., & Lanteigne, M. (2018). The (many) roles of Greenland in China’s developing Arctic policy. The Diplomat. https://thediplomat.com/2018/03/the-many-roles-of-greenland-in-chinasdeveloping-arctic-policy/. Simpson, J. (2018, December 18). BBC: How Greenland could become China’s Arctic base. BBC. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-46386867. Sørensen, C. (2018a). China as an Arctic great power (Policy Brief). Kopenhagen: Royal Danish Defence College. Sørensen, C. (2018b). Chinese investment in Greenland: Promises and risks as seen from Nuuk, Copenhagen and Beijing. In K. Kristensen & J. Rahbek-Clemmensen (Eds.), Greenland and the international politics of a changing Arctic (pp. 83–97). London: Routledge. Sørensen, C., & Klimenko, E. (2017). Emerging Chinese-Russian cooperation in the Arctic: Possibilities and constraints (SIPRI Policy Paper 46). Stockholm: SIPRI. State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China. (2012). Situation and policies of China’s rare earth industry. http://www.gov.cn/zhengce/2012-06/20/content_2618561.htm. State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China. (2018). China’s Arctic policy. http://english.www.gov.cn/archive/white_paper/2018/01/26/content_281476026660336.htm. Stepien, A. (2017). Incentives, practices and opportunities for Arctic external factors’ engagement with indigenous peoples. In T. Koivurova, et al. (Eds.), Arctic law and governance: The role of China, Finland and the EU (pp. 205–232). Oxford: Hart Publishing. Sun, K., & Wang, C. (2014a). Zhongguo canyu beiji shiwu de zhanlue xuanze—jiyu zhanlue guanli de SWOT fenxi shijiao (Strategic choice for China’s participation in Arctic affairs: Analysis based on SWOT approach). Guoji luntan (International Forum), 16(3), 49–55. Sun, K., & Wang, C. (2014b). Guo wai dui Zhongguo canyu beiji shiwu de bu tong jiedu ji qi yingdui (Different interpretations of China’s participation in Arctic affairs abroad and the responses to them). Guoji guangxi yanjiu (Global Studies Journal), 1, 31–39. Tamnes, R., & Offerdal, K. (2014). Conclusion. In R. Tamnes & K. Offerdal (Eds.), Geopolitics and security in the Arctic: Regional dynamics in a global world (pp. 167–177). London: Routledge. Treadgold, T. (2019, August 19). Trump might want to buy Greenland but his Nemesis, China, is there before him. https://www.forbes.com/sites/timtreadgold/2019/08/19/trump-might-want-tobuy-greenland-but-his-nemesis-china-is-there-before-him/#20ce5d513f3c. Wang, Z., & Chen, Y. (2018). Zhong e dazao „bingshang sichou zhilu“ de jiyu yu tiaozhan (China and Russia’s collaboration in constructing the supraglacial silk road: Opportunities and challenge). Dongbeiya luntan (Northeast Asia Forum), 136(2), 117–127. Wang, S., Jiang, C., & Jin, X. (2018). Beiji de zhanlue yiyi ji youqi ziyuan kaifa (The strategic significance of the Arctic and the development of oil and gas resources). Zhongguo kuangye (China Mining Magazine), 27(1), 20–39. Willi, M., & Depledge, D. (2015). How we learned to stop worrying about China’s Arctic ambitions: Understanding China’s admission to the Arctic Council, 2004–2013. In L. Jensen & G. Hønneland (Eds.), Handbook of the politics of the Arctic (pp. 388–407). Cheltenham: Edward Elger. World Nuclear News. (2019, January 23). New Chinese JV for rare earth minerals from Greenland. http://world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/New-Chinese-JV-for-rare-earth-minerals-from.

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Wright, D. (2011). The dragon eyes the top of the world: Arctic policy debate and discussion in China. Newport: U.S. Naval War College. Xiao, Y. (2014). Paita xing kaifang: beiji lishihui de “menluo zhuyi“ luoji (Exclusivity open: “Monroe doctrine”-logic of the Arctic Council). Taipingyang xuebao (Pacific Journal), 22(9), 12–19. Xu, Q. (2019). Zhongguo dui beiji touzi de zhiyue yinsu yu tuijin lujing (Barriers to China’s Arctic investment and ways forward). Xin Shiye (New Perspective), 1, 70–75. Yang J. (2018). China in Greenland (DIIS Policy Brief). https://www.diis.dk/en/research/china-ingreenland. Yang, Z., & Liu, X. (2014). Beiji zhili de Zhongguo canyu wenti yanjiu zongshu (A review of China’s participation in the Arctic governance). Zhongguo Haiyang daxue xuebao (shehuike xueban) (Journal of Ocean University of China (Social Science Edition)), 4, 32–37. Zhang, X. (2018). Jinglue beiji jinzao xingdong (As early as possible take action to plan and control the Arctic). Xianzhuang qushi (Status and Trends), 7, 20–27. Zhao, L. (2018). Jing Beibingyang lianjie ouzhou de lanse jingji tongdao duijie eluosi beifang hangdao fuxing (Aligning the blue economic passage leading up to Europe via the Arctic Ocean with Russia’s reviving Northern Sea Route: From identification to harmonization). Taipingyang xuebao (Pacific Journal), 26(1), 82–91. Zhu, X., & Zhang, Y. (2018). Guanche shijiu da jingshen dazao “beishang sichou zhilu”: Jilin Daxue—Eluosi jiunshi kexueyuan “bingshang sichou zhilu” yanlunhui bitan (Carrying out the spirit of the 19th National Congress of CPC and constructing the supraglacial silk road: Editor’s note of the “supraglacial silk road” academic conference co-hosted by Jilin University and Russian Academy of Military Science). Dongbeiya luntan (Northeast Asia Forum), 136(2), 3–7.

Johannes Mohr is non-resident fellow at the Institute for Security Studies at Kiel University. He studied sinology, politics and international law in Hamburg and Kiel, and he conducted several research stays in China. In his research he focuses on Chinese foreign and economic policies, and especially the Chinese political discourse on these issues. In his PhD project Johannes Mohr is analyzing Chinese direct investment in Europe.

The European Union and the Arctic: A Decade into Finding Its Arcticness Andreas Raspotnik and Adam St˛epien´

Introduction The Arctic is a region in transformation. Facing challenges driven by resource demands, shifting power relations and climate change, the top of the world also demands the attention of an international actor that has not necessarily always been perceived as an Arctic one: the European Union (EU). Over the last ten years, the EU has felt an Arctic allure, with its various institutions attempting to formulate a coherent policy approach for its ‘Northern Neighbourhood.’ Yet, what role does the Arctic offer for the EU? How can a Union of 27 states— only three of them Arctic, but most of them non-Arctic—protect its regional interests in an increasingly globalized circumpolar North? Moreover, what are these interests? After the EU’s decade-long northern efforts with only minor progress, one pivotal question remains: what is the future of the EU’s Arctic role? So far, the EU’s decade-long involvement in the Arctic can be characterized by ambivalence. On the one hand, the Union has an obvious presence in the north in terms of geography, legal competence, market access or its environmental footprint and contribution to Arctic science. Its Member States Denmark (on behalf of Greenland, which itself is outside of the EU), Finland and Sweden are located in the region; and the EU has close relationships with the other five Arctic states. On the other hand, three factors have made the EU’s efforts to become constructively involved in the Arctic both controversial and complex. These factors are its lack of direct access to the Arctic Ocean, which seems to be key of conventional ‘Arcticness’ (Dodds 2012), its slightly paternalistic Arctic policy statements portraying the EU as part of the A. Raspotnik (B) High North Center for Business and Governance, Nord University, Universitetsalléen 11, 8026 Bodø, Norway e-mail: [email protected] A. St˛epie´n Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 J. Weber (ed.), Handbook on Geopolitics and Security in the Arctic, Frontiers in International Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-45005-2_8



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‘solution’ to the region’s real or perceived challenges without sufficiently taking into considerations Arctic sensitivities, and the sustained difficulty to find a convincing Arctic narrative that would attract broader attention throughout the Member States (St˛epie´n and Raspotnik 2019b). This chapter will go to the bottom of the EU’s decade-long search to find and understand its Arcticness.1 We will first outline the EU’s gateways to the Arctic by identifying its legal, environmental, research and economic links to the region. This is followed by a discussion on the EU’s Arctic efforts to communicate its Arctic interests via the development of a distinct EU policy for the Arctic. We will conclude with an analysis of the various problems of the EU’s Arcticness.

The European Union’s Gateways to the Arctic The EU is no stranger to its ‘northern neighbourhood’ and holds multiple links to the Arctic, on both geographical, legal, economic, environmental, research and regional development-related levels. However, in geographical and legal terms, the EU’s externality as regards the majority of Arctic states represents a major constraint on the EU’s ‘Arcticness’. The EU has no coastline to the Arctic Ocean, and EU law applies in the Arctic directly only to Finland and Sweden, and via the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement, to Iceland and Norway (excluding the Archipelago of Svalbard). Hence, foreign policy plays an essential role in respect to EU Arctic activities. This includes, for instance, the EU’s cooperative efforts with Russia in the European Arctic, and its engagement within the Arctic Council (AC).2 Clearly, the EU is an Arctic actor. Not only are three of its Member States considered Arctic, but the EU also holds a strong, multidimensional regional presence. This includes, among many others, being one of the regulators of human activities in the European Arctic, the EU’s contribution to Arctic research as well as its participation in regional regimes such as the AC. The EU’s economy and population also affects the region via an environmental and climate footprint, as well as its market influence, essentially contributing to the demand for Arctic resources. Moreover, EU policies—such as climate change mitigation efforts, clean air policy or raw materials strategies—have an impact on these environmental and economic footprints.

1 For

the purposes of this chapter, we define ‘Arcticness’ as the EU’s decade-long endeavour to internally determine its Arctic identity, as well as externally justifying its regional presence as a stakeholder mostly located outside the Arctic. 2 After attending several AC ministerial meetings as ad hoc observer, the European Commission officially applied, on behalf of the EU, for AC observer status in December 2008. However, predominantly due to (now solved) Canadian and (still existing) Russian concerns, official observer status has not yet been granted to the EU (Raspotnik 2018: 91–92). However, the EU has obtained de facto observer status and the ‘right to attend all AC meetings (…) without having to receive an invitation each time’ (Garcés de los Fayos 2015: 2).

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A Strong European Legal Feature The return of a geopolitical Arctic in 2007/08 undoubtedly directed the EU’s attention to the region. And yet, the area, in particular its European part, had already returned to the EU institutional and jurisdictional screen a decade earlier when Finland and Sweden joined the EU in 1995 and the EEA introduced a European single market area in 1994. Consequently, the EU’s acquis communautaire covers an extensive area of the geographical European Arctic.3 Figure 1 visualises this geographical space, also including Greenland and parts of North-West Russia. Thus, and from a state-centric perspective, five out of the eight Arctic states are EU/EEA states, namely Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Furthermore, the EU is, by virtue of its Member States and EEA relations, represented at the AC, either via the AC’s Member States, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, or its observers, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands and Spain (St˛epie´n and Koivurova 2016: 22–23). However, international emphasis concerning an active and politically participative role of the EU in the Arctic has been predominantly put on the geographical fact of the EU not having an actual European shoreline on the Arctic Ocean (Koivurova et al. 2012: 361), which holds true after Greenland withdrew from the European Economic Community in 1985. And yet, this does not mean that EU law does not apply to the Arctic region. Generally, many EU regulations and policies also affect the Arctic indirectly, via what could be called ‘external governance’. First, the EU understood as a major global market, economy and population influences the Arctic environment and economy via pollution reaching the Arctic from Europe as well as owing to the EU’s demand for Arctic resources. Second, the EU can influence the development of international norms that are of relevance for the Arctic. For instance, EU competences as regards maritime transport have made the Union an important actor in international negotiations on Arctic maritime navigation, leading for the example to the adoption of mandatory Polar Code standards. The European Commission (Commission) is also one of the key players in international negotiations on the protection of biodiversity in the areas beyond national jurisdiction. This process can be of high importance for the future governance of the Central Arctic Ocean (CAO). Accordingly, the Union was among the few non-Arctic actors involved in the CAO fisheries agreement negotiations (Schatz et al. 2019). Other international regimes that should be mentioned are climate change related ones as well as instruments dedicated to long-range pollution, such as the Minamata Convention on Mercury and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), where the EU can influence the placing of new POPs on the list of substances to be eliminated or restricted. The negotiations 3 The

EU has pulled competences from its Member States and manages some policy areas at the supranational level. In some domains, the EU has exclusive competences, such as international trade or the conservation of living marine resources (e.g. allocating fishing quotas). In other areas, the EU shares competences with its Member States, for example regarding environment, energy, international transport, and European transport networks. If we consider part of EU policies operating in Northern Fennoscandia to constitute elements of the EU’s Arctic policy, then virtually all policy domains mentioned above may be one way or another Arctic-relevant.


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Fig. 1 European Arctic as defined in the strategic assessment of development of the Arctic. Source St˛epie´n et al. (2014: 4)

on the conservation and management of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction would ideally lead to facilitating the establishment of effective marine protected areas in high seas, potentially also in the Arctic. The EU is an active participant to these negotiations. Third, the EU may have a certain impact on entities operating in the Arctic. For instance, the EU can set rules for maritime traffic via its Member States’ port state and flag state authorities—which rules are applicable to all vessels travelling via the Arctic and calling at European ports (Liu 2013). Another example is the 2013 offshore oil and gas safety regulation, which obliges companies registered in EU Member States to report any accidents taking place on their installations, even if such accidents take place outside EU waters.

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Additionally, the EU can influence the European Arctic through its various funding schemes. EU structural programmes are important for Finnish and Swedish regions, which struggle to overcome limitations arising from long distances and sparse population. EU-supported cross-border co-operation programmes such as the Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme operate across the region, including Greenland. Cooperation with Russia is facilitated by cross-border programmes, especially the Kolarctic Programme and via four Northern Dimension (ND) partnerships. Moreover, the EU provides support for the development of education and training in Greenland as a part of the EU-Greenland Partnership Agreement. European Arctic regions are also directly affected by the EU’s environmental, transport, energy or competition legislation. The Natura 2000 network, the Habitats and Bird Directives have established a strong conservation framework for vast tracks of European Arctic ecosystems. Policies supporting renewable energy developments contribute to the facilitation of wind power investments in the North. EU legislation also influences the environmental performance of mining industry in Northern Fennoscandia,4 for instance via rules on waste management or chemicals (van Dam et al. 2014).5

The EU and Its Environmental Arctic Footprint Over the last decade(s) the Arctic has experienced substantial climate change—with warming twice the average global rate—that essentially impinges upon the physical and biological conditions of the circumpolar North. Eventually, the continuing loss of Arctic (sea) ice and climate feedback loops will only act as a catalyst for regional transformation in the years and decades to come with threats to human and species’ habitats—inside and outside the Arctic. The EU’s original interest in the Arctic was essentially related to environmental changes taking place in the region, and primarily to climate impacts. As a matter of fact, the Commission’s very first Communication on Arctic matters in 2008 highlights the EU’s responsibility for its distinct Arctic environmental footprint (Raspotnik 2018: 134). Climate change mitigation is still what chiefly contributes to maintaining the flame of attention under the EU Arctic policy pot, see Section “Justifying Its Arctic Presence: The EU’s Arctic Policy Documents”. Changes in the Arctic are believed to have a significant influence on Europe, 4 Fennoscandia

means Finland, Norway and Sweden, with a different geographical scope than Nordic or Scandinavian states. The term may also be related to the geological formation of the Fennoscandian Shield, which also includes Russian Karelia, the Murmansk region and the Kola Peninsula. 5 For example, Directive 2006/21/EC on the management of waste from the extractive industries and Directive 99/31EC; Directive 2000/60/EC of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy (extended later to the EEA) and Directive 2006/118/EC of 12 December 2006 on the protection of groundwater against pollution and deterioration; Council Directive 92/91/EEC of 3 November 1992 concerning the minimum requirements for improving the safety and health protection of workers in the mineral-extracting industries through drilling; Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of 18 December 2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH).


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including on weather patterns and precipitation with Northern Fennoscandia being among the fastest warming parts of the continent. Implications are also expected to have ramifications for European economy and resource markets. Thus, understanding Arctic environmental change is perceived as crucial (St˛epie´n et al. 2016). At the same time, the EU’s impacts on the Arctic environment constitute an important part of justification for the EU’s status as an Arctic stakeholder. Thus, already in 2010, the Commission authorized a study to assess the EU’s Arctic footprint and assess the effectiveness of relevant policies (Cavalieri et al. 2010). Among the major industrialized regions of the Northern Hemisphere, the EU is the closest to the Arctic. As a result, the continent is an important source of pollutants coming from outside of the region. For instance, a quarter of mercury reaching the Arctic from southern latitudes is emitted within the EU. Various EU policies (e.g. POPs regulations) that influence European emissions of persistent organic pollutants, mercury, acidifying pollutants (Sulphur and nitrogen oxides) or short-live climate pollutants (black carbon and methane) can translate to the number of contaminants reaching Arctic environment via wind patterns and ocean currents. Additionally, around 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions originate in the EU, directly corresponding to the EU’s responsibility for global, and thus also Arctic, heating (Boden et al. 2017; Ritchie and Roser 2017). Consequently, while in fact unrelated to any actions taken in the Arctic, the EU’s climate action has become a key component of the Union’s Arctic policy (St˛epie´n and Raspotnik 2019b: 1–2).

Watch Your Step: An EU-Arctic Research Footprint Both the EU and its Member States have been a major financial contributor, via its research programmes FP5 to FP7 and Horizon2020, to international research activities and the development of Arctic research infrastructure throughout the last decade. Research institutions located in EU member states, such as the German Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) or the French Polar Institute Paul Emile Victor (IPEV) are among the most important actors in Arctic science. EU-funded research and the EU’s support for Arctic monitoring and sustained observation significantly contributes to the better understanding of Arctic environmental and climate changes, and ultimately, towards safeguarding Arctic environment and understanding region’s influence on the rest of the globe.6 EU research projects are also expected to support development and deployment of innovative technologies in the Arctic, which is one of the objectives of the EU’s Arctic policy (European Commission and High Representative 2016: 10). Within the current framework of Horizon 2020, the EU provides

6 EU

space programmes and the EU’s support for initiatives such as the Svalbard Integrated Arctic Earth Observing System or Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks (SAON) are important for Arctic observation and monitoring.

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funding for a number of research projects dedicated to the Arctic or of high relevance for the Arctic. Among major EU-funded projects are APPLICATE7 , aimed at enhancing weather and climate prediction capabilities or INTERACT8 which aims at coordinating Arctic research infrastructures. The EU also formed the EU-PolarNet9 , a network of European institutions with an aim to co-design an Integrated European Polar Research Programme and develop an Infrastructure Implementation Plan. Furthermore, EU-funded projects have joined forces in a network called the EU Arctic Cluster, responding to earlier calls for increased cooperation and synergy-seeking between substantially related projects.

Lastly, An Arctic Economic Footprint? In comparison to the replicable territorial, legal, environmental and research dimensions of EU Arctic presence, the economic stake of a related EU/Arctic nexus remains rather hypothetical. For one thing this can be accounted for by the vagueness of current and future Arctic economic development as such, but to a similar extent by the related, uncertain economic Arctic orientation of the EU. By nature of its spatial proximity, Europe has always had some kind of economic influence on the broader Arctic region and exploited regional resources for centuries. The EU–Arctic economic picture is currently characterised by strong trade interdependencies between the EU and the Arctic states with the Union’s single market covering an extensive part of the European Arctic. Generally, the EU has a variety of economic regional interest, including the potential for enhancing energy, raw materials and food security. However, the EU Arctic policy statements fail to specifically assess and pronounce these interests. That may be partly a communicative choice, as the EU does not want to present itself as an actor interested primarily in securing access to Arctic resources. At the same time, EU’s demand for Arctic living and non-living resources is one of the factors driving feasibility and profitability of their exploitation. For instance, the EU accounts for 30–40% of fish imports from Arctic countries, and 24% of final demand for products from the Arctic oil and gas industry (Cavalieri et al. 2010). Various EU policies may affect the level of this demand and—less likely— encourage or hinder the level in which that demand is satisfied specifically by Arctic resources. For instance, EU action on climate change could in the long-term affect European demand for Arctic hydrocarbons, while at the same time able to increase the demand for various minerals necessary for renewable energy expansion—many of which are extracted or deposited in Arctic bedrocks. The EU’s influence could also entail setting examples of standards and best practices. This becomes of particular importance as increasing number of countries call for defining Arctic standards for 7 https://applicate.eu. 8 https://eu-interact.org. 9 https://www.eu-polarnet.eu.


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different activities. However, the EU’s sway in the Arctic will be rather limited, as generally Arctic actors have confidence in their own expertise and governance frameworks.10 As visible from this section, the EU already has multiple links to the Arctic region. Referring to these ties as the ‘EU’s Arctic credentials’, a Commission official responsible for Arctic affairs emphasised that the EU is part of the Arctic, linked to the Arctic and simultaneously affects and is affected by the Arctic.11 Østhagen consensually stressed that ‘it can be argued that the EU is by all means an Arctic actor’ (2013: 86). Similarly, Bailes underlined that the EU’s stakes in the region do not ‘stand or fall just on calculations of geo-strategic [namely, geographical] presence’ (2010: 220). And yet, how to justify ones Arctic dimension and communicate its interests?

Justifying Its Arctic Presence: The EU’s Arctic Policy Documents Ever since 2008, the EU and its various institutional actors have slowly but steadily developed a dedicated EU Arctic policy, setting common positions, stressing the Union’s Arctic credentials and prominently expressing its very own ‘Arcticness’—the multifaceted, nonetheless intrinsically connected dimensions of EU–Arctic, Arctic– EU entanglement (Raspotnik 2018: 65–85), with reference to many aspects discussed in the previous section.12 And yet the region has not achieved a prominent place on the EU’s both domestic and foreign policy table over the last two decades (St˛epie´n and Raspotnik 2019b). At the turn of the millennium, EU–Arctic deliberations lacked momentum, despite strengthened physical regional presence, for example through the establishment of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) where the Commission had become a full member, the accession of Finland and Sweden and the related development of the ND13 , and continuing cooperation efforts with Russia (Raspotnik 2018: 87–89). It 10 To a certain extent this limitation aspect also holds true for the EU’s market power as only Norway, in terms of oil and gas, and Greenland and Iceland, as regards fisheries, are primarily dependent on the EU market. 11 Policy officer, DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, European Commission, interview conducted in Brussels on 4 September 2012. 12 It is important to note that the EU’s multidimensional Arctic presence also gives an indication of the diverse meaning of both the ‘EU in the Arctic’, as well as ‘the EU’ as an international actor. Accordingly, ‘the EU’ can not only signify, inter alia, a strong market and economy community, a source of regulations, a combination of its three main institutional bodies, but also the grouping of its Member States. 13 Between 1999 and 2006, the ND was an EU umbrella policy aimed at facilitating synergies between different EU policies and instruments applicable to cooperation in Northern Europe. From 2006 onwards, the ND was reformulated as a joint policy between the EU, Iceland, Norway and Russia, with common budget and objectives, implemented via four sectoral partnerships.

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was particularly the ND—first as an EU umbrella framework, then after 2006 as a joint policy between the EU, Iceland, Norway and Russia—and its ‘Arctic window’ that could have been used more extensively to raise Arctic awareness within the EU’s institutional framework in order to enshrine the region in the EU’s political agenda (Weber 2014: 48).14 However, before 2007/2008, the Arctic remained ‘a marginal note in EU foreign policy—a periphery of the periphery’ (Raspotnik 2018: 91). It was only the summer/autumn events of 2007—with a Russian flag being planted more than 4000 m beneath the North Pole, and a record low in the average extent of Arctic sea ice—that began to spark Arctic debate in the institutional corridors of Brussels. As noted by Hix, ‘EU foreign policies are essentially reactive rather than proactive: responding to global events rather than shaping them’ (2005: 398). The contours of a such a ‘reactive’ Arctic approach became evident in 2008, when the Commission issued its first Communication on The European Union and the Arctic Region, preceded by a HR/Commission joint paper on Climate Change and International Security (High Representative and European Commission 2008) and an EP Resolution on Arctic Governance (European Parliament 2008). Thus, the year 2008 might be taken as the official starting point for the EU’s Arctic storyline. However, in contrast to the European north and its plethora of international regimes where the EU is seen as a key partner, the mandate and role for the EU in the Arctic (and the AC) is rather limited (Aalto 2013: 102). Thus, and in order to express the EU’s very own ‘Arcticness’, the EU’s main institutions—the Commission, the Council of the European Union (Council) and the European Parliament (EP)—have slowly been setting common positions since 2007/2008. To date, the list of EU Arctic policy documents includes ten policy documents (plus the above-mentioned joint policy statement on Climate Change and International Security from 14 March 2008), see Fig. 2. Additionally, the Arctic region has also been cross-referenced in, inter alia, the Integrated Maritime Policy of 2007, the Maritime Security Strategy of 2008

2009 2011 2012 2014 2016 2017

HR and Commission Paper on Climate Change and International Security EP Resolution on Arctic governance Commission Communication on The European Union and the Arctic region Council Conclusions on Arctic issues EP Resolution on A sustainable EU policy for the High North Commission and HR Joint Communication on Developing a European Union Policy towards the Arctic Region: progress since 2008 and next steps EP Resolution on the EU strategy for the Arctic Council Conclusions on Developing a European Union Policy towards the Arctic Region Commission and HR Joint Communication on An integrated European Union policy for the Arctic Council Conclusions on the Arctic EP Resolution on An integrated EU policy for the Arctic

Fig. 2 The EU’s Arctic policy milestones, 2008–17. Source Raspotnik (2018: 93) 14 The ND’s Arctic window turned out to mean not much more that Greenland, Iceland and the northernmost Norwegian regions became part of the ND. Rather than a pillar of the EU’s Arctic policy, the ND itself remains an element of a broader framework established or co-created by the EU to maintain cooperative cross-border relations with Russia in northern Europe.


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2014 and, most recently, in the 2016 Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy for the European Union (Commission of the European Communities 2007; Council of the European Union 2014; High Representative 2016). Over the last decade, the EU has been able to communicate the scope of its regional presence and has generally demonstrated an ‘appropriate’ understanding of the region and its sensitivities. And yet, despite this institutional progress, no single Arctic strategy has been developed that would comprehensively guide EU Arctic action in all regionally relevant sectors and boost regional awareness in the centres of European power (St˛epie´n and Raspotnik 2019a). Ten years after the 2008 Communication, the EU remains caught in an unconventional mix of internal, crossborder and external policies regarding the Arctic, blurring the line between what are perceived as domestic or foreign, internal or external, soft or hard politics. Eventually, the EU Arctic policy domain encompasses many issues, sectors and stakeholders, some interlinked, some connected only via an ‘Arctic’ label (St˛epie´n and Raspotnik 2019a). The most recent policy statement from the Commission and the HR is the Joint Communication on an integrated European Union policy for the Arctic, published in 2016. The document was an attempt to emphasise the most important areas of EU engagement—after the 2012 Joint Communication trying to mention all issues that could be considered Arctic-relevant in the EU policy system. The 2016 Joint Communication also received strong political support. The document was launched by the High Representative (HR) Federica Mogherini and the Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella. Nonetheless, the Communication remained primarily an overview of existing policies and actions, with only few aspects being future-oriented (St˛epie´n and Raspotnik 2019b: 1). For instance, the EU proposed the European northernmost regions to work on key investment and research priorities for the Arctic, as well as launched a new EU-Arctic meeting place, the annual Arctic Stakeholder Conference. The lack of a long-term vision and limited number of future-oriented actions led to calls for adopting a more ambitious Arctic policy framework, urging the Commission and the HR to propose a new policy in the coming years (European Political Strategy Centre 2019). The EU’s regional commitment has also fluctuated over the last decade as more pressing issues have arisen on the Union’s agenda. Largely, the Arctic is only of peripheral concern for EU policymakers. This leaves the Arctic as a niche policy domain, dominated by special interests ranging from environmental protection to fisheries, from Indigenous Peoples’ rights to regional development in Northern Fennoscandia. In a way, it is the democratic deficit turned on its head. Few seem to pay attention to one-off controversial statements by national politicians in Arctic states, especially when these are non-official or issued in Russian or a Scandinavian language (Raspotnik and Østhagen 2018). Yet, as soon as Members of the EP state that a moratorium on Arctic oil and gas should be implemented, strong northern reactions are guaranteed. Usually, these strong reactions depend on the specific context they are embedded in. Strongest voices are those of Norwegian and at times Icelandic actors, who have a special relationship with the EU decision-making via the EEA. Not being able to vote on the single market rules that are applicable to these two

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countries, Iceland and Norway conduct pre-emptive EU diplomacy, influencing policy developments at the earliest levels or attempting to prevent undesirable notions to surface even in non-binding documents out of fear that loose statements affect legislative processes later on (Østhagen and Raspotnik 2017). Norwegian diplomats have been particularly skilled, active and effective in carrying out such a strategy (Wegge 2012). Other strong reactions to the EU Arctic policy relate to the position of the EU as a market for Arctic resources. It may be about the—implemented— ban on seal products or about the remote possibility of setting special standards for Arctic resources imported into the single market.15 In all such cases, the concern of Arctic actors is that the environmentally-focused EU Arctic policy would result in limitations of placing Arctic resources on the EU market. At the same time, the produce of other regions—unaffected by the environmental symbolism associated with the Arctic—would be free from such limitations and take place of current and future Arctic resources in EU market.

An Arcticness of Many Colours The nature of the EU’s ‘Arctic actorness’ differs significantly between two distinct but interrelated dimensions: the European Arctic and the circumpolar Arctic. These two (idealised) dimensions are both of geographical and substantial character, as they are associated with different set of policy sectors. The European Arctic policy space is characterised by direct application of EU laws and policies or the operation of EU cross-border and intra-regional programmes. The geographical definition of the European Arctic—defined as a region stretching from Greenland to northwest Russia (see Fig. 1)—is fluid from the EU’s perspective. The further from Rovaniemi (Finland) and Luleå (Sweden) one travels, the weaker the EU’s influence, and the fewer the European Arctic linkages. These ‘linkages’ range from full coverage of the EU acquis communautaire and policies in Finland and Sweden, to thin cross-border and ND programme cooperation in northwest Russia. Substantially, European Arctic issues within the Arctic policy are largely terrestrial. They comprise, for example, transport in northern Europe, environmental policies and regulations, local climate adaptation, regional development and the promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship. International cooperation within the European Arctic space is primarily about cross-border and programme. In contrast, circumpolar matters are chiefly of maritime and international in character, relate to maritime shipping, ocean governance and the Arctic Ocean’s high seas. This circumpolar dimension also covers the EU’s environmental footprint, including general climate change mitigation and long-range pollution, neither of which 15 By adopting its Regulation 1007/2009, the EU banned seal products, imported for commercial purposes from its internal market. This led to controversial legal and political debate in Arctic international circles, especially with regard to the EU’s broader support of Arctic indigenous issues, eventually negatively affecting the EU’s application for AC observer status (Sellheim 2015; Wegge 2013).


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are Arctic-specific. The circumpolar Arctic dimension is to a great extent related to the EU’s external action, including the EU’s involvement in the AC as a de facto observer and the participation in Arctic-relevant international processes, such as the instruments for POPs or for Arctic shipping. The EU is indisputably one of the key policy actors in the European Arctic, source of regulation, funding and the facilitator of networks of cooperation. In the circumpolar Arctic, with the exception of science, the EU is an important but clearly a secondary actor. The Union takes part in various processes, but usually as a backseat supporter or a party invited by the Arctic states, as was the case for the CAO fisheries agreement (Schatz et al. 2019). In the context of policy fields related to European Arctic dimensions, the EU is generally accepted as an ‘Arctic actor’. In the circumpolar framing, the EU may be seen as a guest or intruder and its interest may be unrecognized or even considered illegitimate—something unthinkable in the European Arctic context. This leads to contradictory voices among analysts and stakeholders as they try to make sense of the EU’s Arctic identity and presence (De Botselier et al. 2018; Kobza 2015; Offerdal 2011; Østhagen 2013; Raspotnik 2018; St˛epie´n 2015; St˛epie´n and Raspotnik 2019b). The research and Arctic scientific cooperation sector stands out as a policy field— it is circumpolar in scope but EU’s role here is hardly secondary, owing to the key role of European research institutions in Arctic science and substantial EU Arctic research funding. The EU’s role as a co-organiser of the Second Arctic Ministerial Meeting in Berlin in October 2018 is a good example of the general acknowledgment of the EU as an Arctic research actor. Even so, Arctic states treated the EU as an outsider as they adopted the Agreement on the Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation (May 2017), which was agreed between the eight Arctic states. Based on the EU’s involvement in sustainable development issues in the European Arctic, one would assume that the EU could be included in the discussions on sustainable development in the circumpolar context, for example in best practice sharing. That is rarely a case as it may be considered inappropriate for the EU to discuss the development of Arctic communities outside the European Arctic. This is due the symbolic rejection of the EU as an Arctic actor via not awarding the Union with a formal observer status in the AC, which can be seen as Arctic states’ acknowledgment of actors’ legitimate and accepted interests in the region. This rejection was related originally to the ban on the placing of seal products on the EU’s single market, after which the EU policymakers were accused of lack of understanding of Arctic livelihoods and values, and pushing their own value systems on Arctic communities through the use of the EU’s market power. Further, it is interesting to compare the EU with two of its Arctic Member States. Finland and Sweden are broadly acknowledged as Arctic actors and are fully integrated into Arctic international cooperation structures, even without having access to the Arctic Ocean. This recognition of Arctic actorness goes so far that these states appear to be accepted as having certain stakes, expertise and credibility as regards Arctic marine issues, offshore resource extraction and navigational matters, even though they have no sovereignty over any Arctic waters. Their Arctic identity and

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AC membership translated for example to their participation in the two binding agreements on search and rescue (SAR) and oil spills.16 If Arctic identity had not become the requirement to occupy the first-row spot at the Arctic table, the EU (but also China) would probably have been integrated in more Arctic-specific processes. The exception is when the lack of involvement of non-Arctic actors would have translated to ineffectiveness of Arctic states actions, especially in terms of activities that constitute freedoms of the seas, with the Polar Code and CAO fisheries agreement being the most prominent examples.17 The challenge for EU policymakers is that these two policy spaces—the European and the circumpolar one—often become conflated. Looking from outside, the EU is sometimes seen as a key Arctic actor, sometimes as an annoying guest. Within the EU, the discourses related to the two spaces are often divergent: the circumpolar space has usually greater environmental focus, while the European Arctic is more about economic (albeit ideally sustainable) development. The environmental focus of EU documents, referring to circumpolar questions, is a cause of concern for Europe’s northernmost regions, anxious that their developmental ambitions fall victim to Arctic environmental label.18 In turn, developmental statements (investments, entrepreneurship, resources) referring to the European Arctic may be difficult to accept for a part of the broader EU public, when these utterances are read in the context of polar bears and melting (sea) ice rather than declining countryside of Finnmark, Lapland and Norrbotten. To conclude, mixing European Arctic and circumpolar Arctic spaces/dimensions of the EU’s Arctic policy often results in misunderstanding the Union’s regional policy by Arctic stakeholders. The challenge of bringing together different Arcticrelevant EU policies and actions would be eased if the policy objectives and the EU’s role in these two interconnected but distinct policy areas were clarified (St˛epie´n and Raspotnik 2019a).

A New Decade of EU Arcticness Ahead So, what is the role the EU can play in the Arctic in the decade to come? Its direct role in the circumpolar Arctic is restricted, its moral attitude regionally questioned,

16 The scope of these agreements was in fact adjusted so that Finland and Sweden could be parties by making aeronautical search and rescue an element of SAR Agreement and including the Gulf of Bothnia into the oil spills agreement. 17 Although even in these cases, the Arctic states managed to play a key role or acted as gate keepers: it was the five Arctic coastal states that invited other actors to the CAO negotiations, and it was the AC’s AMSA report of that served as one of the triggers for the efforts within the International Maritime Organization to make the Polar shipping guidelines into a mandatory set of standards. 18 Authors’ observation of meetings related to the EU Arctic policy and regional development: Brussels, September 2014; Brussels, May 2016; Luosto, Finland, May 2016; Brussels, November 2017; Brussels, November 2018.


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however its funding mechanisms well perceived. Basically, the EU’s Arctic role centres around two related concepts: engage and comprehend. In terms of engagement, the EU should continue to actively participate in Arctic discussions, aiming to play by the Arctic rulebook, as well as intensify its efforts in its very own European Arctic. This relates in particular to issues such as regional investment efforts—the sustainable development of Northern Fennoscandia—as well as the Union’s financial commitment to Arctic research. However, the key to Arctic access lies in terms of comprehension, especially within the EU’s policymaking circle. At times, decisions-makers are either surprisingly uninformed about the Arctic region or unsurprisingly ignorant about its challenges and global ramifications. Given that the north constitutes one of three essential regional neighbourhoods of direct geopolitical relevance to the EU (the east and the south being the two others), grasping its dynamics and complexities should obviously be a priority. However, to properly grasp its own Arcticness, it is essential to eventually define its interest along the geographic/legal dimensions of regional activity—the EU/circumpolar Arctic divide. Eventually, protecting its Arctic interests goes beyond the use of popular catchphrases and fancy statements, but demands both a clear understanding of the different Arctic regions’ manifold challenges and its own competences to tackle these developments, as well as comprehensible action efforts, both within and beyond EU’s borders.

References Aalto, P. (2013). Explaining the “Arctic Exception” in European Union-Russia relations: What is missing? The Northern Review, 37, 101–125. Bailes, A. J. K. (2010). Potential roles of NATO and the EU in High Northern security. In G. Alfredsson, T. Koivurova, & N. Loukacheva (Eds.), The yearbook of polar law (Vol. 2, pp. 201– 224). Leiden & Boston: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. Boden, T. A., Marland, J., & Andres, R. J. (2017). Global, regional, and national fossil-fuel CO2 emissions. https://cdiac.ess-dive.lbl.gov/trends/emis/overview_2014.html. Accessed September 13, 2019. Cavalieri, S., McGlynn, E., Stoessel, S., Stuke, F., Bruckner, M., Polzin, C., et al. (2010). EU Arctic footprint and policy assessment: Final report. http://arctic-footprint.eu/sites/default/files/AFPA_ Final_Report.pdf. Accessed July 25, 2011. Commission of the European Communities. (2007, October 10). In An integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union (COM(2007) 575 final), Brussels, 10.10.2007. Council of the European Union. (2014). In European Union Maritime Security Strategy (11205/14), Brussels, 24 June 2014. De Botselier, B., Piqueres, S. L., & Schunz, S. (2018). Addressing the “Arctic Paradox”: Environmental Policy Integration in the European Union’s emerging Arctic Policy (No. 3/2018). https://www.coleurope.eu/research-paper/addressing-arctic-paradoxenvironmental-policy-integration-european-unions-emerging. Accessed December 12, 2018. Dodds, K. (2012). Anticipating the Arctic and the Arctic Council: Pre-emption, precaution and preparedness. In T. S. Axworthy, T. Koivurova, & W. Hasanat (Eds.), The Arctic Council: Its

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place in the future of Arctic Governance (pp. 2–28). Toronto: Munk-Gordon Arctic Security Program & University of Lapland. European Commission, & High Representative. (2016). In An Integrated European Union Policy for the Arctic (JOIN(2016) 21 Final), Brussels, 27.4.2016. European Parliament. (2008). In Resolution of 9 October 2008 on Arctic Governance (P6_TA(2008)0474). European Political Strategy Centre. (2019). In Walking on Thin Ice: A Balanced Arctic Strategy for the EU (No. EPSC Strategic Notes). https://ec.europa.eu/epsc/publications/strategic-notes/ walking-thin-ice-balanced-arctic-strategy-eu_en. Accessed July 21, 2019. Garcés de los Fayos, F. (2015). In The Outcome of the Ninth Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting (No. DG EXPO/B/PolDep/Note/2015_171). http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/ ATAG/2015/549036/EXPO_ATA(2015)549036_EN.pdf. Accessed June 10, 2015. High Representative. (2016). In Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe: A Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy. http://europa.eu/globalstrategy/ sites/globalstrategy/files/pages/files/eugs_review_web_13.pdf. Accessed January 1, 2017. High Representative, & European Commission. (2008). In Climate Change and International Security (S113/08), Brussels, 14 March 2008. Hix, S. (2005). The political system of the European Union (2nd ed.). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Kobza, P. (2015). In Civilian Power Europe in the Arctic: How Far Can the European Union Go North? (No. EU Diplomacy Paper 01/2015). https://www.coleurope.eu/system/files_force/ research-paper/edp_2015_1_kobza.pdf?download=1. Accessed May 18, 2015. Koivurova, T., Kokko, K., Duyck, S., Sellheim, N., & St˛epie´n, A. (2012). The present and future competence of the European Union in the Arctic. Polar Record, 48(4), 361–371. Liu, N. (2013). The European Union’s potential contribution to enhanced Governance of Arctic Shipping. Zeitschrift Für Ausländisches Öffentliches Recht Und Völkerrecht, 73, 705–733. Offerdal, K. (2011). The EU in the Arctic: In pursuit of legitimacy and influence. International Journal, 66(4), 861–877. Østhagen, A. (2013). The European Union—An Arctic actor? Journal of Military and Strategic Studies, 15(2), 71–92. Østhagen, A., & Raspotnik, A. (2017). Partners or rivals? Norway and the European Union in the High North. In N. Liu, E. A. Kirk, & T. Henriksen (Eds.), The European Union and the Arctic (pp. 97–118). Leiden & Boston: Brill. Raspotnik, A. (2018). The European Union and the geopolitics of the Arctic. Cheltenham & Northampton: Edward Elgar. Raspotnik, A., & Østhagen, A. (2018, January 22). Quo vadis Arctic? The EU and its Northern neighbourhood. https://chargedaffairs.org/quo-vadis-arctic/. Accessed January 31, 2018. Ritchie, H., & Roser, M. (2017). CO2 and Greenhouse gas emissions. https://ourworldindata.org/ co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissions. Accessed September 13, 2019. Schatz, V. J., Proelss, A., & Liu, N. (2019). The 2018 agreement to prevent unregulated high seas fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean: A critical analysis. International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law, 34(2), 195–244. Sellheim, N. (2015). Policies and influence: Tracing and locating the EU seal products trade regulation. International Community Law Review, 17(1), 3–36. St˛epie´n, A. (2015). Internal contradictions and external anxieties: one ‘Coherent’ Arctic Policy for the European Union? In G. Alfredsson, T. Koivurova, & J. Jabour (Eds.), The yearbook of polar law (Vol. 7, pp. 249–289). Leiden & Boston: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. St˛epie´n, A., Kankaanpää, P., & Koivurova, T. (2014). Scope, methodology and stakeholder engagement. In A. St˛epie´n, T. Koivurova, & P. Kankaanpää (Eds.), Strategic assessment of development of the Arctic. Assessment conducted for the European Union (pp. 1–9). Rovaniemi: Arctic Centre, University of Lapland. St˛epie´n, A., & Koivurova, T. (2016). The making of a coherent Arctic Policy for the European Union: Anxieties, contradictions and possible future pathways. In A. St˛epie´n, T. Koivurova, & P.


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Kankaanpää (Eds.), The changing Arctic and the European Union: A book based on the report “Strategic Assessment of Development of the Arctic: Assessment Conducted for the European Union” (pp. 20–56). Leiden & Boston: Brill. St˛epie´n, A., Koivurova, T., & Kankaanpää, P. (Eds.). (2016). The Changing Arctic and the European Union. Brill: Leiden & Boston. St˛epie´n, A., & Raspotnik, A. (2019a). Can the EU’s Arctic Policy find true north? https://www. ceps.eu/can-the-eus-arctic-policy-find-true-north/. Accessed September 11, 2019. St˛epie´n, A., & Raspotnik, A. (2019b). The EU’s Arctic Policy: Between vision and reality. https://www.coleurope.eu/system/files_force/research-paper/stepien_raspotnik_cepob_5-19. pdf?download=1. Accessed August 21, 2019. van Dam, K., Scheepstra, A., Gille, J., St˛epie´n, A., & Koivurova, T. (2014). Mining in the European Arctic. In A. St˛epie´n, T. Koivurova, & P. Kankaanpää (Eds.), Strategic assessment of development of the Arctic. Assessment conducted for the European Union (pp. 87–99). Rovaniemi: Arctic Centre, University of Lapland. Weber, S. (2014). The development of an EU Arctic Policy: Interests, objectives and initiatives. In A. Sprüds & T. Rostoks (Eds.), Perceptions and strategies of arcticness in sub-arctic Europe (pp. 43–74). Riga: Latvian Institute of International Affairs. Wegge, N. (2012). The EU and the Arctic: European foreign policy in the making. Arctic Review on Law and Politics, 3(1), 6–29. Wegge, N. (2013). Politics between science, law and sentiments: Explaining the European Union’s ban on trade in seal products. Environmental Politics, 22(2), 255–273.

Andreas Raspotnik is a Senior Researcher at the High North Center for Business and Governance, Nord University in Bodø, Norway. He is also a Senior Fellow and Leadership Group member at The Arctic Institute, Washington, DC, and a Senior Fellow at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Oslo. Adam St˛epien´ is a Political Scientist working at the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland. He focuses on Arctic governance, and particularly on the EU’s role in the Arctic. Adam has participated in a number of EU Arctic policy support and advisory projects.

Seeking a Seat at the Table: India Turns to the Arctic Aditya Ramanathan

In 1903, Indian nationalist leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak published The Arctic Home in the Vedas, a highly speculative 500-page tome that argued that the Arctic, and not central Asia, was the original homeland of the Indo-European peoples. However, Tilak’s book—a mishmash of geology and references from ancient texts—brought the Arctic into the imagination of modern India only briefly (Tilak 1925). A more substantial legal connection was born in 1923 when India’s British rulers ratified the Svalbard Treaty, (Ingimundarson 2018: 7), effectively making it one of the High Contracting Parties. In the decades after independence in 1947, political and diplomatic elites would only show episodic interest in the polar regions. The first such burst of interest came in the 1950s but was centred around Antarctica. Indeed, as we shall see, India’s engagement with the Antarctic would inform its approach to the Arctic in the early twenty-first century.

Antarctic Entanglements Under the leadership of its first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, newly independent India tried to fashion a distinct foreign policy of its own, one that sought to “bridge the ideological differences that divided East from West, capitalist from communist”(Bhagavan 2013: 1). India was one of the organisers of the Bandung Conference in Indonesia in 1955 that brought together newly independent states from Africa and Asia. The following year, concerned about the spread of the Cold War and its attendant atomic rivalries into Antarctica, India played an active part in discussions over the future of the continent (Dodds 2006: 65). In a memorandum submitted to the UN General Assembly in February 1956, India’s permanent representative Arthur S. Lall A. Ramanathan (B) The Takshashila Institution, 2nd floor, 46/1, Church St., Haridevpur, Shanthala Nagar, Ashok Nagar, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560001, India e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 J. Weber (ed.), Handbook on Geopolitics and Security in the Arctic, Frontiers in International Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-45005-2_9



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argued for discussions on the Antarctic to be brought into the Assembly’s provisional agenda. Lall warned that since “the development of rapid communications” could make extraction of its mineral resources feasible, it was imperative that any activities on the continent be peaceful and not “accentuate world tensions”(Chaturvedi 1986: 355). While Lall made no mention of the competing territorial claims in the Antarctic in his memorandum or in a subsequent proposal that October, there was heated reaction from two of the claimants, Chile and Argentina, which did not want the issue to be discussed in the UN (Chaturvedi 2013: 305–311). A note sent out by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to Indian Embassies and High Commissions attempted to explained India’s position: Although there are no populations on the Antarctica it is possible that it might become a field for international war, which in atomic age would be disastrous. Even atomic experiments and explosions in this region may have very harmful results on the climate of the whole world. (Chaturvedi 2013: 306)

India withdrew its proposal, later that year, citing the dual crises in Hungary and the Suez, which by then was dominating the diplomatic agendas of both Delhi and the UN. In 1958, India briefly took up the issue again before shelving it. The following year, twelve nations with a physical presence on the southern continent met in Washington, DC, resulting in the Antarctic Treaty. By then, India, which was not part of this group, had already been marginalised. However, it could take some solace in the fact that the treaty addressed its key concern by insulating Antarctica from the Cold War’s military rivalries (Chaturvedi 2013: 311–313). India’s next burst of polar activity came more than twenty years later in 1981, when secretive preparations were made for an Antarctic voyage. The decision to mount an expedition was made at the highest levels of government under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. A 5000-tonne polar-class vessel, the Polar Circle was discreetly chartered from a Norwegian firm. On 9 January 1982, the 21-member crew of scientists and naval personnel reached Queen Maud Land, a region claimed by Norway, after a month-long voyage (Bobb 1982). While the expedition was scientific, it obviously had other implications. The very decision to mount it in secrecy shows India anticipated possible opposition from countries with an established presence in the continent. It also prompted speculation about whether India was planning to join the Antarctic Treaty system and give up the “common heritage of mankind” formulation popular among many developing countries (Reinhold 1982). India’s intentions soon became clear. A second, more elaborate expedition set out in 1982–83, to put in place some of the logistics for a permanent base. It was followed by an 81-member expedition in 1983–84 that set up the base and left behind a 12-person team to operate it. In between the second and third expeditions, India applied for and received “consultative status” under the Antarctic Treaty on grounds that it had conducted substantial scientific activity on the continent (Chaturvedi 1986: 370–371).

Seeking a Seat at the Table: India Turns to the Arctic


Economic and strategic considerations were undoubtedly among the drivers of Indira Gandhi’s Antarctic adventure. India may not have been satisfied with the Antarctic Treaty, but a futile attempt at challenging it would have simply left it out of any future negotiations. Furthermore, the prospect of new negotiations did not seem remote at that time since the new UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (which India signed in December 1982) had potential conflicts with the Antarctic Treaty (Joyner 1983). While India did not want to be left out of a scramble for the Antarctic’s resources, its ecological concerns were always significant. As the lead scientist on the first expedition pointed out, the Indian Ocean was only connected to Antarctica, unlike the Pacific and Atlantic oceans which were connected to both polar regions. This meant a greater knowledge of the Antarctic was crucial for a better understanding of Indian Ocean ecology. (Chaturvedi 1986: 368) Similarly, one of Indira Gandhi’s biographers points out that her main motivations for the Antarctic expedition were “greater knowledge of the Indian Ocean and the monsoons, life in ice-bound regions, and marine biodiversity” (Ramesh 2017, Chapter VI). The two research stations India operates in Antarctica are evidence of that commitment.

India’s Arctic Journey Scientific Beginnings India’s presence in the Arctic had modest origins. In August of 2007, a team of five scientists visited the International Arctic Research base on Ny-Ålesund, part of the Svalbard archipelago, and then home to research facilities from ten countries (Ministry of Earth Sciences, n.d.). Once there, the expedition began studies in microbiology, geology, and atmospheric sciences. Launched in cooperation with Norway, the Indian expedition was led by Dr Rasik Ravindra (“India to Set Foot on the Arctic,” 2007), then the head of the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR), and a seasoned veteran of the Antarctic (National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research, n.d.). Following a visit by another Indian team in March, India set up its research station in Ny-Ålesund, the Himadri (“abode of snow” in Sanskrit), under the auspices of the Svalbard Treaty (“India Sets up Permanent Research Base,” 2008). On 1 July 2008, India’s science and technology minister Kapil Sibal inaugurated the station. His visit was followed by those of his successors, Prithviraj Chavan in 2010 and Pawan Kumar Bansal in 2011. External affairs minister Salman Khurshid also visited Himadri in June 2013, (MEA 2017: 4) just weeks after the Arctic Council ministerial meeting in Kiruna, Sweden during which the Arctic Council granted observer status to six countries, including India. Setting up the research station in Svalbard increased India’s research output on the Arctic, even if its impact was initially limited. One study found the number of scientific research papers on the Arctic by Indian authors went up more than three


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times between 2005 and 2012—with research station Himadri clearly driving the new research. However, international collaboration was limited, since nearly two-thirds of the articles published during that period featuring only Indian authors (Stensdal 2012: 12–16). Interest in the Arctic among Indian scientists stems from a recognition that climate change links the fortunes of the High North and the Indian Ocean Region. In a 2016 article, two of the Indian scientists involved in Arctic research pointed out that “signals or clues that signify climate change are so much stronger” in the region (Rajan and Krishnan 2016: 43). They added that the connection between Arctic precipitation and the Indian subcontinent’s monsoons needs to be understood better. The scientists describe three types of studies. The first is biogeochemical studies of Kongsfjorden, an inlet in nearby Spitsbergen, where seasonal shifts offer opportunities to study both the marine environment and possible effects of climate change. The second is atmospheric studies of precipitation in the Arctic. The third is cryosphere studies meant to better understand the tidewater and mountain glaciers around Svalbard (Rajan and Krishnan 2016: 45–46). In 2014, an Indian team, helped by its Norwegian hosts, deployed a moored underwater observatory in the Kongfjorden inlet at a depth of 192 m. The observatory’s oceanographic sensors collected data on sea temperatures, salinity, and other variables (Press Information Bureau 2014a).

Seeking a Seat at the Table That India’s scientific endeavours in the Arctic had political implications could not be lost on Indian decisionmakers. The Antarctic Treaty formalised the connection between scientific activity and politics by making it a prerequisite for accession. Eric Paglia argues that by stressing environmental linkages to the Arctic, Asian states not only justify the presence of their research stations but are also able to create “a basis for embedding themselves in relevant international organizations that further solidify their stakeholder status” (Paglia 2018: 198). Unsurprisingly, as India’s scientific engagement expanded, the debate over how to engage the Arctic politically heated up in 2012. Speaking at a maritime seminary in Delhi that February, defence minister A.K. Antony said melting polar ice caps would have “tectonic consequences for our understanding of what maritime domains constitute ‘navigable’ oceans of the world.” Antony’s concern was the loss of Indian leverage over its rival, China. “Specific to Asia and the Indian Ocean Region, there may be a need to reassess concepts like chokepoints and critical sea lines of communication” (Shukla 2012). The chokepoints Antony was referring to were the Malacca and Sunda straits in southeast Asia. These two narrow waterways, through which about a quarter of the world’s merchandise goods pass, give Delhi some leverage over Beijing since, since India could theoretically block or otherwise disrupt Chinese commercial shipping during a conflict or crisis. However, an increasingly navigable Arctic would not only cut some shipping lines for China but also reduce its dependence on the Malacca and Sunda straits.

Seeking a Seat at the Table: India Turns to the Arctic


Antony’s remarks glossed over the complex realities of Arctic shipping and the challenges involved in scaling it. However, his words came months before a severe summer in which Arctic sea ice cover retreated to its minimum recorded since 1979 (NASA 2012). That April, Chinese premiere Wen Jiabao visited Iceland and Sweden (which then held the rotating chairmanship of the Arctic Council) and reportedly won Swedish backing for observer status (China claims Swedish support 2012). Chinese officials also began to refer to their country as a “near-Arctic state” (SIPRI 2012). Despite these developments, not everyone was convinced India should also join the Arctic Council. Weeks before Antony’s remarks, an influential former foreign secretary, Shyam Saran, wrote a column urging India to show caution before applying for observer status. Concerned about an ecologically devastating scramble for the Arctic Ocean’s resources, he instead advocated India “press for the Antarctic Treaty template where the territorial claims of States have been shelved for the duration of the Treaty” (Saran 2012). While Saran was echoing concerns shared widely among Indian observers, his proposal was in contrast to the Arctic Council’s stance which relies on existing laws, including the Law of the Sea (Arctic Council n.d.) Notwithstanding Saran’s reservations, India applied for observer status in November 2012. The reasons it chose to apply are partly a matter of conjecture. Speaking at a conference in 2015, India’s former ambassador to Denmark, Ashok Kumar Attri, said the application was made at the last moment (Tonami 2016: 109–110). However, having made the application, the Indian side energetically lobbied Nordic countries. Barely a month before the Kiruna meeting, India received Iceland’s President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson in Delhi. Soon after that, India’s external affairs minister Salman Khurshid met his Swedish counterpart Carl Bildt in Almaty, Kazakhstan, during the Heart of Asia conference (Bagchi 2013). This lobbying was thought to be necessary because of reported objections from Canada and because relations with Denmark were at an all-time low (Delhi had downgraded diplomatic ties with Copenhagen after a spat over extraditing a Danish national to India to face terrorism charges) (Ramachandran 2013). There are broad parallels evident between India’s application to the Arctic Council and its decision to accede to the Antarctic Treaty. As in the 1980s, India began by establishing a scientific presence. Also like in the 1980s, decisionmakers in Delhi were faced with a choice amid rapidly changing circumstances: to challenge an existing system about which they had misgivings or to join the system and remain a relevant voice. In both cases, India picked the pragmatic option.

Searching for Rationales India and five other countries, most notably China, were admitted as observers in the Arctic Council during ministerial meeting in Kiruna, Sweden on 15 May 2013. While India’s admission was widely welcomed at home, the rationales offered for engaging with the Arctic Council were varied. The Hindu quoted an anonymous government source as saying India’s Arctic-related scientific output was proof of its priorities.


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“Unlike China and South Korea which are going for commercial benefit[sic], our interest is purely scientific.” However, the same story acknowledged that India would also look to partner with Russia on hydrocarbons but added the warning that India would have to “take a firm political stand on the Lomonosov Ridge and the Mendeleev Ridge which Russia claims are an extension of its continental shelf.” (Menon and Dikshit 2013) This was a rather outlandish claim, one that suggests at least some Indian officials were still grappling with the complexities of the Arctic. While India seemed unclear about what it wanted from its new status in the Arctic Council, it was determined to remain part of the conversation. Veteran diplomatic correspondent Indrani Bagchi summed up Delhi’s thinking: “Although India is not an Arctic state, as one of the rising economies of the world, it believes it has a stake in the Arctic Ocean and would like to be in the tent, to influence the decisions taken by the permanent members” (Bagchi 2013). India’s admission into the Arctic Council as an observer provided an opportunity for the government to present its view on how India should approach the Arctic. In June of 2013, the Ministry of External Affairs issued a 1000-word briefing that remains the most significant formal public communication from the government on India and the Arctic. The briefing is alive to the complexities of the contemporary Arctic, noting that the region plays “an increasingly greater role in shaping the course of world affairs.” It acknowledges the economic attractions of the region— mineral and living resources, and shorter shipping routes—but equally notes the negative impacts that come from melting Arctic ice on indigenous communities, local ecosystems, and global climate change. In line with this sweeping assessment, it defines India’s interests in the region as being “scientific, environmental, commercial as well as strategic” (MEA 2013a). This expansive definition of India’s interests allows it to keep its options open while the Arctic undergoes unprecedented changes. However, it is worth looking into how India has pursued these interests since 2013. Scientific and environmental interests: India’s scientific endeavours are meant primarily to understand the connections between the Arctic and the climate systems of the Indian Ocean region. Scientists from India have been able to build on their expertise in the Antarctic. Cooperation between India and Norway has roots in the 1980s and spans both the Arctic and Antarctic. Scientific training between the two countries has also risen, with India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences funding Indian PhD students at the Norwegian Polar Institute and a Norwegian grant supporting Indian students at the University Centre in Svalbard (Norway in India, n.d.). As a sign of the growing importance of the Arctic, in July 2018, India renamed the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research—the organisation that runs the polar research stations—National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research. India was also reportedly in talks with Canada and Russia to set up some observation capabilities (Koshy 2018). Finally, there’s also a long-delayed project to acquire a polar research vessel worth 10.50 billion rupees (about $150 million) (Press Information Bureau 2014b) that can cut through ice (Somashekhar 2018). Commercial interests: India is located far too south to benefit from Arctic shipping routes. However, if some Asian shipping through the Strait of Malacca were to shift

Seeking a Seat at the Table: India Turns to the Arctic


to the Arctic, Indian ports would miss out on commercial opportunities. India has sought hydrocarbon opportunities in Russia’s Far East and Arctic even before Kiruna. In 2010, it looked at acquiring a stake in a Russian company developing the Trebs and Titov oil fields in the Arctic (“OVL hopes to ink pact,” 2010). During a 2012 visit to India by President Vladimir Putin, the Indian side expressed its interest in exploring more such projects through the state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Videsh Limited (OVL) (MEA 2012). It reiterated this in 2013 when India’s then Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh visited Russia (MEA 2013b). Speaking at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok in September 2019, current Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned India’s interest in the Arctic (MEA 2019a). A joint statement added that India was following developments in the Arctic and looked forward to cooperating with Russia in the region (MEA 2019b). So far, Delhi’s outreach has had limited effect in the Arctic. However, India is also interested in Russia’s Far East, especially Sakhalin island off Russia’s eastern coast. At present, OVL owns a fifth of the Sakhalin-1 consortium operated by ExxonMobil (“OVL, partners to pay $230 million,” 2018). As part of Modi’s visit, two Indian companies, H-Energy and Petronet LNG, also signed agreements to buy liquified natural gas (LNG) from Russian gas producer Novatek, which operates in the Arctic (“H-Energy, Petronet sign deals,” 2019). Despite such agreements, the Arctic will remain a difficult region to operate in for the foreseeable future. Any significant expansion of India-Russia energy cooperation in the Arctic will depend both on whether Moscow wants to rope in India to balance off other players, and whether India sees the Arctic as a useful source for the diversification of its energy imports. Strategic interests: India will be affected by events in the Arctic in the decades to come. Even as major powers jostle in the High North, environmental and commercial considerations will become strategic ones as sea levels rise and shipping routes are rewired (even if modestly). In recent years, Delhi has focused on managing ties with Arctic countries. In April 2018, it co-hosted an India-Nordic prime ministerial summit in Stockholm along with Sweden. The meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the prime ministers of the five Nordic countries was about much more than the Arctic—indeed, their joint statement did not mention the region—but it no doubt helped bolster India’s profile in the region (MEA 2018). Since that summit, Denmark’s Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen has visited India, helping to repair relations after the strain caused over the extradition row (Roche 2019). India’s President Ram Nath Kovind also visited Iceland soon after it took over chairmanship of the Arctic Council, to meet President Guoni Johannesson (“President Ram Nath Kovind holds bilateral talks,” 2019). Despite some success with Nordic countries, India has had a more difficult time navigating relations with the larger powers. The downswing in US-Russia ties after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential elections has made it more challenging for India to engage one without upsetting the other. Simultaneously, the upswing in Russia-China relations has forced India to worry about Russia’s long-term intentions. Amid these changes, the Arctic is now a part of India’s grand chessboard, even if only at the periphery.


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Constraints, Debates, Prospects India’s foreign policy elites do not lack ambition. Like their counterparts in many other major states, Indian elites often consider their country to be exceptional and having something unique to offer the rest of the world. Consequently, Indian diplomacy went global within years of independence, with missions on every inhabited continent (Cohen 2002: 36–65). Yet India’s self-conception is also accompanied by a sophisticated tradition of statecraft; one in which, in the words of Stephen P. Cohen, “Pragmatism, realism, and idealism exist side by side” (Cohen 2002: 53). This combination of self-regard, idealism, and an ability to play pragmatic politics can explain much about Delhi’s engagement with the Arctic: the conviction that the circumpolar regions matter to India, the simultaneous urges to protect the environment and explore commercial opportunities, and the desire to be seen as a responsible stakeholder. However, if the Indian worldview explains its Arctic ambitions, the shortcomings of its foreign policy apparatus offer an equally powerful explanation for why its engagement with the region is likely to face constraints. India’s Arctic diplomacy since 2013 has been respectable but has none of the energy and coherence needed to become a major player. One reason for this is that the Arctic is low on the list of priorities for India’s political class. It is important but not urgent. On the other hand, India has it hands full managing relations with states in its immediate and extended neighbourhoods as well as with major powers. That means India’s leaders have little time or energy left to drive a sustained Arctic policy. A more fundamental reason for India’s underperformance is its lack of capacity. The country’s diplomatic corps is dominated by the Indian Foreign Service or IFS, an elite cadre of about one thousand personnel, two-thirds of whom are spread across 180 missions abroad. While IFS officers are generally held in very high regard by their foreign counterparts, they are spread thin. As Teresita C. Schaffer and Howard B. Schaffer put it, “IFS officers complain that they have to do the same work as four of their Brazilian or seven of their Chinese counterparts” (Schaffer and Schaffer 2016: 85–86). This is not a structure that lends itself to specialisation or long-term planning. A Maturing Debate: Over the last ten years, there has been a robust public debate in Indian think tank circles about how to approach the Arctic. In 2009, strategic affairs expert Arvind Gupta wrote an article titled “Geopolitical Implications of Arctic Meltdown” (Gupta 2009). Gupta was writing for Strategic Analysis, a journal of the Ministry of Defence-funded think tank Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) and his commentary reflected the tenor of the debate in 2009. It warned of melting ice, a navigable Northwest Passage, territorial disputes, and an emerging scramble for resources. While Gupta acknowledged the fundamental political and geographic differences between the northern and southern circumpolar regions, he suggested that the way out was for non-Arctic countries to push for an Antarctic-style treaty that would preserve the region primarily for scientific research.

Seeking a Seat at the Table: India Turns to the Arctic


Anxiety about the environmental impact of resource extraction similarly dominated the arguments of Shyam Saran, the former foreign secretary, in a 2011 column. “Should five countries, which, as an accident of geography, form the Arctic rim, have the right to play with the world’s ecological future in pursuit of their economic interests?” Saran asked (Saran 2011). A very different line of thought came in 2010, from Vijay Sakhuja, a former navy officer, and then director of research at the Indian Council of World Affairs, a think tank funded by the Ministry of External Affairs. In a policy brief titled “The Arctic Council: Is There a Case for India?”, Sakjuja made a series of recommendations. The most audacious of these was pushing for India’s permanent membership of the Arctic Council based on the Svalbard Treaty. Other recommendations included building capabilities for Arctic mining and fishing, as well as championing the idea of a nuclear-free Arctic (Sakhuja 2010). While these initial writings diverge considerably in their assessments of the threats and opportunities, they all make great demands of India, whether it be to change the Arctic’s governance structure or build a polar fishing fleet. In the years since then, Indian writing on Arctic politics has become far more voluminous but has also grown in nuance and tends to make much more modest proposals. Evidence of this can be found in a special issue of Strategic Analysis in 2014 that brought together Norwegian and Indian researchers - and was republished as a book (Sinha and Bekkevold 2015), as well as an edited anthology co-edited by Vijay Sakhuja (Sakhuja and Narula 2016). A more recent instance is a paper from Observer Research Foundation, a privately funded think tank (Nanda 2019). Proposals for India’s Arctic engagement have either maximalist or minimalist tendencies. As India grasps the complexities of the Arctic region, those maximalist proposals are likely to die a natural death while the minimalist options survive. Describing the Arctic as the “common heritage of mankind” will only stir resistance among Arctic littoral states. Proposals for a nuclear-free zone—an idea lifted from the Antarctic—will run into the reality that US and Russian ballistic nuclear missile submarines patrol the Arctic Ocean. There’s also little incentive for Indian companies to develop Arctic mining and fishing capabilities by themselves when they can simply partner with foreign firms possessing greater experience in these endeavours. India’s Arctic Prospects: Over the next decade, India’s approach to the Arctic is likely to be largely minimalist by default. Given its constraints, India would be well served to look back to the 2013 Ministry of External Affairs note and identify scientific and environmental interests as being paramount. On natural resources, the government ought to restrict itself to facilitating commercially viable projects that are generally seen as responsible. To secure its strategic interests India can pursue regular interstate diplomacy (at which it remains competent) while relying on think tanks and academics to develop expertise in monitoring Arctic geopolitics. Such a minimalist approach allows room for imaginative proposals. For instance, Sanjay Chaturvedi makes concrete suggestions for the way ahead (Chaturvedi 2014: 77–79). These include putting together an Arctic policy that is embedded in a wider polar strategy, participating actively in the Arctic Council’s working groups, and


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collaborating with Asian observer states to promote polar science. Chaturvedi recommends India appoint a “polar ambassador” to coordinate these initiatives and present its case internationally. Such an approach to the Arctic would reflect the blend of pragmatism, realism, and idealism that characterizes India’s foreign policy at its best.

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Reinhold, R. (1982, February 16). Expedition from India arrives in Antarctica. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/1982/02/16/science/expedition-from-india-arrives-in-antarctica.html. Roche, E. (2019, January 19). India-Denmark relations improve, skirting Kim Davy’s extradition. Mint. https://www.livemint.com/Politics/0EeeYiIBQeQwR4zR8HY2FP/IndiaDenmarkrelations-improve-skirting-Kim-Davys-extradi.html. Sakhuja, V. (2010) The Arctic council: Is there a case for India?”. Policy Brief. Indian Council of World Affairs. https://www.icwa.in/showfile.php?lang=1&level=3&ls_id=535&lid=497. Sakhuja, V., & Narula, K. (Eds.). (2016). Asia and the Arctic: Narratives, perspectives and policies. Singapore: Springer. Saran, S. (2011, June 12). Why the Arctic Ocean is important to India. Business Standard. https://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/shyam-saran-why-the-arctic-ocean-isimportant-to-india-111061200007_1.html. Saran, S. (2012, February 01). India’s stake in Arctic cold war. The Hindu. https://www.thehindu. com/opinion/op-ed/Indias-stake-in-Arctic-cold-war/article13290404.ece. Schaffer, T. C., & Schaffer, H. B. (2016). India at the global high table: The quest for regional primacy and strategic autonomy. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press. Shukla, A. (2012, February 28). Antony sees Chinese shipping bypassing Indian blockade. Business Standard. https://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/antony-sees-chineseshipping-bypassing-indian-blockade-112022800029_1.html. Sinha, U., & Bekkevold, J. I. (Eds.). (2015). Arctic: Commerce, governance and policy. London: Routledge. SIPRI. (2012, May 10). China defines itself as a ‘near-arctic state’, says SIPRI. https://www.sipri. org/media/press-release/2012/china-defines-itself-near-arctic-state-says-sipri. Somashekhar, M. (2018, May 06). Govt to set up marine observation system, buy polar research vehicle. The Hindu Business Line. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/govt-to-set-upmarine-observation-system-buy-polar-research-vehicle/article23795386.ece#. Stensdal, I. (2012). Asian Arctic Research 2005–2012: Harder, better, faster, stronger. Polar research. https://www.fni.no/getfile.php/131756-1469869075/Filer/Publikasjoner/FNI-R0313.pdf. Tilak, B. G. (1925). The Arctic home in the Vedas (2nd ed.). Poona: Tilak Bros. Tonami, A. (2016). India’s Arctic policy. Asian foreign policy in a changing Arctic: The diplomacy of economy and science at new frontiers (pp. 107–111). London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Aditya Ramanathan is a policy analyst at The Takshashila Institution, Bengaluru. His research on strategic affairs currently focuses on India’s nuclear weapons policy and its maritime affairs, including its engagement with the Arctic. He is also responsible for Takshashila’s daily public policy podcast, All Things Policy. Trained as a broadcast journalist, Ramanathan has previously covered international affairs, business news, and features at Mint and as a freelancer.

Singapore: A Tangential but Constructive Player in the Arctic Richard A. Bitzinger

Introduction At first glance, Singapore would appear to be an unlikely candidate for any discussion of the Arctic. Indeed, it is the very epitome of an equatorial power: located a little more than one degree north of the equator, Singapore is about as far from the north pole that a country can get and still be in the northern hemisphere (nearly 10,000 km). It has no territorial claims on the Arctic, nor does it have any direct interests in exploiting the natural resources (particularly oil and gas reserves) that are supposedly in abundance in the region. Yet, in recent years, Singapore has cast its eyes to the High North and the Arctic, and it seeks, as much as it is possible, to be an active player in political and economic developments affecting the Arctic region. As a result, it applied for, and was awarded (in 2013), observer status in the Arctic Council, the preeminent intergovernmental forum addressing issues and challenges facing the Arctic region. Only countries with territories within the Arctic Circle can be member-states; these are Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States. However, at least thirteen countries have nonvoting “observer” status within the Council, including China, India, Japan, the United Kingdom, besides Singapore. Singapore’s interests in the Arctic basically boil down to four issue areas: (1) environmental, (2) trade, (3) business opportunities, and (4) global governance. Each will be discussed in turn.

R. A. Bitzinger (B) Marysville, MI, USA e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 J. Weber (ed.), Handbook on Geopolitics and Security in the Arctic, Frontiers in International Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-45005-2_10



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Environmental The strategic environment of the Arctic has traditionally been dictated by its isolation and its extremely difficult climate: it was, quite simply, an extremely cold, distant, and generally desolate place for humans to operate in. Global warming, however, has begun to alter this general point of view. There are rapid changes taking in its natural environment. There has been a dramatically reduced level of spring snow cover over Eurasia and North America, a sustained increase in the greening seasons, and a melting of tundra. More important, the extent and thickness of sea ice has declined significantly; in 2012, for example, the extent of summer sea ice was some 50% smaller than the preceding 30-year average, a loss of ice-pack roughly equal to one-third of the landmass of the United States (Stang 2015: 11–19). It is no exaggeration to say that climate change, and particularly global warming, is of strategic concern to Singapore. According to Ian Storey, Singapore sees climate change as one of its more serious challenges: According to the most recent report by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC), the effects of global warming are likely to be increasingly “severe, pervasive and irreversible.” The impact of global warming on weather patterns in Asia is readily apparent…. Asia is the most natural disaster prone area in the world, and the frequency and intensity of weather-related catastrophes such as floods and typhoons is increasing (Storey 2016: 65).

As a small state (approximately 725 km2 , about the size of San Francisco), lying an average of 15 m above sea level, the melting of glaciers and the northern polar ice cap constitutes an existential threat to the future of the country. To be sure, Singapore’s leaders tend to take a rather bleak view when it comes to security. The government frequently describe Singapore’s regional security calculus in “dark Hobbesian-like terms” (Tan and Chew 2008: 249); as such, the country’s defense and security strategy is predicated on the idea of Singapore living on a razor’s edge, requiring the securitization of the entire populace (Deck 1999: 258–260). In addition to coastal erosion and the loss of territory, Singapore, due to global warming, is predicted to become hotter and wetter; temperatures could rise by as much as three to four degrees Celsius, and heavy storms could become more frequent and intense. This could aggravate flooding and access to potable water. A warmer habitat might also increase the number of disease-bringing insects (such as mosquitos who carry dengue), while plants or animals who cannot adapt to warmer climes might face extinction. It should come as little surprise to anyone, therefore, when Singapore’s Senior Arctic Official Simon Wong warned that “global warming and rising sea levels will have a profound and direct impact on our survival” (Tan 2019). In addition, an official statement by the Singaporean Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that “Singapore is vulnerable to rising sea levels, being a low-lying coastal nation. The Arctic is a critical barometer of climate change…” (MFA 2018, italics added). Consequently, part of Singapore’s newfound involvement in Arctic issues and affairs is to better understand (and perhaps influence) climate change in the Far North.

Singapore: A Tangential but Constructive Player in the Arctic


Trade and Economics The High North provides both challenges and opportunities for Singapore when it comes to trade and economics. In the first place, as a result of global warming and the receding of the polar icecap, the Arctic is being increasingly viewed as a possible alternate sea route for commercial shipping, potentially competing with the traditional trans-Malacca Strait/trans-Suez Canal route used by most shipping when it comes to trade between Europe and the Asia-Pacific. The recent but continuing reduction in sea ice around the north polar icecap has meant that sea routes through the Arctic region are at least a commercial possibility. The Northwest Passage through Canada is one possible route, but most attention has been paid to the so-called Northern Sea Route (NSR) along the northern coast of Russia. Moscow is particularly interested in developing the NSR (Keil 2015: 26–27; Baev 2015: 51–56). The passage is, on paper at least, particularly attractive for shipping via Europe and Asia. The distance from Shanghai to Hamburg is 5200 km shorter going by way of Arctic route than via the Singapore-Malacca straits and the Suez Canal. It is 40% shorter from Yokohama to Rotterdam. With Arctic ice shrinking both in extent and thickness, it is possible to run icebreakers through the NSR. Russia owns 22 icebreakers with another 19 specialized ships held by Russian industry. Currently, icebreakers (and subsequently commercial shipping) can operate in the NSR only during the summer months). However, some scientists believe continued global warming could permit the NSR (as well as the Northwest Passage) to remain open for up to 110 days each year by 2030, “transforming global shipping patterns” (NIC 2012: 65). Already, the number of ships using the NSR rose from 41 ships in 2011 to 71 in 2013; between 2010 and 2012, there was a tenfold increase in the number of vessels taking this route and Russia expects a 30-fold increase in the number of transits by 2020 (Kraska and Baker 2014: 6). Over the long run, the NSR and the Northwest Passage could constitute direct threats to the continued viability of Singapore as a center for entrepôt shipping. The island’s advantageous geographical position made it a perfect place for a trading port, which was central to the British founding modern Singapore in 1819. For decades, the Port of Singapore (and later the British Naval Base) was the single most important element in the Singaporean economy. Even today, despite considerable diversification of the local economy, the transshipment industry is an integral part of the country’s lifeblood. The Port of Singapore is the second largest port in the world after Shanghai, receiving on average 120,000 vessels a year; the value of trade passing through the port is five times greater than the nation’s GDP (Storey 2016: 66). Consequently, any redirection of shipping traffic away from the Port of Singapore could severely impact the national economy. That said, Arctic sea lanes—and especially the NSR—have so far been of only limited utility. Very few ships actually use the route, and most of these have been Russian ships (often transiting from one Russian port along the Arctic coast to another). The NSR is hampered by a lack of


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deepwater ports on the Russian Arctic coast, the shallowness of the transit waters (restricting usage by larger carriers), the unpredictability of ice melt on a year-to-year basis, and the fact that ships have to pay for Russian icebreakers to create a sea lane. In fact, use of the NSR remains insignificant compared to the Suez/Straits of Malacca route, and in 2014 the number of transits using this route fell to just 31 ships, a 33% drop from the year before (and only six ships were non-Russian). In comparison, more than 16,000 ships pass through the Suez Canal annually, and nearly 80,000 vessels traverse the Singapore/Malacca straits every year (Keil 2015: 28–29; MFA). As a result, fewer countries than imagined might actually gain much in terms of reduced sailing time by using the NSR or the Northwest Passage. Japan or South Korea, being situated in northern part of Asia, might benefit from the NSR, but probably not southern China or countries with ports in Southeast Asia. Moreover, only with certain types of ships (e.g., bulk carriers) might be suited for Arctic climes. In particular, large container carriers may not be able to travel through the NSR. According to a publication put out by the Arctic Institute, the largest ships that can traverse the NSR are at around 4000 TEUs (twenty-feet equivalent unit); with container ships being built as large as 18,000 TEUs, it may be faster and cheaper to use the Malacca/Suez route (Humpert 2013: 13). At the same time, usage of the NSR and the Northwest Passage is still too unpredictable, due to the irregularity of icemelt. Finally, even if the NSR were to become more usable, users would have to deal with a highly capricious and corrupt Russian bureaucracy. Moscow is still receiving little foreign support or capital to develop the NSR, and, if Russia continues to amp up its aggressive behavior around the world, foreign support would likely be even less forthcoming. At best, therefore, the NSR could be a potential alternate shipping route for northeastern Asian states, should the Malacca route be closed off, perhaps due to conflicts in the South China Sea. So far, Singapore’s entrepôt business is not (yet) threatened by the alternative shipping routes posed by the NSR or the Northwest Passage. Traffic through the Arctic sea routes remains tiny compared to that traversing the Singapore-Malacca straits. And while the polar icecap is receding, the resulting passages are not yet predictably open for significant traffic or large vessels. Icebreakers are often still necessary. Finally, Russian control over the NSR is still too bureaucratic (or even corrupt) for most shipping to prefer to use that route. All that said, Singapore is keen to be involved in the Arctic Council for the same reasons as its concerns over melting sea ice: to be informed and to hopefully influence policy (Tan 2017; Bennett 2017: 5–6).

Business Opportunities While still no tropical paradise, the Arctic has become much more accessible in recent years. In particular, the reduction of Arctic ice has increased the potential accessibility to the region’s reportedly abundant reserves of oil and natural gas. The Arctic is believed to contain up to 25% of the world’s remaining oil and gas reserves;

Singapore: A Tangential but Constructive Player in the Arctic


conservative estimate puts this at over 100 billion barrels of oil, estimated to be worth perhaps US$20 trillion, and up to 1700 trillion cubic square feet of natural gas. Countries such as Canada, Norway, and especially Russia are particularly keen to exploit these gas and oil fields, many of which are only accessible via deepsea drilling. Competition over exploiting these resources could conceivably become as contentious as that currently unfolding in the South China Sea—with the same potential for conflict over exclusive economic zones (EEZs) (Keil 2015: 21–26). The potential upside of global warning and melting polar ice is the opening up of the Far North to business opportunities for Singapore. The country possesses a sophisticated, globally competitive maritime industry encompassing shipbuilding, ship repair, oil rig construction, offshore engineering, and a host of support services (Bennett 2017: 8; Tan 2016). It is one of the largest sectors of the national economy, employing around 100,000 workers and accounts for about 10% of the country’s GDP (Zhuravel and Danilov 2016: 130). In first place, therefore, the country is in the position to support the expansion of Arctic offshore energy development. According to Ian Storey, “Singapore is less interested in consuming the region’s natural resources than in marketing the cuttingedge maritime technologies that will be required to develop them, especially drilling platforms” (Storey 2014: 67). For example, Singapore had made considerable investments in developing offshore construction technologies, including platforms for oil and gas for offshore oil production on great depths and in harsh environments (Zhuravel and Danilov 2016: 130). In particular, the country is the world’s largest manufacturer of so-called “jack-up rigs”—ice-capable, self-elevating mobile drilling platforms; these could be marketable to oil exploration and extraction efforts in the Arctic region. Secondly, Singapore’s shipbuilding industry is keen to supply icebreakers and other ice-class vessels for the Arctic (Burke and Saramago 2018). The Singaporean shipbuilder Keppel Singmarine was, in fact, the first Asian shipyard to build icebreakers (Tan 2019). In 2008, the company delivered two icebreakers to the Russian oil company, Lukoil; these ships are capable of cutting through 1.45 m of ice and operating at temperatures as low as −45 °C. They currently operate primarily in the Barents Sea. Keppel Singmarine has also delivered at least nine other ice-class ships, including four anchor-handling tug supply and rescue vessels, two ice-class multipurpose vessels, two ice-class supply vessels, and an ice-class floating storage and offloading vessel: “Keppel hands over new multi-purpose ice-class vessel” (Tonami 2017: 3). Despite these sales of ice-class vessels and the possibility of selling oil-drilling platforms to oil and gas companies, the commercial potential of the Arctic region for Singapore’s maritime industry remains unpredictable and probably quite small. It is still very difficult (and therefore quite expensive) to extract oil from fields in the far north, especially in the deep seas. And the Western embargo has prevented Russia from gaining access to deep-sea drilling technology. Moreover, with the collapse in oil prices, there has been even less interest in exploiting oil reserves in the region. At best, therefore, Singapore’s maritime commercial opportunities in the Arctic will be peripheral to other regions and products.


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Global Governance The importance that Singapore puts on global governance is probably the most powerful reason for its membership in the Arctic Council and its growing interest in general as to how climatic changes in the Arctic may affect the country. In traditional, nation-state-centric international relations, Singapore’s influence and impact is quite limited; under such a system larger nations generally wield greater authority while smaller countries just have live with it. However, within intergovernmental and transnational organizations, however, smaller states like Singapore have the potential to exert outsized power. Therefore, it should not surprise anyone to find that global governance is at the very heart of all the other challenges that Singapore may face in dealing with issues relating to the Arctic region: i.e., Singapore’s active participation in rules- and norms-making institutions that deal with the Arctic gives the country a “seat at the table,” and consequently a means by which to make inputs as to what those rules and norms should be. Therefore, according to Hema Nadarajah, since joining the council, Singapore has pursued a “two-pronged approach” to the Arctic: “to assist in whatever way possible within the Arctic Council and the region itself, and to gain a better understanding of how changes in the Arctic may affect the island state” (Nadarajah 2018, italics added). Singapore has always been greatly interested in global governance. In the first place, as a very small country, participation in global institutions and intergovernmental organizations (IGOs)—such as the United Nations, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Nonaligned Movement, and the World Trade Organization (WTO)—are just about the only way Singapore can hope to have any influence on world events and decision-making; its clout in unilateral or bilateral relations is rather limited. Additionally, by actively and noticeably involving itself in such institutions and organizations—coupled with a sizable and active foreign ministry (relative to its size)—Singapore has tried to make its participation instrumental and influential. A high global profile and the appearance of “punching above its weight” gives Singapore presence and weight in global affairs that a small state might not usually have (Solli et al. 2013: 259). This can be seen in other areas, where Singapore consciously tries to “raise its brand” and make itself globally relevant. The country, for example, hosts the annual Shangri-la dialogue on Asian security and defense, and it is just one of a handful of countries that hosts a Formula One grand prix race. It has made itself a center for banking and air travel, and Singapore Airlines is typically considered one of the best airlines in the world. Belonging to an IGO like the Arctic Council fits in well with Singapore’s perception of itself as a useful and positive player in global affairs (Tonami 2014: 3). As Ian Storey has put it, “it would not be an exaggeration to say that the city-state had become the poster child for globalization,” and that, consequently, Singapore has “adopted a proactive approach to joining global governance forums and institutions so that it could help shape positive outcomes in areas that affected the city-state’s core interests” (Storey 2016: 65). This policy goes back decades: In 1991, Singapore

Singapore: A Tangential but Constructive Player in the Arctic


released a “Strategic Economic Plan” that declared: “Singapore has the world as its resource. Be it raw materials, information, labor or tourist resorts, Singapore can create products and services that are not bound by traditional concepts of space and other constraints…Globalization doesn’t merely mean doing things overseas. Singaporeans have to embrace the global socio-economic space and endear themselves to the world” (cited in Bennett 2017: 9). With regard to maritime affairs (a critical concern for the trade-dependent state), for example, Singapore has long been a member of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and it has been on the IMO’s governing council since the early 1990s; the country supported the organization’s “Polar Code,” intended to strengthen maritime safety and environmental protection in the polar regions. As previously mentioned, climate change has become such a “core interest” for Singapore, so it is not surprisingly that it would seek a seat at the table of the Arctic Council (even if it was only observer status). As an observer, it can learn first-hand the issues and challenges that face the Arctic region, and it can in turn educate the key member-states as to how climate change and other environmental developments in the High North is affecting countries far from the region (MFA). In addition, as with other global institutions and IGOs, Singapore has sought to make a worthwhile contribution to the Council (and thereby demonstrate its instrumentality) by participating in three Council working groups: the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF); the Protection of the Marine Environment (PAME); and the Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response (EPPR) (Nadarajah). According to Sam Tan, the country’s foreign minister, Singapore’s membership in such working groups is where “we share Singapore’s best practices and knowledge in preventing oil spill and conserving biodiversity” (Tan 2017). In addition, Singapore contributes to the CAFF through its Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, which provides a sanctuary to 34 species of Arctic migratory birds (Sharp 2018: 1–2). Finally, under the Singapore-Arctic Council Permanent Participants Cooperation Package, Singapore offers full scholarships for students from indigenous communities in the Arctic to pursue post-graduate programs at Singapore universities and other institutions in disciplines such as maritime law, public policy and administration, and maritime studies (UArctic 2015; Bennett 2017: 14–15).

Conclusions Singapore’s concerns about unfolding Arctic developments—particularly those related to climate change and the melting of the polar icecaps—is understandable. Rising sea levels constitute a direct existential challenge to the country: there is literally very little “higher ground” to which Singaporeans can flee. Consequently, it is reasonable for Singapore to have access to information regarding changes in the High North; hence, its interest in joining the Arctic Council. At the same time, it hopes to be able to contribute to the environmental health of the Arctic (and therefore forestall or mitigate detrimental climate change); hence, its efforts to support


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sustainable development, local wildlife conservation, preventing or cleaning up oil spills, and “cold regions” engineering (Tan 2016). In this regard, Singapore is also gradually building up expertise in Arctic research, including climate science, maritime law, and engineering, and cementing relations with indigenous peoples in the Arctic region. Singapore’s low-key efforts have paid dividends. In particular, it has made positive but unobtrusive contributions to the work of the Council. Consequently, Singapore is seen as a “benign yet valuable member” of the Arctic Council, particularly compared to China, which has been trying to use its self-declared status as a “near-Arctic state” as a way to have “more rights than other observers” on the Council (Nadarajah 2018). Nevertheless, Singapore’s attachments to the Arctic region are still pretty tenuous, and its efforts regarding the region have been more precautionary if proactive. Singapore’s primary external focus is still narrowly regional, i.e., Southeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific. Singapore does not have any direct strategic interests in the Arctic, nor does it have a stake in exploiting the natural resources (oil, natural gas, and other minerals) abundant in the region: “the High North is unlikely to be a cash cow for Singapore firms any time soon” (Storey 2016: 68). Consequently, Singapore is likely to always be, at best, a tangential but constructive player in the Arctic region.

References Baev, P. (2015). Russia’s arctic aspirations. In J. Jokela (Ed.), Arctic security matters. EU Institute for Security Studies. Bennett, M. M. (2017). Singapore: The ‘global city’ in a globalizing arctic. Journal of Borderlands Studies. Burke, D. C., & Saramago, A. (2018). With all eyes on China, Singapore makes its own Arctic moves. The conversation. Deck, R. A. (1999). Singapore: Comprehensive security—Total defense. In K. Booth & R. Trood (Ed.), Strategic cultures in the Asia-Pacific region. London: Palgrave Mcillan. Humpert, M. (2013). The future of arctic shipping: A new silk road? The Arctic Institute. Keil, K. (2015). Economic potential. In J. Jokela (Ed.), Arctic security matters. EU Institute for Security Studies. Kraska, J., & Baker, B. (2014). Emerging arctic security challenges. Center for a New American Security. Nadarajah, H. (2018, July 24). How Singapore legitimizes its presence on the Arctic Council. Today. National Intelligence Council (NIC). (2012, December). Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds, NIC 2012-001. http://www.dni.gov/files/documents/GlobalTrends_2030.pdf. Sharp, G. (2018, January 9). Linking Singapore, Asia, and the Arctic. Arctic Today. Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). (2018, March 22). Singapore and the Arctic Council. Solli, P. E., Wilson Rowe, E, & Yennie Lindgren, W. (2013). Coming into the cold: Asia’s Arctic Interests. Polar Geography, 36(4). S’pore to get even hotter and wetter. Straits Times, June 29, 2014. Stang, G. (2015). Climate change. In J. Jokela (Ed.), Arctic security matters. EU Institute for Security Studies. Storey, I. (2014, July). The Arctic Novice: Singapore and the High North. Asia Policy, (18). Storey, I. (2016). Singapore and the Arctic: Tropical Country, Arctic Interests. In V. Sakhuja & K. Narula (Eds.), Asia and the Arctic: Narratives, perspectives and policies. Singapore: Springer.

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Tan, A. (2019, January 21). Arctic events will have big impact on Singapore: Sam Tan. Straits Times. Tan, S. S., & Chew, A. (2008). Governing Singapore’s security sector: Problems, prospects, and paradox. Contemporary Southeast Asia, 30(2). Tan, S. (2016, May 23). What is the connection between Singapore and the Arctic Region? Today. Tan, S. (2017, September 29). Arctic Frontiers seminar in Singapore—Opening talk by Minister Sam Tan. Arctic Frontiers. www.mynewsdesk.com/no/arctic-frontiers/news/arctic-frontiers-seminarin-singapore-opening-talk-by-minister-sam-tan-264384. Tonami, A. (2014, September). Arctic Policies of Japan, South Korea, and Singapore. Wilson Center. Tonami, A. (2017, December 18). Keppel hands over new multi-purpose ice-class vessel. Offshore Energy Today. UArctic. (2015). Postgraduate scholarships in Singapore for Arctic indigenous students. UArctic.org., May 22, 2015. https://www.uarctic.org/news/2015/5/postgraduate-scholarships-insingapore-for-arctic-indigenous-students/. Zhuravel, V. P., & Danilov, A. P. (2016). Singapore on the way to the Arctic. Arctic and the North, (24).

Richard A. Bitzinger is a Visiting Senior Fellow with the Military Transformations Program at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), where his work focuses on security and defense issues relating to the Asia-Pacific region, including military modernization and force transformation. He was a Senior Fellow at RSIS from 2006 to 2018, and he headed up the Military Transformations Program from 2012 to 2018; he has also worked for the RAND Corporation, the CIA, and the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (Honolulu, Hawaii). Mr. Bitzinger has written several monographs and book chapters, and his articles have appeared in such journals as International Security, Orbis, China Quarterly, and Survival. He is the author of The Arctic Region as a New Military Domain (RSIS 2016), and his most recent book is Arming Asia: Technonationalism and Its Impact on Local Defense Industries (Routledge, 2017).

Basics: Economies, Infrastructures and Law in the Arctic

A Divided Arctic: Maritime Boundary Agreements and Disputes in the Arctic Ocean Clive Schofield and Andreas Østhagen

Introduction In recent years, and particularly since significant melting and contraction of Arctic Ocean summer sea ice coverage, the Arctic region has been characterised by some commentators1 and in the media2 as an area of geopolitical competition and potential conflict. This discourse has been framed around the ideas of a competition or ‘race’ for marine resources as well as access to fabled sea lanes ‘across the top of the world’. Such narratives also tend to suggest that the Arctic Ocean is not only environmentally precious, unique and fragile but also somehow an exception legally. That is, a region somehow beyond the norm, un- or under-governed and subject to multiple conflicting maritime claims and boundary disputes. Such dark and stormy visions of the region do not accord with Arctic realities. This chapter places the Arctic in international legal, and particularly law of the sea, context and finds that the maritime claims of the Arctic coastal States are predominantly in keeping with international legal norms. The chapter goes on to detail the substantial progress that the Arctic coastal states have achieved in terms of resolving overlapping maritime claims through the delimitation of maritime boundary agreements between themselves.

1 See

for example, Borgerson (2008), Grindheim (2009), Sale and Potapov (2010) and Dadwal (2014). 2 See for example Burkeman (2008), Reilly (2013), Barnes (2015) and Mandraud (2014). C. Schofield (B) WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute, World Maritime University (WMU), Fiskehamnsgatan 1, 211 18 Malmö, Sweden e-mail: [email protected] A. Østhagen Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Oslo, Norway © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 J. Weber (ed.), Handbook on Geopolitics and Security in the Arctic, Frontiers in International Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-45005-2_11



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Greater uncertainty exists concerning ‘outer’ or ‘extended’ continental shelf rights seawards of 200 nautical miles (M) from baselines along the coast. Nonetheless, despite broad areas of overlapping assertions to continental shelf rights in the central Arctic Ocean, conflict over maritime or shelf boundaries has been absent and instead the region has instead been characterised by substantial scientific cooperation. The Arctic is indeed divided. The Arctic Ocean is, as it were, ‘carved up’ into zones of exclusive sovereign rights and entitlements. However, this is hardly dissimilar to the rest of the world ocean. Moreover, the Arctic states appear to be abiding by the rules established under international law, their maritime claims are broadly consistent with the law of the sea and the majority of their bilateral maritime boundaries have been subject to agreement. In turn, we argue that it is this progress in maritime boundary delimitation that has enabled the Arctic states to keep the region largely free from jurisdictional disputes and so-called territorial grabs.

The Law of the Sea and the Arctic Ocean The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOSC) of 1982 (United Nations 1983) provides the generally accepted legal framework governing maritime jurisdictional claims and the delimitation of maritime boundaries between national maritime zones. The LOSC has gained widespread international recognition and, at the time of writing, 167 states (plus the European Union) had become parties to it (United Nations 2019). A key achievement of the LOSC was agreement on the spatial limits to national claims to maritime jurisdiction. Indeed, the Convention “was negotiated in part to halt the creeping jurisdictional claims of coastal States” (Roach and Smith 2012: 4). Maritime zone claims under the LOSC are predominantly defined as extending to a set distance from baselines along the coast. In accordance with the terms of LOSC, the breadth of a coastal state’s territorial sea is not to exceed 12 M from baselines along the coast (LOSC, Articles 3 and 4). The LOSC also provides for a contiguous zone out to 24 M from the baselines (LOSC, Article 33(2)) and introduced the concept of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) which “shall not extend beyond 200 M from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured” (LOSC, Article 57). Thus, in order to delineate the outer limits of each of these zones of maritime jurisdiction, an understanding of the location of baselines along the coast is required, coupled with a geodetically robust (that is, precise) calculations of the relevant distance measurements of 12, 24 and 200 M from the seaward-most basepoints along those baselines (see Fig. 1). The definition of the outer limits of the continental shelf is a more complex task involving a range of geophysical criteria as well as distance measurements, as will be explored further below in relation to the central Arctic Ocean. In this context it is worth emphasising that beyond the 12 M limits of the territorial sea, these maritime zones provide specific sovereign rights over these areas as laid down in the LOSC rather than to full sovereignty.

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Fig. 1 Arctic maritime claims and boundaries. Source Prepared for the authors by I Made Andi Arsana, based on internationally available information, notably the International Bathymetric Chart of the Ocean (IBCAO) and General Bathymetric Chart of the Ocean (GEBCO)

For parties to it the Convention provides the binding legal framework governing maritime jurisdictional claims and the delimitation of maritime boundaries between national maritime zones. Of the five states with coasts fronting directly onto the Arctic Ocean3 —Canada, Denmark, Norway and the Russian Federation—four are parties to the LOSC (United Nations 2019). While the USA is not a party to the LOSC, it pursues oceans policies consistent with the LOSC. Further, the United States “believes that the general practice of States reflects acceptance as international law of the non-seabed parts of the LOS Convention” (Roach and Smith 2012: 15).4 Those parts of the Convention dealing with maritime claims and maritime boundary delimitation can therefore be considered declaratory of customary international law. That the Arctic Ocean is subject to the same rules and norms as other parts of the global ocean, is clearly the view of the five Arctic littoral states, as was made explicit in the Ilulissat Declaration of 2008 wherein it was stated that:

3 As

opposed to Arctic region countries, Finland, Iceland and Sweden, which lack coastal fronts on the Arctic Ocean. 4 The reference to the seabed parts of the LOSC here relates to Part XI of the Convention dealing with the international seabed area (known simply as “the Area”), beyond national jurisdiction, the original terms of which the United States objected to.


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… [T]he law of the sea provides for important rights and obligations concerning the delineation of the outer limits of the continental shelf, the protection of the marine environment, including ice-covered areas, freedom of navigation, marine scientific research, and other uses of the sea. We remain committed to this legal framework and to the orderly settlement of any possible overlapping claims. (Ilulissat Declaration 2008)

On the basis of the framework provided by the LOSC, the Arctic five were therefore of the view that no need to develop a new comprehensive international legal regime to govern the Arctic Ocean (Ilulissat Declaration 2008). Accordingly, the applicable law in relation to maritime claims and the delimitation of maritime boundaries in the Arctic is provided by the LOSC and the practice of the Arctic states will be assessed against its provisions.

Arctic Baselines and Maritime Claims Arctic Baselines As noted above, claims to maritime jurisdiction are generally measured from baselines along the coast. Baselines, or more specifically critical basepoints located along such baselines, are often of great relevance to the delimitation of maritime boundaries. This is because of the enduring popularity of equidistance, that is a middle or median, line constructed between opposing sets of baselines, as a method of maritime boundary delimitation (Schofield 2012: 729). In keeping with Article 5 of the LOSC under normal circumstances baselines along the coast will consist of “the low-water line along the coast as marked on large-scale charts officially recognized by the coastal State.” While all of the Arctic coastal states possess such “normal” baselines by default, all save for the United States have also claimed straight baselines along part of their coasts fronting the Arctic Ocean. Article 7 of LOSC provides for straight baselines to be defined “where the coastline is deeply indented and cut into, or if there is a fringe of islands along the coast in its immediate vicinity.” While the intent of Article 7 is clear, that is, to deal with especially complex coastal configurations, this provision of the LOSC does not contain objective tests. This has led to excessive straight baseline claims, including some of the straight baselines defined in the Arctic. It is, however, important to note that straight baselines are still dependent on the location of normal baselines to some extent. This is because straight baselines connect points on the coast and, in particular, need to be tied back or anchored to the low-water line such that each system of baselines is “closed” (United Nations 1989: 23). Canada has defined an extensive system of straight baselines around the Arctic archipelago and the Arctic mainland (Government of Canada 1985, 1996). Norway drew straight baselines around Svalbard in 2001; Denmark drew straight baselines around Greenland in 2004 (Anderson 2009: 373–384). The Russian Federation

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declared an extensive system of straight baselines for its Arctic coast and islands in 1985, including straight baselines around much of Novaya Zemlaya, Severnaya Zemlaya, and the Novosibirsk Islands (Russian Federation 1985). These claims have been met with international protests, particularly on the part of the United States. For example, Canada’s straight baseline claims have been protested by both the United States and the European Union (Roach and Smith 2012: 111–112, 318–328; Schofield and Sas 2015). These protests were in large part connected to Canada’s characterisation of the waters within its claimed straight baselines as “historic internal waters” including parts of the Northwest Passage which other states view as a strait used for international navigation (McDorman 2009: 225–254). Russia’s straight baseline claims have similarly been protested because they connect the mainland to islands in three areas, thus blocking international straits. As the world’s pre-eminent maritime power, the USA has taken a conservative or restrictive view in respect of maritime claims and has routinely protested against what it views as excessive maritime claims, including those related to baselines, especially where they are viewed as infringing navigational freedoms through the Freedom of Navigation (FON) Program (Roach and Smith 2012: 6–9). In the past identifying the location of normal baselines was fraught with difficulty in the context of ice-covered coasts (Prescott and Schofield 2005: 520–521). Thanks to the radical environmental changes that the Arctic region has experienced in recent years, arguably this issue has eased. However, as normal baselines are coincident with the low-water line along the coast, as the coast moves as a result of deposition or erosion so the normal baseline can “ambulate” and thus, potentially, the limits to maritime jurisdiction dependent upon them may also shift in location (Reed 2000: 185; ILA 2012: 31). Large portions of the Arctic shoreline have a high ice content and, moreover, have in the past been ice-locked for most of the year but are now exposed to wave and storm action (International Arctic Science Committee 2011). This means that Arctic coasts, and thus normal baselines, are vulnerable to slumping, subsidence and erosion, resulting in retreat in the location of the coast and baselines landward with the potential to impact on the extent of Arctic maritime claims (Schofield and Sas 2015).

Arctic Maritime Claims All of the Arctic coastal states adhere to the maritime jurisdictional terms of the LOSC. This is not only because they are obliged to do so per international law, but also because it is in their national interests to uphold LOSC in the Arctic. Consistent with the terms of the LOSC, the Arctic coastal States have advanced broad maritime claims in the Arctic (Churchill 2001). These maritime claims include 12 M breadth territorial seas (except in respect of Greenland where a 3 M territorial sea is claimed). Canada, Norway, Russia and the United States also claim contiguous zone right out to 24 M, although Norway’s claim


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of a contiguous zone does not apply to Jan Mayen Island or Svalbard. Additionally, all of the Arctic coastal states claim EEZs out to 200 M (United Nations 2010) (see Fig. 1). Contrary to the aforementioned notions of the Arctic as a ‘free for all’, the past and present conduct of the Arctic Ocean littoral states has been predominantly in accordance with international law and particularly the LOSC (Townsend-Gault 2007). Indeed, by virtue of the maritime zones provided by the LOSC, the Arctic littoral states have been able to claim vast areas of maritime jurisdiction and, accordingly, sovereign rights over valuable marine resources. The prospects for the delimitation of boundaries in the Arctic are enhanced by the near complete lack of territorial disputes. The exception to this rule is Canada and Denmark’s sovereignty dispute over Hans Island, located in the Nares Strait between Ellesmere Island and Greenland. However, this particularly high latitude dispute did not prevent the parties from concluding a continental shelf boundary agreement in 1973 (see below). Nonetheless, the maritime claims o the Arctic littoral states do tend to converge and overlap with one another resulting in overlapping claims between adjacent Arctic neighbours. These areas of overlapping maritime claims have, however, been largely resolved through the delimitation of maritime boundaries.

Arctic Maritime Boundary Agreements There are five bilateral maritime boundary situations in the Arctic from west to east: Russian Federation-United States, United States-Canada, Canada-Denmark (Greenland), Denmark (Greenland)-Norway and Norway-Russian Federation (see Fig. 1). Contrary to the impression that might be gleaned from the ‘scramble for the Arctic’ narrative noted above, considerable progress has been achieved in the resolution of overlapping maritime claims between adjacent Arctic States, at least within 200 M of the coast. Indeed, four of the five potential bilateral maritime boundaries between adjacent Arctic States having been wholly or partially delimited, the Canada-United States dispute relating to the Beaufort Sea being the exception (see below). Additionally, a number of near or sub-Arctic maritime boundary agreements have been achieved in the north Atlantic Ocean between Denmark (Greenland and the Faroes), Iceland and Norway. Consequently, the maritime political map of the Arctic Ocean is substantially more complete than is the case globally where only a little over half of potential maritime boundaries have been subject to even partial delimitation (Prescott and Schofield 2005: 218; Cannon 2016; Ásgeirsdóttir and Steinwand 2016: 1293; Newman 2018). Where there is considerably greater uncertainty is with respect to the division of continental shelf areas seawards of 200 nm EEZ limits (see below). Chronologically, Norway and what was then the Soviet Union delimited the first Arctic maritime boundary in 1957, albeit a relatively short one, stretching from the terminus of the two countries’ land boundary on the coast for 24.35 M through

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the Varanger Fjord (Norway-Soviet Union 1957). This early treaty was effectively superseded by agreements between Norway and the Russian Federation dating from 2007 and 2010 (see below). In 1973 Canada and Denmark, on behalf of Greenland, agreed upon a near 1500 M long continental shelf boundary (Canada-Denmark 1973). The boundary stretches from near the intersection their 200 M limits in the mouth of the Davis Strait in the south to the Lincoln Sea in the north by way of Baffin Bay, Nares Strait and Robeson Channel (Alexander 1993: 371–372). The agreement is innovative for two main reasons. First, the boundary contains a short gap in the Nares Strait within which is located Hans Island which is disputed between the two States. This feature is a little over 1 km2 and is the sole disputed land territory in the Arctic region. Leaving a gap in the continental shelf boundary, such that the boundary line stops just to the south of Hans Island, and then continues just to the north of it, was a creative way to circumvent the sovereignty dispute. Secondly, while the boundary is based on equidistance between opposite shores, at the time of its negotiation there was uncertainty over the location of certain basepoints in the high Arctic so the treaty included provision for the adjustment of the line on the basis of the same principles in light of new surveys (Canada-Denmark 1973: Article 4). Accordingly, a slight adjustment to the boundary line was made in 2004 (Canada-Denmark 2004). A further long maritime boundary was delimited between the United States and the then Soviet Union in 1990 (US-USSR 1990; Verville 1993). This agreement stretches through the Bearing Straits between Alaska and Russia and extends into the Arctic Ocean to the north and the Bearing Sea to the south. The agreement is based on the line defining the western limit of the area covered by the 1867 Convention whereby the United States purchased Alaska from the Russian Empire (Russia-United States 1867). The boundary line relevant to the Arctic Ocean is a straight line heading due north from a specified point in the Bearing Straits “as far as permitted under international law” and thus to their 200 M limits and potentially further seaward in the central Arctic Ocean dependent on the delineation of outer continental shelf limits beyond their EEZ limits (see below). It can also be observed that the agreement provides for four “Special Areas”, one of which is located in the Arctic Ocean (the other three being in the Bearing Sea) and comprises an area on the U.S. side of the boundary line which is within 200 M of the baselines of the Soviet Union but beyond 200 M from the baselines of the United States (US-USSR 1990: Article 3(1)). These special areas ensured that all of the maritime spaces within 200 M of either or both of their coast are delimited between the two States. While this boundary treaty is not in force as the Russian Federation has not formally ratified it, both sides have respected its terms since the agreement was signed, consistent with an exchange of notes between them (Verville 1993: 454; Smith 1994; Schofield 2015). It was not until February 2006 that further progress in maritime delimitation in the Arctic Ocean was achieved when Denmark and Norway reached agreement on an approximately 430 M-long equidistance-based continental shelf and fisheries zone boundary between the coasts of Greenland and Svalbard, adjusted slightly to take into account the presence of Denmark’s Tobias Island some 38 M off the Greenland coast (Denmark-Norway 2006; Oude Elferink 2007).


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By concluding the treaty, Denmark implicitly recognised that Svalbard generates both fishing and continental shelf rights. This was an important consideration for Norway as it underpins the Norwegian view that Svalbard is capable of generating offshore zones and thus its relevance for maritime boundary delimitation in the Arctic (see Fig. 1). This is something disputed by other states on the basis of the terms of the Spitsbergen or Svalbard Treaty (Svalbard Treaty 1920). To avoid escalating the dispute with other countries over the scope of the treaty and possible rights of access to offshore oil and gas resources, Norway has not claimed an EEZ around Svalbard (Hønneland 2013). However, rights over the continental shelf are inherent to the coastal state and therefore do not need to be claimed (LOSC, Article 77, McDorman 2009: 21–34). Norway claims that the continental shelf around Svalbard is an extension of that of the Norwegian mainland and is solely under Norwegian jurisdiction. Other countries dispute this view (Pedersen 2008, Anderson 2009). The argument that Svalbard’s continental shelf is contiguous to that of mainland Norway received support from the CLCS, which, in 2009, issued recommendations that recognised the existence of a Norwegian extended continental shelf to the north of Svalbard (CLCS 2009; Pedersen and Henriksen 2009). Undoubtedly the most significant relatively recent progress in resolving Arctic Ocean maritime disputes has come between Norway and the Russian Federation. In 2007 agreement was reached between Norway and the Russian Federation which essentially replaced the above-mentioned 1957 treaty and extended delimitation line to 39.41 M (Norway-Russia 2007). Further north, in the Barents Sea and Arctic Ocean, overlapping claims to continental shelf and encompassing an area of approximately 175,000 km2 persisted from the 1970s (Oude Elferink 2001: 185). At the core of the dispute was Norway’s preference for a median line solution and Russia’s preference for a sector line. Additionally, access to fisheries resources, especially commercially valuable cod and haddock stocks supported by the highly productive and diverse ecosystem of the Barents Sea, caused friction, although ultimately this led to cooperative management measures being adopted (Churchill and Ulfstein 1992). The breakthrough on the remaining boundary issues came in 2010, when the two countries committed to an all-purpose boundary that would be drawn “on the basis of international law in order to achieve an equitable solution”, recognising “relevant factors … including the effect of major disparities in respective coastal lengths” while dividing “the overall disputed area in two parts of approximately the same size” (Norwegian Government 2010). This four-decade long dispute was resolved through a landmark agreement achieved in 2010 whereby the disputed area, both within and beyond 200 M limits, was delimited for both continental shelf and EEZ rights between the two States (Norway-Russia 2010). The agreement contains provisions designed to maintain cooperation over fisheries (Henriksen and Ulfstein 2011: 1), and it also includes provisions on co-management of any hydrocarbons that straddle the boundary, through the conclusion of a ‘unitization agreement’ for the exploitation of any such deposits and on the access of private companies to drilling rights on either side of the boundary (Byers 2013: 43–44; Fjærtoft et al. 2018). An innovative feature of the agreement is that, analogous to the Special Areas defined between the US and USSR (see above), an area of EEZ located on the

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Russian side of the boundary line is actually beyond 200 M from Russian baselines but is within 200 M of the Norwegian coast (Norway-Russia 2010: Article 3). This arrangement enabled the States concerned to divide the entirety of the EEZ area within 200 M of their coasts but not necessarily within 200 M of the baselines of the State on whose side of the line a particular area of EEZ is located. The 2010 Agreement has been promoted as a model for the resolution of overlapping claims in the Arctic Ocean. Russian President Medvedev termed the agreement a way for the two States to “turn a new page” in relations and “a key step forward” whilst Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg referred to the treaty as a “historic milestone” and “new era of cooperation” (Stoltenberg 2010). In a joint statement both leaders hailed the agreement as a symbol of the Arctic as peaceful region where disputes resolved in accordance with international law. The agreement came into force following ratification by both States in 2011. Most recently, at the time of writing, in 2012 Canada and Denmark (Greenland) announced an agreement in principle on a maritime boundary out to 200 M in the Lincoln Sea (Canada 2012) (see below). The announcement stated that equidistance was to be applied and that further technical adjustments were to be made to the 1973 Agreement (see Fig. 1). That so many of the potential maritime boundaries in the Arctic Ocean have been subject to agreement and that long-running and previously apparently intractable boundary disputes such as that between Norway and Russia have been peacefully resolved appears to strongly counter to the narrative mentioned at the outset of this contribution concerning the Arctic as region of potential competition and conflict. Additionally, in the near Arctic, there agreements worth mentioning, albeit without going into extensive detail. Two of these concern Jan Mayen—a small island located roughly 250 M east of Greenland and 360 M northeast of Iceland. The island has been a Norwegian possession since 1930, when Norway claimed sovereignty through historic title. In 1981, the dispute that emerged between Norway and Iceland was resolved through a Conciliation Commission (Linderfalk 2016), whereby the Icelandic continental shelf was recognised as extending a full 200 M from the Icelandic coast in the area between Jan Mayen and Iceland, notwithstanding the proximity of the Norwegian island (Iceland-Norway 1981; Jensen 2014: 72–73). This was in recognition of Iceland’s dependence on fisheries as well as its greater size and population as compared with Jan Mayen (Schofield 2009). Although the Conciliation Commission made recommendations that whilst the continental shelf boundary should coincide with the EEZ boundary, a joint zone should also be established and a further treaty between the parties was concluded in 1981 which gives effect to the recommendations of the Conciliation Commission (Iceland-Jan Mayen 1981). The 45,470 km2 joint zone established under the 1981 agreement unevenly straddles the maritime boundary line with 61% on the Norwegian side and 39% on the Icelandic side (Iceland-Jan Mayen 1981: Articles 5–6). Each state is entitled to 25% of revenues deriving from the exploitation of oil and gas on the other side of boundary (Iceland-Jan Mayen 1981: Article 8). Additionally, hydrocarbon fields straddling the joint zone and Icelandic waters are considered wholly Icelandic. A follow-up treaty that provided a more detailed framework for cooperative exploration of straddling


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deposits and deposits within the two zones of 25% participation came in place in 2008 (Iceland-Norway 2008). Another boundary dispute emerged in 1980 when Denmark extended its 200 M fisheries zone from Greenland’s east coast, creating an overlap with the Norwegian zone on the northwest side of Jan Mayen (Churchill 2001). After years of unsuccessful negotiations, Denmark submitted the dispute to the ICJ in 1988 (Churchill 1994). In this Norway–Denmark dispute, the ICJ delimited a single maritime boundary between Greenland and Jan Mayen in 1993 (ICJ 1993). Further, in 1997, Denmark (Greenland) and Iceland concluded a maritime boundary between the two islands that had been attempted negotiated in 1980, and in turn awarded Iceland 70% of the disputed maritime area (Oude Elferink 1998: 608). Finally, in 2006 Denmark (Faroe Islands), Iceland and Norway reached agreement on potential maritime boundaries for the outer continental shelf of the ‘Banana Hole’ lying beyond 200 M between them through ‘Agreed Minutes’ (Denmark-Iceland-Norway 2006).

Arctic Disputes and Overlaps The main dispute that remains in the Arctic over maritime zones concerns delineation in the Beaufort Sea between Canada and the USA. The dispute centres on the wording of a treaty concluded between Russia and Great Britain in 1825 (the USA took on Russia’s Treaty rights when it purchased Alaska in 1867; Canada acquired Britain’s rights in 1880). This treaty set the eastern border of Alaska at the ‘meridian line of the 141st degree, in its prolongation as far as the frozen ocean’ (Great Britain-Russia 1825: para. 3). Canada asserts that this treaty provision established both the land border and the maritime boundary, and that both must follow a straight northern line. In contrast, the USA holds that the delimitation applies only to land and therefore does not extend beyond the terminus of the land boundary on the coast. For delimitation in the Beaufort Sea, the USA considers an equidistance line to be the legally and geographically appropriate approach (US Department of State 1995). Canada and the USA sought to resolve the Beaufort Sea dispute along with their other maritime boundary disputes in 1977–78. At the time, Canada indicated its willingness to approach the disputes as a package, expecting to be able to trade losses in the Beaufort Sea for gains elsewhere. However, the USA insisted on treating each dispute separately. Collaborative mapping beyond 200 M with a Canadian and a US icebreaker (2008– 2011) may have also opened the door to resolution of the boundary dispute, by showing that the continental shelf in the Beaufort Sea might stretch 350 M or even farther from the shore (Baker and Byers 2012). This is because introduction of the extended continental shelf adds a twist to the Beaufort Sea boundary dispute—if one extends the US-preferred equidistance line beyond 200 M, it changes direction towards the northwest because of the influence of Canadian Arctic islands on the course of a theoretical equidistance line (Baker and Byers 2012). Thus, while the sector-based approach is clearly more favourable to Canada in the area immediately

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offshore of the coast, this is not the case further offshore. Put another way, and somewhat confoundingly, in spatial terms both Canada and the US would benefit from adopting the other’s position. In short, what had appeared to be a zero-sum negotiating situation came to offer opportunities for creative trade-offs—opportunities that resulted in at least some diplomatic re-engagement in 2010 (Byers and Østhagen 2017). In February of that year, an official from the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs cited a probable overlap in the two states’ views of the areas subject to their extended continental shelf rights as the main reason for renewed efforts at resolving the Beaufort Sea boundary dispute (Boswell 2010a). In the Speech from the Throne in March 2010, the Canadian government signalled its desire to “work with other northern countries to settle boundary disagreements” (Government of Canada 2010). This was followed by a public invitation to open negotiations specifically on the Beaufort Sea boundary, delivered in May 2010 by Canada’s Foreign Minister Cannon during a speech in Washington, DC (Boswell 2010b). Discussions were suspended at some point in 2011, after the two countries decided they would need more scientific information on the existence and location of hydrocarbon reserves before negotiating a boundary. Other factors probably included Cannon’s departure from the foreign affairs portfolio, the mid-2011 fall in world oil prices, and concerns about Canadian domestic law and public opinion (Byers and Østhagen 2017). Another apparent domestic impediment to resolution of the boundary dispute is the 1984 Inuvialuit Final Agreement. This constitutionally recognized land-claims agreement between the Canadian government and the Inuvialuit uses the 141° W meridian to define the western limit of the Inuvialuit settlement region (Inuvialuit Final Agreement 1984). Under international law, Canada could enter into a maritime boundary treaty with the USA that would probably be valid and binding regardless of the domestic rights of the Inuvialuit (Byers and Østhagen 2017). Were a compromise line agreed upon, an amendment to the western limit of the Inuvialuit settlement region would be required. It is notable here that the adjusted description of the Inuvialuit settlement region states that the 141° W meridian limit is “without prejudice, however, to any negotiations or to any positions that have been or may be adopted by Canada respecting the limits of maritime jurisdiction in this area” (Inuvialuit Final Agreement, Annex A-1 [Adjusted Boundary]: 39–40). While this would seem to offer the Canada the flexibility required to negotiate a maritime boundary with the United States that departs from its 141° W claim line, it is inconceivable that the Canadian authorities would not consult on this with Inuit stakeholders. Indeed, under Canadian law, the federal government would be obliged to consult, to limit any infringement of Aboriginal rights as much as possible, to make any such limitation clear through an Act of Parliament, and to provide compensation (Byers and Østhagen 2017). The other dispute that remains concerning maritime zones is between Canada and Denmark in the Lincoln Sea. In 1982, Canadian and Danish diplomats met to discuss the Lincoln Sea boundary dispute, “with neither side moving from their respective positions” (Calderbank et al. 2006: 163). In 2004, the scope of the dispute was reduced


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when Denmark modified its straight baselines, replacing the 40.9 M baseline east of Beaumont Island with a series of shorter baselines, including one that connects Beaumont Island to John Murray Island, the next island in the chain (Kingdom of Denmark 2004). The Danish changes reduced the size of the northernmost disputed area almost to the point of eliminating it. It seems likely that these developments contributed to the announcement by the Canadian and Danish foreign ministers in 2012 that negotiators “have reached a tentative agreement on where to establish the maritime boundary in the Lincoln Sea” (Canada Department of Foreign Affairs 2012; Mackrael 2012). The only issue left for negotiation was a joint management regime for any straddling hydrocarbon deposits. This issue could not be dealt with solely by the Danish and Canadian negotiators, because, although Denmark retains control over Greenland’s foreign policy, the Greenland government has since 2008 exercised control over natural resources, including on the continental shelf (Jacobsen 2015). In 2018, the two countries further established a “Joint Task Force on Boundary Issues” in order to settle the outstanding issues regarding the maritime boundary (Global Affairs Canada 2018). Finally, apart from maritime zonal disputes and continental shelf extensions (see below), there is only one territorial dispute (over land) in the Arctic. As mentioned, the 1973-Treaty between Denmark (Greenland) and Canada left the issue of a small island remaining. Hans Island, with an area of only 1.3 km2 , is not mentioned in the treaty (Byers 2013: 10–16). The maritime boundary stops just short of the south shore of the island and begins again just off the north shore of the island. As a result, the dispute over Hans Island has been rendered almost irrelevant, as it now concerns only a tiny piece of land, with the surrounding seabed and water column having been allocated by treaty. Although the dispute over the island continues, it is not considered a contentious issue. In 2005, Canada and Denmark issued a joint statement, indicating that their officials would “discuss ways to resolve the matter.” In the meantime, “all contact by either side with Hans Island will be carried out in a low key and restrained manner” (Canada-Denmark 2005).

Outer Continental Shelf Areas and the Central Arctic Ocean On 2 August 2007 a Russian expedition used a submersible to drop a rust-proof titanium casket containing a Russian flag on the Arctic seabed at around 4200 m depth beneath the North Pole (BBC News 2007). This action generated considerable media coverage, much of which was decidedly alarmist in nature. This tone extended to the diplomatic arena when the Canadian Foreign Minister, Peter MacKay, appeared to dismiss the flag-dropping incident as a stunt, stating “This isn’t the 15th century. You can’t go around the world and just plant flags and say ‘We’re claiming this territory’” (Parfitt 2007). In response, the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, observed that “no one is throwing flags around” and analogies were drawn between Russia’s action and Hillary and Tenzing planting the Union Jack on the summit of Everest (Parfitt 2007).

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Indeed, Lavrov was at pains to emphasise that Russia was not acting unilaterally; rather, its actions were “in strict compliance with international law” (RIA Novosti 2007). This view was echoed by the Russian scientific establishment. For example, Victor Posyolov of the Russian Institute of Ocean Geology reportedly stated that: “A unilateral annexation of the area by Russia is impossible. We will strictly abide by the UN Convention” (RIA Novosti 2007). Concerning continental shelf areas seawards of 200 M, complex criteria were laid down in Article 76 of the LOSC whereby the outer limits of the continental shelf may be determined in partnership with a scientific and technical body established through the Convention—the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS). This complexity arises because continental shelf entitlements seawards of 200 M limits are delineated not solely by reference to a distance formula. Where the continental shelf is relatively narrow and falls within the 200 M limits of the EEZ in which case the outer limit of the continental shelf is coincident with that of the EEZ (LOSC, Article 57). However, where the continental margin extends beyond 200 M from a State’s baselines, the coastal State may be able to assert rights over that part of the continental shelf beyond the 200 M limit that forms part of its natural prolongation. These areas of continental shelf seawards of 200 M limits are often referred to as ‘outer’ or ‘extended’ continental shelf even though legally there is only one continental shelf. There are then two ways in which the coastal state can establish the existence of continental shelf seawards of the 200 M limit—either by reference to the thickness of the sedimentary rock, known as the ‘Gardiner Line’ (LOSC, Article 76(4)(a)(i)) or a distance of 60 M from the foot of the continental slope, known as the ‘Hedberg Line’, generally taken to be the point of maximum change in the gradient of the continental shelf (LOSC, Article 76(4)(a)(ii)). Two maximum constraint or cut-off lines are then applied: a limit of 100 M from the 2500-m depth isobath or depth contour, or 350 M from the coastal state’s baselines (LOSC, Article 76(5)). The question of extended continental shelf assertions in accordance with Article 76 of LOSC is undoubtedly both legally and scientifically fraught and numerous “complexities and ambiguities” associated with Article 76 have been identified (Macnab 2004a, b: 2–9; Cook and Carleton 2000), as well as issues in respect of the way in which the Commission works (McDorman 2002). Preparing a submission for the CLCS therefore requires a coastal state to gather information related to the morphology of its continental margin and its geological characteristics as well as bathymetric information relating to water depth as well as to determine distance measurements, for example, the location of 200 and 350 M limit lines (Schofield and Arsana 2009: 31–35). Despite the fact that this is necessarily an expensive and time-consuming task, this process does have the significant virtue of providing for a definable outer limit to the continental shelf—something that McDorman has termed “the real achievement” of Article 76 of LOSC (McDorman 2002: 307). All of the Arctic coastal states have been active in gathering the data required to formulate a submission, and some—like USA and Canada—have cooperated amongst themselves, for example in order to facilitate joint surveys. All of the Arctic littoral states save for the United States as a non-LOSC party, have made submissions to


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the CLCS. It appears from these submissions that should the CLCS be in agreement, the vast majority of the seabed of the Arctic Ocean will form part of the outer or extended continental shelf of the coastal states. The biggest uncertainty in this contest relates to the CLCS’s view of how the major Arctic Ocean ridge systems are to be treated. These include the Lomonosov and Gakkel Ridges where Canada, Denmark (Greenland) and the Russian Federation’s submissions overlap and the Alpha Rise where the submissions of Canada, the Russian Federation and the United States intersect (see Figs. 1 and 2). Here it is important to note that Commission lacks the mandate to consider areas subject to a sovereignty dispute or subject to overlapping maritime claims. Further, the Commission’s recommendations are also specifically without prejudice to the delimitation of maritime boundaries (LOSC, Article 76(10)). Ultimately, therefore, these overlapping assertions of continental shelf rights will need to be resolved by the submitting states themselves through diplomacy and negotiations. Pointedly, the three Arctic littoral states that are most likely to have to enter bilateral or trilateral negotiations over where to delineate their extended continental shelves—Canada, Denmark (Greenland) and Russia—have all declared their intention to work within the framework of LOSC and international diplomacy (Byers and Østhagen 2017; Østhagen 2018; Bykova 2019).

Fig. 2 Arctic Ocean 200 M limits and undersea features. Source Prepared for the authors by I Made Andi Arsana, based on internationally available information, notably the International Bathymetric Chart of the Ocean (IBCAO) and General Bathymetric Chart of the Ocean (GEBCO)

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A Region of Cooperation or Conflict? In this chapter, we have shown how the Arctic littoral states—in their efforts to both delineate their maritime zones and extend their continental shelves—have not only largely abided by the international legal regime for the oceans (LOSC), they have actively supported it and underlined their commitment to its procedures and principles. This must be understood as a consequence of the privileged position these countries find themselves in, vis-à-vis third party non-Arctic states. Affirming LOSC and agreeing on maritime boundaries in the Arctic region have not only been steps taken in order to provide frameworks for ocean-based resource development; it have been efforts to ensure the primacy of the Arctic states as other actors have engaged in regional affairs ranging from science to fisheries. It is clear that the Arctic states have made considerable progress in the delimitation of maritime boundaries. Further, they have also shown considerable innovation in their ocean boundary-making practice. This is strikingly illustrated, for instance by Canada and Denmark’s treatment of Hans Island as well as the provisions in that treaty allowing for the boundary line to change in response to more accurate surveys of formerly ice-covered coastlines. Similarly, the USA-USSR/Russia and NorwayRussia’s boundary arrangements where certain areas of EEZ within 200 M of one party are in effect administered by the other party even though the area in question is beyond 200 M from the latter shows considerable invention. Such creative practice may well be necessary in the future, especially against the context of a changing climate and coastline as the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on The Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate makes clear there are “high to very high risks are approached for vulnerable communities” for low-lying Arctic locations from sea level rise “well before the end of this century in the case of high emissions scenarios” (IPCC 2019: 32). This necessarily has implications for Arctic baselines, maritime zones and undelimited maritime boundaries. That said, the efforts and experiences across the Arctic region are not uniform. The context of the USSR-USA maritime boundary agreement signed in 1990 was markedly different than the context of the Norway-Russia agreement of 2010. Both the legal and the political situations differed. The remaining dispute between Canada and the USA involves strong domestic/regional components that did not come into play to the same extent in the two former cases. Moreover, relations between Iceland, Norway and Denmark (Greenland) determining the processes of the boundary arrangements in the Norwegian and Greenland Seas were in part defined by shared histories and cultural bonds, as well as the special status of Jan Mayen and Svalbard. In other words, the different boundary agreements and processes leading to those agreements across the Arctic do not seem to reflect any “special” Arctic circumstances or one distinct approach to these issues. At the same time, the attention given to the Arctic by the littoral states at the start of the new millennium have prompted renewed efforts in settling those boundaries that were still in dispute at that time. Between 2006 and 2012, four agreements or tentative agreements were


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signed, while Canada and the USA also embarked on a serious attempt to solve their still-outstanding boundary in the Beaufort Sea. What seems clear, from these Arctic cases, is how the entitlements that LOSC has awarded littoral states prompt cooperation ranging from managing shared fish stocks (as is relevant across all cases examined here) to joint development projects of petroleum resources. The Arctic “experience” therefore does not only counter those initial (and reoccurring) alarmist claims of territorial grabs, it showcases how the framework that indeed allows for maritime jurisdictional expansion underpins a situation devoid of outright conflict over who owns what, where.5

References Alexander, L. M. (1993). Canada-Denmark (Greenland). In J. I. Charney & L. M. Alexander (Eds.), International maritime boundaries (Vol. I, pp. 371–385). The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. Anderson, D. H. (2009). The status under international law of the maritime areas around Svalbard. Ocean Development and International Law, 40(4), 373–384. Ásgeirsdóttir, Á., & Steinwand, M. C. (2016). Distributive outcomes in contested maritime areas. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 62(6), 1284–1313. Baker, J. S., & Byers, M. (2012). Crossed lines: The curious case of the Beaufort Sea maritime boundary dispute. Ocean Development & International Law, 43, 70–95. Barnes, J. E. (2015, March 25). Cold War echoes under the Arctic ice. The Wall Street Journal. BBC News. (2007, August 2). Russia plants flag under N Pole. World. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/ world/europe/6927395.stm. Borgerson, S. (2008). Arctic meltdown: The economic and security implications of global warming. Foreign Affairs, 87(2). Boswell, R. (2010a, February 17). Beaufort Sea breakthrough. Vancouver Sun. Boswell, R. (2010b, May 14). Canada ready to settle Beaufort Sea dispute with U.S.: Cannon. CanWest News Service. Burkeman, O. (2008, April 5). A very Cold War indeed. The Guardian. Byers, M. (2013). International law and the Arctic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Byers, M., & Østhagen, A. (2017). Why does Canada have so many unresolved maritime boundary disputes? Canadian Yearbook of International Law, 54, 1–62. Bykova, A. (2019, May 27). Canada makes substantial step in Arctic territory delimitation, submits claim which includes North Pole. High North News. Calderbank, B., MacLeod, A. M., Gray, D. H., & McDorman, T. L. (2006). Canada’s offshore: Jurisdiction, rights, and management. Victoria, BC: Trafford Publishing. Canada, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development. (2012, November 28). Canada and Kingdom of Denmark reach tentative agreement on Lincoln Sea boundary. Press Release. www.international.gc.ca/media/aff/news-communiques/2012/11/28a.aspx. Canada-Denmark. (1973, December 17). Agreement between Canada and Denmark relating to the delimitation of the continental shelf between Greenland and Canada. 950 U.N.T.S. 147. Canada-Denmark. (2004, April 5, 20). Exchange of notes constituting an agreement to amend the 1973 Canada-Denmark continental shelf agreement. Canada Treaty Series 2009/27. Canada–Denmark joint statement on Hans Island. (2005, September 19). Cannon, A. (2016). The impact of sovereignty and boundary disputes on commercial investments. Herbert Smith Freehills. https://www.herbertsmithfreehills.com/latest-thinking/the-impact-ofsovereignty-and-boundary-disputes-on-commercial-investments. 5 This

contribution draws on the first author’s earlier works, with modifications, notably, Potts and Schofield (2008), Schofield et al. (2009), McDorman and Schofield (2015) and McDorman and Schofield (in press).

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Norway-Russian Federation. (2010, September 15). Treaty between Norway and the Russian Federation concerning maritime delimitation and cooperation in the Barents Sea and Arctic Ocean. 2791 U.N.T.S. 3. Norway-Soviet Union. (1957, February 27). Agreement between Norway and the Soviet Union concerning the sea frontier in the Varangerfjord. 312 U.N.T.S. 289. Norwegian Government. (2010). Joint statement on maritime delimitation and cooperation in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean. Press Release. Østhagen, A. (2018). Geopolitics and security in the Arctic. In M. Nuttall, T. R. Christensen, & M. Siegert (Eds.), Routledge handbook of the polar regions (pp. 348–356). Abingdon, UK: Routledge. Oude Elferink, A. G. (1998). Current legal developments: Denmark/Iceland/Norway. The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law, 13(4), 607–616. Oude Elferink, A. G. (2001). Arctic maritime delimitations: The preponderance of similarities with other regions. In A. G. Oude Elferink & D. R. Rothwell (Eds.), The law of the sea and polar maritime delimitation and jurisdiction (pp. 179–199). The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. Oude Elferink, A. G. (2007). Maritime delimitation between Denmark/Greenland and Norway. Ocean Development & International Law, 38(4), 375–380. Parfitt, T. (2007, August 10). Russia’s Arctic claim. The Guardian. Pedersen, T. (2008). The constrained politics of the Svalbard offshore area. Marine Policy, 32(6), 913–919. Pedersen, T., & Henriksen, T. (2009). Svalbard’s maritime zones: The end of legal uncertainty? The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law, 24(1), 141–161. Potts, T., & Schofield, C. H. (2008). An Arctic scramble? Opportunities and threats in the (formerly) frozen north, current legal developments: The Arctic. International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law, 23(1), 201–226. Prescott, J. R. V., & Schofield, C. H. (2005). The Maritime Political Boundaries of the World (2nd ed.). Leiden/Boston: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. Reed, M. W. (2000). Shore and sea boundaries: The development of international maritime boundary principles through United States practice (3 Vols.). Washington, DC: US Department of Commerce. Reilly, T. (2013, May 24). China’s ambitions make Arctic a global hotspot. Financial Times. RIA Novosti. (2007, August 3). Russia guided by international law in its polar shelf probe. RIA Novosti. Roach, J. A., & Smith, R. W. (2012). Excessive maritime claims (3rd ed.). Leiden/Boston: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. Russia-United States. (1867, March 30). Convention ceding Alaska between Russia and the United States. (Article I, reprinted in Consolidated treaty series, pp. 331–335, by C. Parry, Ed., Vol. 134, 1969, Dobbs Ferry: Oceana Publications). Russian Federation. (1985, January 15). Decree 4450. www.un.org/depts/los/ LEGISLATIONANDTREATIES/PDFFILES/RUS.htm. Sale, R., & Potapov, E. (2010). The scramble for the Arctic: Ownership, exploitation and conflict in the far north. London: Frances Lincoln. Schofield, C. (2009). Blurring the lines: maritime joint development and the cooperative management of ocean resources. Issues Legal Scholarship, 7, i. Schofield, C. H. (2012). Departures from the coast: Trends in the application of territorial sea baselines under the law of the sea convention. In D. Freestone (Ed.), The 1982 law of the sea convention at 30: Successes, challenges and new agendas (pp. 49–58). Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff. Schofield, C. H. (2015). Dividing and managing increasingly international waters: Delimiting the Bering Sea, strait and beyond. In J. Kraska & H. Scheiber (Eds.), Science, technology and new challenges to ocean law (pp. 313–344). Leiden/Boston: Martinus Nijhoff. Schofield, C. H., & Arsana, A. (2009). Beyond the Limits? Outer Continental Shelf Opportunities and Obligations in East and Southeast Asia. Contemporary Southeast Asia (Vol., 31(1), 28–63.


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Schofield, C. H., & Sas, B. (2015). Uncovered and unstable coasts: Climate change and territorial sea baselines in the Arctic. In S. Lalonde & T. L. McDorman (Eds.), The Arctic Ocean: Essays in honour of Donat Pharand (pp. 291–334). The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. Schofield, C. H., Potts, T., & Townsend-Gault, I. (2009). Boundaries, biodiversity, resources, and increasing maritime activities: Emerging oceans governance challenges for Canada in the Arctic Ocean. Vermont Law Review, 34(1), 35–55. Smith, R. W. (1994). United States-Russia maritime boundary. In G. H. Blake (Ed.), Maritime boundaries, world boundaries (Vol. 5, pp. 91–99). London: Routledge. Stoltenberg, J. (2010, April 27). Stoltenberg: A historic day! The Norway Post. http://www. norwaypost.no/news/stoltenberg-a-historic-day.html. Svalbard Treaty. (1920). Treaty between Norway, The United States of America, Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Ireland and the British overseas dominions and Sweden concerning Spitsbergen. Signed in Paris 9th February 1920. Longyearbyen: The Governor of Svalbard. http://www.sysselmannen.no/Documents/Sysselmannen_dok/English/ Legacy/The_Svalbard_Treaty_9ssFy.pdf. Townsend-Gault, I. (2007). Not a carve-up: Canada, sovereignty and the Arctic Ocean. International Zeitschrift, 1(3). www.zeitschrift.co.uk/. US Department of State. (1995). Public notice 2237: Exclusive economic zone and maritime boundaries. United Nations. (1989). Baselines: An examination of the relevant provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. New York: Office for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, United Nations. United Nations. (2019, June 27). Status of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, of the agreement relating to the implementation of part XI of the convention and of the agreement for the implementation of the convention relating to the conservation and management of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks. New York: United Nations. https://www. un.org/Depts/los/reference_files/status2019.pdf. United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOSC). (1983). Montego Bay, 10 December 1982, 1833 U.N.T.S. 397 (in force 16 November 1994), Publication No. E97.V10. New York: United Nations. United Nations, Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS). (2010, June 25). Table of claims to maritime jurisdiction. www.un.org/depts/los/LEGISLATIONANDTREATIES/ claims.htm. United States-Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (1990, June 1). Agreement between the United States of America and The Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics on the maritime boundary, provisionally in force 15 June 1990, (1990). 29 I.L.M. 941. Verville, E. G. (1993). United States-Soviet Union. In J. I. Charney & L. M. Alexander (Eds.), International maritime boundaries (Vol. I, pp. 447–460). Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff.

Clive Schofield is Head of Research at the WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute, World Maritime University, Malmö, Sweden and is also a Professor with the Australian Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS), University of Wollongong (UOW), Australia. He holds a PhD in Geography from the University of Durham, UK and also holds an LLM in international law from the University of British Columbia (UBC). His research interests relate to international maritime boundary delimitation and marine jurisdictional issues on which he has published over 200 scholarly publications. He has also been actively involved in the peaceful settlement of boundary and territory disputes by providing independent expert advice to governments engaged in boundary negotiations and in cases before international judicial bodies.

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Andreas Østhagen is a Senior Research Fellow at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute in Oslo, Norway. Østhagen is also a Senior Fellow and Leadership Group member at The Arctic Institute, Washington D.C., a Senior Fellow at the High North Center at Nord University Business School and teaches at Bjørknes University College, Oslo. His work focuses on maritime disputes and resource management in the north and beyond, under the larger framework of international relations and Arctic geopolitics. Østhagen holds a PhD in international relations from the University of British Columbia focused on ocean politics and disputes. He also holds a Master of Science from the London School of Economics in international affairs, and a Bachelor’s degree in political economy from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

The Potential of Polar Routes: The Opening of a New Ocean Rachael Gosnell

Introduction The allure of a maritime route through the Arctic has long captivated mariners seeking a more expeditious transit between markets. Yet the impassable ice which blanketed the vast majority of Arctic waters formed an unyielding barrier to sailing aspirations for centuries. Recent warming trends are giving rise to an increasingly accessible maritime domain throughout the Arctic basin, yielding tremendous potential for the High North. Shrinking ice coverage, abundant natural resources, and evolving geopolitical trends are prompting stakeholders to reexamine the Arctic’s vast economic and strategic potential. Recent geostrategic developments—and robust Russian and NATO Arctic exercises—have sparked concerns for militarizing the Arctic, a region long identified by the adage ‘High North, low tension.’ There are significant challenges for the viability of future maritime activity in the Arctic and the complexities of operating in the region will temper enthusiasm for most mariners. Although maritime traffic will remain limited to a small fraction of overall global activity, it is critical to better understand the challenges and drivers of traffic in the region—and the impact on regional security and stability.

History of Arctic Maritime Routes While the indigenous peoples of the High North have long sought to leverage the sea for transportation, the majority of Arctic traffic was initially limited to coastal regions of the ice-free periphery of the High North. Interest in exploring the region All views expressed are the author’s own and do not reflect the U.S. Department of Defense or the Department of the Navy. R. Gosnell (B) University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 J. Weber (ed.), Handbook on Geopolitics and Security in the Arctic, Frontiers in International Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-45005-2_12



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has been enduring, with the first European Arctic exploration believed to be led by the Greek Pytheas, who reached Iceland as early as 325 BC (Kostianoy et al. 2004: 19). The Vikings were prolific explorers in the region, colonizing Iceland in the late ninth century. Icelandic explorers, led by Erik ‘the Red’ Thorvoldson, discovered and subsequently colonized Greenland (Moosmuller 1911: 16–17). Vikings were known to sail as far as the north-east coast of North America. The discovery of riches in the Far East prompted European mariners to seek faster routes between the two continents, including the elusive Northwest Passage believed to connect Europe to the Orient. Records indicate that the first such attempt to discover the Northwest Passage was by British mariner John Cabot, who sailed in 1497 on a futile voyage. Over the next couple of centuries, the region would bear witness to numerous explorers seeking to chart a passage through the Arctic (Williams 2010: 45). The Arctic also saw frequent whaling expeditions from the 1500s onwards, as Europeans sought to capitalize on the resources of the sea. The first Dutch whaling voyages occurred in 1612; by 1684 there were 246 Dutch whaling ships alone setting sail for the Arctic (Vaughan 1984: 127; Hacquebord 1984: 142). Globally, more than 39,000 whaling expeditions into the Arctic would occur from the earliest documented voyages in 1610 until 1915 (Arctic Council 2009: 39). In the late eighteenth century, noted British explorer James Cook was the first to attempt to locate the Northwest Passage from the West. His expedition sailed through the Bering Strait into the Chukchi Sea in 1778 and reached as far north as 70° 44 min before being blocked by sea ice. Over the next century, expeditions would further chart the Canadian Arctic and, in 1906, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen successfully completed the Northwest Passage (NWP) transit. Yet the elusive journey was far from simple—Amundsen took three years to complete the journey and relied upon the Canadian Inuit to survive during the winters (Amundsen 1908). The first ship to transit the NWP in a single season was the Canadian ship St. Roch, captained by Henry Larsen in 1942 (Sarty 2015). Subsequent sailings in the passage remained sparse, with a primary focus on national security that included construction of the US-Canadian Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line of more than 50 radars and communication sites across more than 3,000 miles in the Arctic to provide early detection and warning of threats (Ray 1965). The US oil tanker Manhattan sailed the NWP in 1969, marking an increased focus on economic transits as the next twenty years saw ships seeking to discover or transport natural resources in the region (Nevel and Weeks 1970). Yet interest remained limited due to the challenges of operating in the region. The Northwest Passage was not the only target of those seeking to enhance security and economic prosperity. The Northeast Passage—now more commonly known as the Northern Sea Route—along the Russian coastline was also the target of explorers dating to the fifteenth century, with Russian diplomat and translator Dmitry Gerasimov suggesting a northern passage to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as early as 1525. Tsar Peter I the Great sponsored expeditions through the region and the first continuous sea route from Arkhangelsk to the mouth of the Yenisei River in the Kara Sea was opened for trade and transit by the seventeenth century. The first transit of the entire NSR was completed by Swedish explorer Baron Adolf Erik

The Potential of Polar Routes: The Opening of a New Ocean


Nordenskjold in 1879. Roald Amundsen became the first explorer to circumnavigate the Arctic Ocean when he completed a transit of the Northeast Passage in 1920.1 The Soviet government quickly sought to develop navigation and aviation capabilities in the Arctic Ocean. Recognizing the potential of a maritime route connecting the northern coast of the Soviet Union, the Northern Sea Route was opened to Soviet vessels in 1935. In the immediate years that followed, the Soviet Arctic shipping fleet employed 40–150 ships a year in transporting 100,000–300,000 tons of cargo annually. In 1938, British journalist H. P. Smolka noted “only in the last few months has the world begun to be conscious of Russia’s energetic efforts to push open her frozen window in the North and develop a Polar Empire” (Smolka 1938). During World War II, parts of the route became critical to resupplying the country with vital supplies from the Allies. Yet the NSR was still limited in navigability due to ice, though the government began to emphasize the possibility of year-round transit as early as the 1970s. This was achieved—and has subsequently been maintained—in the 1978–79 winter season for the western NSR, though ice accumulation has prevented it for the entire NSR. By the mid-1980s, the NSR was accounting for about 6.6 million tons of cargo transiting annually, with a peak 1,306 voyages made by 331 vessels in 1987. The vast majority of this tonnage, however, traveled between Russian ports along the NSR rather than connecting markets in Europe and Asia. In 1991, the NSR was opened to non-Russian vessels and the Northern Sea Route Administration was established (Tadeusz 2016). Russia had accumulated tremendous knowledge of Arctic navigation and developed the world’s most powerful ice-breaking fleet to ensure cargo—and the venerable Northern Fleet—could transit along its northern coast. Yet the collapse of the Soviet Union led to abandonment of numerous outposts in the Arctic and maritime traffic in the region receded.

An Opening Arctic With the unprecedented warming of the region causing diminished ice coverage, attention is again focusing on the maritime routes of the north. The Arctic, generally defined as the region north of the Arctic Circle at approximately 66° 34 min North, encompasses approximately six percent of the Earth’s surface, with an area of more than 8.2 million square miles. The Arctic Ocean itself is approximately 5.4 million square miles (US Geological Survey 2008). According to the 2018 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Arctic Report Card—compiled with input from more than 80 scientists in twelve countries—surface air temperatures in the Arctic are warming at twice the rate of the rest of the globe. The 2019 NOAA Arctic Report Card revealed the average annual land surface air temperature in the Arctic from October 2018-August 2019 was the second warmest since 1900. The Arctic amplification phenomena indicates that there will be a greater rate of Arctic 1 Sverdrup, Harald Ulrik. “Explorers: Amundsen, Roald (1872–1928).” Fram Museum. https:// frammuseum.no/polar-history/explorers/roald-amundsen-explorer/.


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temperature increase as compared with the global mean. As ice melts, it permits the warming of the Arctic waters, which in turn enables further ice melt. The potential for rising sea levels and dilution of salinity due to fresh water ice melt will impact coastal communities and fisheries worldwide. Arctic sea ice is becoming younger, thinner, and covers less area—an ongoing trend for the last twelve years. Maximum sea ice extent in 2018 was the second-lowest measured for the last 39 years, second only to 2017. Old ice constituted less than one percent of the 2018 ice pack, marking a decline of more than 95% in the last 33 years.2 Arctic sea ice extent at the end of the summer in 2019 tied 2007 and 2016 as the second lowest recorded since satellite observations commenced in 1979 (National Oceanic and Atmospherics Administration 2019). The loss of older, thicker ice results in a more unpredictable ice pack that is vulnerable to summer melt. Young ice is more apt to melt more quickly—or to break free and disrupt shipping lanes. Recognizing the increased potential for Arctic maritime transit—and the inherent risks of operating in the far north—the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) examined operational challenges and instituted an International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code). The Polar Code covers the design, construction, equipment, operational, training, search and rescue and environmental protection matters relevant to ships operating in the inhospitable conditions found at the two poles. Taking effect on 1 January 2017, the Polar Code seeks to improve the safety and environmental impact of ships operating in the Arctic (and Antarctica) waters. The IMO adopted a slightly more robust definition of the Arctic for the new Polar Code, seeking to include all waters into which ice routinely extends or in which ice floes are commonly present. This definition cites the Arctic as extending as far south as 60° North, limited by a line from Greenland; south of 58° North— north of Iceland, southern shore of Jan Mayen, Bjornoya (International Maritime Organization 2016). This adaption of a more robust definition is largely due to the hostile operating conditions of the waters just south of the Arctic Circle; the IMO determined that safely operating in these regions required the same application of Polar Code guidance as areas to the north of the Circle. The development of the Polar Code was in response to the increased interest in maritime shipping routes in the Arctic. While historical analysis reveals the enduring history of maritime traffic in the region, the diminishing ice coverage may enable a much greater volume of transits. The routes appear tantalizing—as then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin noted at the 2011 Arctic Forum, “the shortest route between Europe’s largest markets and the Asia-Pacific region lie across the Arctic. This route is almost a third shorter than the traditional southern one” (Bryanski 2011). He further emphasized “the importance of the Northern Sea Route as an international transport artery that will rival traditional trade lanes in service fees, security and quality” (Bryanski 2011). Many have seized on the distance to highlight the potential of the Arctic as a shipping corridor—the East Asia to Northern Europe shipping route is approximately 11,200 nautical miles through the Suez Canal, but about 6500 nautical 2 NOAA. Arctic Report Card. Accessed 10 August 2019. https://arctic.noaa.gov/Portals/7/ ArcticReportCard/Documents/ArcticReportCard_full_report2018.pdf.

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miles through the Arctic—this difference can decrease transit time by 12–15 days on the Yokohama to Rotterdam route. Russia is not the only country interested in the shipping potential of the High North. Leading global shipping company China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) Executive Vice President Ding Nong observed in 2016 “as the climate becomes warmer and polar ice melts faster, the Northeast Passage has appeared as a new trunk route connecting Asia and Europe” (Staaleson 2016). China’s 2018 Arctic White Paper notes the potential for a ‘Polar Silk Route’ as part of China’s global Belt and Road Initiative (State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China 2018). Even the United States acknowledged the potential for Arctic shipping, with the 2013 US National Strategy for the Arctic Region noting that “the melting of Arctic ice has the potential to transform global climate and ecosystems as well as global shipping, energy markets, and other commercial interests” (Obama 2013). US Senator Angus King further declared that the Arctic “has the potential to become a significant waterway that links the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans” (King 2016). There is no doubt that the geostrategic location and increasingly navigable seas of the Arctic will be increasingly important for trade, offshore resource extraction, fishing, tourism, and military activity. Yet it must be understood that the Arctic varies greatly within the region that defines it. The Polar Code notes four Arctic shipping routes that will become increasingly viable as ice coverage recedes: the Northern Sea Route, Northwest Passage, Transpolar Route, and Arctic Bridge (American Bureau of Shipping 2016: 5). Predictions indicate that ice-free conditions will soon exist, with the Bering Strait opening for an extended period around 2020, the Northern Sea Route (NSR) around 2025, and the Trans-Polar Route (TPR) around 2030; the Northwest Passage (NWP) will open last, with only limited usage during the summer and fall by 2030 (Chief of Naval Operations 2014: 11–13). The differences in anticipated opening time reflect the nuances of the region, with different currents, wind patterns, and hydrographic characteristics that impact the formation and durability of ice.

Barriers to Shipping The Arctic remains perilous for maritime traffic. The Polar Code notes that operating in the region places additional demands on vessels and crews alike, requiring additional safety measures beyond the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships. Ice coverage has long been the primary impediment to vessels operating in the region, but even as it recedes there are still significant barriers imposed by the harsh conditions and the remote waters. Intense cold, reaching as low as −40 °C in winter, hinders functionality of machinery and poses danger to mariners onboard the vessels. The weather conditions of the Arctic tend to be unpredictable—and worsening as ice diminishes. Severe storms are common and heavy fog often obscures visibility and requires vessels to slow to avoid unexpected ice or traffic. Weather conditions will


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likely become more unpredictable as ice diminishes, particularly due to the albedo and water vapor effects (Wadhams 2016). High sea states often combine with topside icing of vessels, which can reduce vessel stability and equipment functionality while also causing potential hazards to crew. Extreme daylight and darkness conditions may impact navigation and crew performance, problems that can be compounded by lack of crew experience in polar operations. Though ice coverage of the Arctic is diminishing, ice still presents dangers to shipping. Following the Titanic disaster, the US Coast Guard’s International Ice Patrol (IIP) was created to track icebergs in the North Atlantic. In 2017, the annual IIP report warned of an unusual number of icebergs drifting into shipping lanes— more than 1,000 icebergs had drifted into North Atlantic shipping lanes, marking the fourth consecutive season where the danger has been classified as “extreme.” Yet the following year, in the 104th annual report since the IIP was founded, the iceberg conditions were classified as “light,” with only 208 icebergs being noted. On average, however, there have been increased numbers of icebergs present in the North Atlantic as the ice pack breaks up, setting icebergs adrift and also as glacial ice continues to advance more rapidly toward the sea (US Coast Guard 2018: 2). The lack of infrastructure in the region further compounds transits. Deep-water ports are sparse, resulting in few options for resupplying or refueling vessels. There is a lack of complete and accurate hydrographic data, with a further lack of navigational aides such as channel markers. Ice presence makes installing navigational aids challenging and often futile. Infrastructure is generally under-developed, with few ports or readily deployable emergency response assets. The Arctic Council recognized the potentially disastrous consequences of underdeveloped search and rescue (SAR) coverage in the region with the 2011 Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic (Arctic Council 2011). Signed by all eight Arctic states, the treaty delineates SAR response responsibilities and coordinates international response. Assets and emergency response units are being improved, but pose serious challenges to current operations in the region. The vast distances, harsh weather, and limited response capabilities make potential SAR operations difficult at best. Increased traffic is driving concerns of a catastrophic incident at sea. While improvements are being made, the region generally has poor communications and satellite coverage due to the high latitude and remoteness. Vessels must contend with communications impeded by atmospheric phenomena, latitude challenges, and ionospheric effects. While improving connectivity was a priority of the Finnish Arctic Council Chairmanship (2017–2019), significant investments are needed to fund the necessary infrastructure.3 The challenges of operating in the region—and a dearth of emergency response capabilities—have resulted in higher risk evaluations by insurance companies. 3 Ministry

of Foreign Affairs of Finland. “Exploring Common Solutions: Finland’s Chairmanship Program for the Arctic Council in 2017–2019.” P. 7. https://um.fi/documents/35732/0/Finland% 27s%20Chairmanship%20Program%20for%20the%20Arctic%20Council%20%281%29.pdf/ b13cda82-7b03-df0a-f86b-1d3e06b8041f?t=1533205711183.

The Potential of Polar Routes: The Opening of a New Ocean


Shipowners pay greatly increased insurance costs that reflect the significant risks associated with operating in the High North. In addition to insurance fees, there are additional costs imposed on Arctic transits that are generally unique to the region— icebreaking fees. Extra costs are imposed by the Russian icebreaker escorts that are often required for commercial vessels transiting the ice-covered passages of the Northern Sea Route. These fees are generally calculated by tonnage of the vessel transiting and distance the icebreaker escort is required. Fees to transit the Northern Sea Route typically rival that of a Suez Canal transit (Furuichi and Otsuka 2013: 7; Zhang et al. 2016). The impact of the harsh environment, underdeveloped infrastructure, and uncertainties of transit have affected destination and transit shipping differently. Destination shipping, the movement of raw commodities from extraction point to markets, will rise in the region as natural resources are discovered and exploited. Russian Arctic development is gaining momentum, producing nearly 400,000 barrels a day of exports by late 2017 (Lee 2017). The largest Arctic hydrocarbon discovery is the Shtokman field in the Barents Sea, which is estimated to have about 3.9 trillion cubic meters (Lee 2017). The Chinese Nanhai-8, owned by Chinese Oilfield Service Limited (COSL) made an April 2018 discovery that may rank the Leningradskoye field as one of Russia’s largest natural gas fields, with estimates of 1.9 trillion cubic meters of gas. There are currently three oil export terminals that are active along Russia’s Arctic coast: Lukoil PJSC’s Varandey terminal, which opened in 2008 and handles about 150,000 barrels a day from nearby fields; Gazprom Neft with two major terminals: Prirazlomnoye field, which produces 80,000 barrels a day with a target of 130,000; and the Arctic Gate terminal, which exports about 150,000 barrels a day. Cargo is generally shipped via shuttle tanker to Murmansk, where it is loaded onto larger vessels bound for Europe (Lee 2017). Activity will be particularly high from the Russian Yamal and Gydan Peninsulas. Abundant oil and gas deposits have led to Gazprom Neft and Novatek, in partnership with Total SA, developing the Bovanenkovo, Yamal LNG, and Arctic LNG projects. The $27 billion Yamal LNG project is a joint venture, with an ownership structure of 50.1% by Novatek, 20% by Total, 20% by China National Petroleum Company, and 9.9% by the Chinese Silk Road Fund.4 Operations officially began in December 2018 and the Project predicts an annual production of up to 360 billion cubic meters of gas. The Yamal 2 LNG project, a joint venture for development on the Gydan Peninsula with Total (10%), Novatek (60%), CNOOC (10%), CNPC (10%) and Japan Arctic LNG (10%), is expected to have a production capacity of 19.8 million tons per year with exports commencing by 2023 (Total 2019). Production from these projects is delivered to international markets by a specially designed class of ice-breaking LNG carriers, a cooperative development process between Aker Arctic Technology, Yamal LNG, and Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME). The new class has received the highest Russian Maritime Register of Shipping (RMRS) class 4 Gazprom.

“Yamal Megaproject.” http://www.gazprom.com/about/production/projects/megayamal/. Total. “Yamal LNG: The Gas that came in from the cold.” https://www.total.com/en/energyexpertise/projects/oil-gas/lng/yamal-lng-cold-environment-gas.


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rating for marine transport vessels operating in polar waters, an Arc 7. This rating is equivalent to the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) Polar Class 3 rating. With 15 vessels planned for the Christophe de Margerie class, the ships will transit the Northern Sea Route towards transshipment terminals in Kamchatka or Murmansk en route to European or Asian markets, depending on the time of year. The class has a cargo capacity of 172,600 cubic meters; the ships can achieve up to 19.5 knots in open water (Aker Arctic 2017). The vessels are specially designed for independent navigation through the Northern Sea Route during parts of summer and autumn, and potentially year-round navigation in the Kara Sea. However, the design features that makes them efficient in the Arctic are not well-suited to operate in more temperate waters. While destination shipping will see heightened activity—though numbers will still remain very low in comparison to overall global activity—transit shipping will be much slower to come to the Arctic. For the container shipping of goods, shipping companies rely on economies of scale and on-time delivery within a tight schedule; ever-increasing capacities of ships help to lower costs. Operating in the region can be vastly more expensive due to decreased transit speeds and the potential for significant weather delays. The region has notoriously unpredictable weather and ice conditions which hinder the feasibility of shipping employing the common ‘just in time’ model, which relies on precise schedules to maximize efficiencies and optimize profits. Fog and poor weather can delay ships for days, negatively impacting future schedules. The commercial sector has thus far demonstrated lukewarm interest in the possibility of transit shipping despite the significantly shorter route (Carmel 2013). After the Venta Maersk’s trial transit in September 2018, Maersk noted it was a one-off trial voyage. While the Chinese ‘Polar Silk Route’ will take years to materialize, Chinese shipping company COSCO has already experimented with sending ships along the route. The second Chinese icebreaker is indigenously built and their 2018 Arctic White paper makes clear that China will have a presence in the region befitting their self-titled ‘near Arctic state’ status. China’s COSCO announced plans to conduct fourteen transits along the Northern Sea Route during the 2019 transit season, though the company only filed eleven transit applications. Still, this represents an increase from the eight transits made by COSCO vessels during the 2018 season (NSR Transit Statistics 2019). The draft in many parts of the Arctic is a significant limiting factor for commercial traffic, as the largest and most economical vessels simply cannot transit the region regardless of time or weather factors. The navigable drafts along both the Northern Sea Route and the Northwest Passage vary greatly, limiting the size of vessel that can transit. Of the seven routes of the NWP, three are considered generally unsuitable for navigation while the remainders are considered difficult to navigate due to the pattern of ice drift. The Transpolar Route will permit an unlimited draft, though it will be years before the route opens (Eger 2010). To operate on the NSR or NWP, cargo ships must adhere to draft limitations, generally thought to be around 3,000 Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit (TEU) or below, resulting in a higher cost per TEU as compared with a Suez Canal transit, where ships routinely carry more than 18,000 TEUs.

The Potential of Polar Routes: The Opening of a New Ocean


Given these significant constraints, it is unlikely that the Arctic will become a viable alternative for transit shipping of global trade any time in the near future. At this year’s Arctic Forum, Putin observed “The task is to make the Northern Sea Route safe and economically viable for shippers, attractive both in terms of quality and price.” Russia has subsequently announced plans to achieve this goal, proposing subsidies to offset increased costs. Putin has long focused on the economic importance of the region to Russia—and with good reason. The country holds about half of both the Arctic coastline and Arctic population, with the Russian Arctic Zone yielding about 10% of Russia’s GDP and accounts for 20% of its exports (Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations 2018). The Northern Sea Route has become an important route for Russia, with traffic numbers gradually rising. During the 2018 season, 808 permissions to vessels for navigation along the NSR were issued by the Northern Sea Route Administration, though the vast majority were Russian flagged vessels. Although President Vladimir Putin announced a goal of 80 million tons of shipments along the NSR by 2024, the reality will likely be far less—and driven largely by natural resources. Maritime vessels (not to include transit vessels) transported 9.74 million tons of various freights in 2017 and about 20 million tons in 2018, mostly between ports along the Northern Sea route.5 Despite the optimism from Putin, maritime traffic in the Arctic will not soon rival the Suez Canal. In 2018, only 26 vessels and 491,000 tons of cargo transited the NSR, compared to 18,174 vessels and 1.14 billion tons of cargo that transited the Suez Canal (Humpert 2019). There are an estimated 60,000 merchant vessels comprising the global fleet; the number of vessels operating in the Arctic will remain a tiny fraction of this due to rigid Polar Code certification requirements and economic considerations. The challenging operating conditions, risks, and greater costs will preclude most traffic from opting for a northern route. Yet there will be some additional traffic in the region due to increased intra-NSR trade and the movement of extracted natural resources to market. Geopolitical trends may also drive traffic—China has opening expressed interest in the Arctic routes to provide an alternative to vessels transiting southern routes which could easily be blocked in a time of hostilities.

Militarization of the Arctic? Though the adage “High North, Low Tension” has long been applied to the Arctic, the evolving geostrategic environment has sparked concerns for militarization. Russia has implemented a robust Arctic policy that includes reopening numerous Soviet era bases, as well as moving newer, more capable military assets to the region. New bases and airfields are also being developed to host Russian forces comprising the Arctic Command established in 2014. Both NATO and Russia have increased the size and complexity of exercises in the region, raising concerns for an Arctic security dilemma. 5 Northern

Sea Route Administration.


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There is no doubt that Arctic stakeholders are improving their Arctic capabilities as the region becomes more accessible. Russia is pursuing the construction of new icebreakers—to include a new combat icebreaker armed with Kalibr missiles—and maintains approximately 40 icebreakers, seven of which are nuclear. Although the Russian icebreaker fleet dramatically dwarfs other icebreaker fleets, the country is unique in that it requires a robust icebreaker capability to escort vessels along the Northern Sea Route (NSR). Arctic economic interests and limited basing options have made Russia’s Northern Fleet its largest, with reportedly forty-one submarines and thirty-seven surface ships.6 The Arctic is prevalent in strategy documents as well, such as the 2015 Maritime Doctrine of the Russian Federation which devotes an entire chapter to “The Arctic Regional Priority Zone” (Russian Federation 2015). NATO has responded to Russia’s heightened activity in the Arctic by increasing its presence in the High North, paying particular attention to improving operational capabilities in the challenging region. The NATO Atlantic Command was reestablished and Exercise Trident Juncture 2018 included more than 50,000 personnel, 275 aircraft, and 65 ships from all NATO Allies as well as Sweden and Finland, in the largest Arctic exercise since the end of the Cold War. The exercise included the United States’ USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group, marking the first time since 1992 that a US Carrier Strike Group operated north of the Arctic Circle. Trident Juncture proved to be an opportunity to improve interoperability and cold weather skills as well as to communicate a credible deterrence in the High North. Russia responded by monitoring the exercise with warships—to include overflight of warships—and by sending notice of missile exercises off the Norwegian coast. Despite the rhetoric, both NATO and Russian forces were professional in their interactions (Wijnen 2018). While the potential for a security dilemma certainly exists, claims of militarization are often made without an understanding of the significant military presence that has long characterized the Arctic. The region has been contested for centuries, though ice coverage generally prevented significant military operations from occurring in the maritime domain (excluding undersea operations). While there is a resumption of Arctic military activity, it is critical to recognize that the magnitude of activity remains below historic Cold War levels and accounts for a very small percentage of overall global activity. Thus far, stakeholders have exhibited a general adherence to international law, while venues for dialogue can offer an alternative to an Arctic Security Dilemma. Military activity in the region is increasing, with stakeholders often citing the other’s military action as justification for additional forces in the region. There remains a concern for an Arctic security dilemma in the High North, but thus far the military activities have been at significantly lower levels than during the Cold War. However, there are differences in the type of military activity that will be viable

6 “Arctic stronghold: Might of Russia’s Northern Fleet shown in anniversary video.” RT.com, https://


The Potential of Polar Routes: The Opening of a New Ocean


in the Arctic in the future. While the Cold War brought submarines and early warning monitoring systems to the High North, the warming trends will enable greater surface activity.

What Will the Future Hold? The Arctic strategic environment is evolving as the region experiences warming and global stakeholders are attracted to the increasingly accessible natural resources. Maritime activity will be driven by a combination of economic and military trends. Increasing geopolitical attention to the Arctic will likely bring greater military activity to protect perceived national interests of key stakeholders. Those interests include both natural resources—the tremendous reserves of oil and gas, as well as minerals— and opening maritime trade routes. While transit shipping numbers will remain low for the foreseeable future due to the complexities of operating in the region, there will be an increase in commercial shipping activity in support of resource extraction. The majority of this activity will occur in Russian waters as a result of the country’s robust approach to Arctic development. Other maritime traffic will also rise as the ice recedes. Recreational traffic—cruise ships, sailing yachts and private motor boats—will continue to seek to take advantage of the newly accessible region to engage in ‘last chance’ tourism. International fishing fleets are following migrating species northward, a phenomenon likely to continue as global warming drives fish towards cooler waters. Although a moratorium was enacted on fishing in the Central Arctic Ocean for more than a decade, warming waters are likely to bring illicit activities. While it will be critical to develop greater maritime domain awareness in the region to monitor and prevent illicit activities, the overall traffic numbers will still be a small fraction of global activity. Arctic trends—particularly economic and geopolitical trends driven by regional warming—will bring greater maritime activity to the region. Yet this activity will be more suited to local demands than universal throughout the Arctic. Resource extraction will require transport to markets and specialized vessels will continue to provide this. But the northern waters will not become a heavily utilized global shipping route in the near future. Further geopolitical tensions and subsequent militarization could also hinder commercial activity in the region. The costs of operating in the Arctic are high; misperceptions and misunderstandings in the region have the potential to spark conflict.

References Aker Arctic. (2017). Yamalmax Arctic LNG carriers. akerarctic.fi/en/references/built/yamalmaxarctic-lng-carriers.


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American Bureau of Shipping. (2016, January). IMO polar code advisory. https://ww2.eagle.org/ content/dam/eagle/publications/2016/PolarCodeAdvisory_15239.pdf. Amundsen, R. (1908). The north-west passage: Being the record of a voyage of exploration of the ship “Gjöa”. New York: E.P. Dutton and Co. Arctic Council. (2009). Arctic marine shipping assessment 2009 report. Arctic Council. (2011). Agreement on cooperation on aeronautical and maritime search and rescue in the Arctic (signed 2011). http://www.arctic-council.org/index.php/en/our-work/agreements. Bryanski, G. (2011, September 22). Russia’s Putin says Arctic trade route to rival Suez. Reuters. Accessed June 15, 2019. http://ca.reuters.com/article/topNews/idCATRE78L5TC20110922? pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0. Carmel, S. (2013). The cold, hard realities of Arctic shipping. Proceedings Magazine, 139(7), 1–325. Chief of Naval Operations. (2014, February). US Navy Arctic roadmap: 2014–2030 (pp. 11– 13). Navy Task Force Climate Change. http://www.navy.mil/navydata/documents/USN_artic_ roadmap.pdf. Eger, K. M. (2010). Comparison of operational conditions along the Arctic routes. Centre for High North Logistics. http://www.arctis-search.com/Comparison+of+Operational+Conditions+ along+the+Arctic+Routes. Furuichi, M., & Otsuka, N. (2013). Cost analysis of the Northern Sea Route (NSR) and the conventional route shipping. Hacquebord, L. (1984). The history of early Dutch waling: A study from the ecological angle. In H. K. S. Jacob & K. Snoeijing (Eds.), Arctic Whaling: Proceedings of the International Symposium Arctic Whaling, February 1983. Humpert, M. (2019, February 19). Russia’s Northern Sea Route sees record cargo volume in 2018. High North News. https://www.highnorthnews.com/en/russias-northern-sea-route-sees-recordcargo-volume-2018. International Maritime Organization. (2016). Polar code. Accessed June 2, 2019. https://pame.is/ index.php/projects/arctic-marine-shipping/the-polar-code. King, A., Senator (Maine). (2016, September 14). Senator King on the Ice in Greenland—OpEd. Fiddlehead Focus. https://fiddleheadfocus.com/2016/09/14/opinion/op-ed-senator-king-on-theice-in-greenland/. Kostianoy, A., Nihoul, J. C. J., & Rodionov, V. (2004). Physical oceanography of the frontal zones in sub-Arctic seas. Elsevier. Lee, J. (2017, December 10). The Arctic threat to the price of oil. Bloomberg. https://www. bloomberg.com/gadfly/articles/2017-12-10/the-arctic-threat-to-oil-s-grand-bargain. Moosmuller, O. (1911). Erik the red, Leif the lucky and other pre-Columbian discoverers of America (G. P. Upton, Trans.). Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co. National Oceanic and Atmospherics Administration. (2019, December). Arctic report card. Nevel, D. E., & Weeks, W. F. (1970). The voyage of the S.S. ‘Manhattan’. The Military Engineer, 62(406), 80–82. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/44552504. NOAA. Arctic Report Card. Accessed 10 January 2020. https://arctic.noaa.gov/Report-Card/ Report-Card-2019. NSR Transit Statistics. (2019, September 2). https://arctic-lio.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/ Transits_2018.pdf. Obama, B. (2013, May). National strategy for the Arctic region. https://obamawhitehouse.archives. gov/sites/default/files/docs/nat_arctic_strategy.pdf. Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations. (2018, July 17). Statement by Mr. Sergey Kononuchenko, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, at the event “The 2030 agenda and the Arctic: Towards a sustainable and resilient Arctic through cooperation”. http://russiaun.ru/en/news/hlpfarctic_sbk. Ray, T. W. (1965, June). A history of the DEW line: 1946–1964 (ABC Historical Study No. 31). https://www.northcom.mil/Portals/28/Paper%20No%2031%20A%20History%20of%20the% 20Dew%20Line,%201946-1964%20Full%20Release.pdf?ver=2017-03-16-115749-817.

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Russian Federation. (2015, December 20). Russian national security strategy. http://www.ieee. es/Galerias/fichero/OtrasPublicaciones/Internacional/2016/Russian-National-Security-Strategy31Dec2015.pdf. Sarty, R. (2015, March 4). St. Roch. In The Canadian encyclopedia. Historica Canada. https://www. thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/st-roch. Smolka, H. P. (1938, January). Soviet strategy in the Arctic. Foreign Affairs. Accessed August 6, 2019. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/russian-federation/1938-01-01/soviet-strategyarctic. Staaleson, A. (2016, October 11). COSCO will send 5 ships on Northern Sea Route in 2016. The Independent Barents Observer. Accessed April 12, 2018. https://www.arcticnow.com/business/ shipping/2016/10/11/cosco-will-send-5-ships-on-northern-sea-route-in-2016/. State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China. (2018, January). China’s Arctic policy. http://english.www.gov.cn/archive/white_paper/2018/01/26/content_281476026660336. htm. Tadeusz, P. (2016). A brief history of navigation on the Northern Sea Route. In The Northern Sea Route as a shipping lane (pp. 27–38). Cham: Springer. Total. (2019, September 5). Russia: Launch of the giant Arctic LNG2 development. https://www. total.com/en/media/news/press-releases/russia-launch-giant-arctic-lng-2-development. US Coast Guard. (2018). Report of the international ice patrol in the North Atlantic. Bulletin No. 104. CG-188-73. https://www.navcen.uscg.gov/pdf/iip/2018_Annual_Report_FINAL.pdf. US Geological Survey. (2008). Circum-Arctic resource appraisal: Estimates of undiscovered oil and gas north of the Arctic Circle. USGS Fact Sheet 2008:3049. https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2008/ 3049/fs2008-3049.pdf. Vaughan, R. (1984). Historical survey of the European whaling industry. In H. K. S. Jacob & K. Snoeijing (Eds.), Arctic Whaling: Proceedings of the International Symposium Arctic Whaling, February 1983. Wadhams, P. (2016, September 26). The global impacts of rapidly disappearing sea ice. Yale Environment 360. bit.ly/2zueyl0. Williams, G. (2010). Arctic labyrinth: The quest for the northwest passage. University of California Press. Wijnen, P. (2018, October 29). NATO warned about Russian missile test. Norway Today. https:// norwaytoday.info/news/nato-warned-russian-missile-test/. Zhang, Y., Meng, Q., & Ng, S. H. (2016). Shipping efficiency comparison between the Northern Sea Route and the conventional Europe shipping route via Suez Canal. Journal of Transport Geography, 57. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2016.09.008.

Rachael Gosnell is pursuing doctoral studies in International Security and Economic Policy at the University of Maryland, with a focus on maritime security in the Arctic. An active duty naval officer commissioned in 2001, she holds a MA in International Security Studies from Georgetown University, a Masters in Engineering Management from Old Dominion University, and a Bachelors of Science in Political Science from the US Naval Academy.

Arctic Economies Between Geopolitical Tensions and Provision of Livelihoods: Insights from the ECONOR Approach Solveig Glomsrød, Birger Poppel, Lars Lindholt, Gérard Duhaime, Sébastien Lévesque, Davin Holen, and Iulie Aslaksen

Introduction This chapter presents results from the most recent ECONOR report, The Economy of the North 2015 (Glomsrød et al. 2017) as an economic background for studies of geopolitical challenges of the Arctic. The ECONOR reports give an overview of the circumpolar Arctic economy, the Arctic regional economies, the importance of natural resources, socio-economic indicators, and compare gross domestic product and disposable income of households, as well as social indicators, to give a comprehensive picture of the economy and livelihoods for the population, the indigenous peoples and other residents whose home is the Arctic. The ECONOR reports (Glomsrød et al. 2017; Glomsrød and Aslaksen 2006, 2009) give a background for understanding how the natural resource wealth of the Arctic, the impacts of climate change and the global economy, and differences in policy and institutions shape the Arctic economy and socio-economic outcomes and the conditions for sustainability. The Arctic has vast reserves of petroleum and minerals. For many Arctic regions, employment and revenues from petroleum and mineral extraction may be the pillar of the economy, and at the same time, the ecosystems of S. Glomsrød CICERO Center for International Climate Research, Oslo, Norway B. Poppel Institute of Learning, Ilisimatusarfik, University of Greenland, Nuuk, Greenland L. Lindholt · I. Aslaksen (B) Statistics Norway, P.O. Box 2633, St. Hanshaugen, 0131 Oslo, Norway e-mail: [email protected] G. Duhaime · S. Lévesque Université Laval, Quebec, Canada D. Holen Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, USA © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 J. Weber (ed.), Handbook on Geopolitics and Security in the Arctic, Frontiers in International Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-45005-2_13



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the Arctic, with rich wildlife, fish stocks, and grazing land for reindeer and caribou, provide substantial nutritional and cultural values to the Arctic communities. Fishing, hunting and herding for sales and for own consumption and sharing is a major source of livelihood for many indigenous peoples and other Arctic residents. The nature-based subsistence activities may at first glance seem to be decoupled from the shifting cycles of the global economy, but even this local production is exposed to change, as availability of cash income from wage income and sales is important for being able to purchase hunting equipment and means of transportation. Subsistence activities and the cash economy are mutually dependent on each other for providing consumption possibilities in the Arctic today, and harvesting is at the same time part of a lifestyle that represents continuity, sharing and connection to nature. The ECONOR reports provide an overview of the economic situation in the regions of the Arctic, as a result of demand for natural resources, capital flows, infrastructure investments for transportation and communication facilities, on a transnational circumpolar scale, to give a background for enhanced understanding of the economic driving forces and actors, the scope of their activities and the new directions of business development. The ECONOR reports also presents social indicators, giving crucial information on livelihoods and living conditions, which the gross regional product (GRP) (i.e. gross domestic product (GDP) down-scaled from national to regional level) and disposable income of households (DIH) per capita for Arctic regions cannot convey. Looking at GRP only would not give a complete picture of the basis for livelihoods, because in many Arctic regions a substantial share of GRP is from petroleum and mining activities largely owned and taxed from outside the Arctic regions. Data on social indicators, and knowledge on the nature-based subsistence activities by indigenous peoples and other Arctic people, are needed to portray the socio-economic conditions of the Arctic population.

The Arctic as a “Hotspot” for Natural Resource Extraction and Global Warming The Arctic is increasingly seen as a “hotspot” in terms of global demand for natural resources, with large impacts on the environment and local communities from petroleum and mining activities. Natural resources create expectations of economic opportunities, yet the prospect of economic development creates concerns about short-term and long-term environmental effects and consequences for the livelihoods of local communities. The potential for a sustainable and diversified economic development in the Arctic may be challenged by an increased global demand for minerals and petroleum. At the same time, rapid climate change impacts take place in the Arctic. The combined effects of these trends have large impacts on the nature-based livelihoods in the Arctic, traditionally based on subsistence hunting, fishing, reindeer herding, and gathering (Nuttall et al. 2005).

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A picture has emerged of the Arctic as the last “resource frontier” (Nuttall 2010). Increased global demand for oil, gas and mineral resources has contributed to the notion of the Arctic as a “hotspot”, not least because increased resource extraction represents a potential risk to the natural environment. Also the “hotspot” definition relates to the Arctic, as impacts of climate change are most prominent in the circumpolar North. In 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that: “The Arctic has been warming since the 1980s at approximately twice the global rate” (IPCC 2013). It is well documented that global warming substantiates the notion of the Arctic as a ‘hotspot’, with impacts such as decreasing Arctic sea ice extent and thickness, retreat of glaciers, thawing of permafrost, coastal erosion, and cascading effects on peoples’ living conditions (Hovelsrud et al. 2011). In addition to climate change, rapid economic, social, and cultural changes imply increased risks for the sustainability of Arctic ecosystems and social systems, and the combined effect of these changes contributes to create what we understand as hotspots of the Arctic. Several reports have documented different aspects of impacts for socio-economic developments, including Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA 2005), Arctic Human Development Reports (AHDR 2004; Larsen and Fondahl 2014), ECONOR reports, Survey of Living Conditions in the Arctic (SLiCA) (Poppel et al. 2007; Poppel 2015), Snow, water, ice and permafrost in the Arctic (SWIPA) report (AMAP 2011), Megatrends report (Rasmussen 2011), and Arctic Resilience Assessment (Arctic Council 2013). In 2010 and 2015 the Gordon Foundation conducted two Arctic Public Opinion Surveys in the Arctic States, focusing on Arctic security and other issues facing the Arctic, including climate change (Gordon Foundation 2015). Respondents were asked what they perceived as ‘the greatest threat facing the Arctic today’. In all Arctic states ‘Global warming, climate change’ ranked highest. In the view of North American respondents, the number two threat was ‘Environmental damage/degradation’. ‘Ice caps melting, melting of sea ice/permafrost’ ranked second in the other Arctic states (Gordon Foundation 2015: 27–28, note 12). In the Survey of Living Conditions in the Arctic (SLiCA) conducted among Inuit, Sámi and the indigenous peoples of Chukotka and the Kola Peninsula, three out of four indigenous residents perceived ‘climate change’ to be a problem in their community (Poppel et al. 2007). The geographically focused Survey of Living Conditions in the Arctic (SLiCA) explored the issue of the Arctic as a hotspot in a study of impacts of a ruby mine project in Qeqertarsuatsiaat in Greenland where fisheries are the main income source (Poppel 2015). Despite low work-force participation, a large majority saw collective gains from the mine, from local employment and better national economy. Another survey explored impacts of potential rare earth elements/uranium mining in Kuannersuit, near Narsaq in South Greenland (Siegstad and Fægteborg 2016). The Kuannersuit proposal led to controversies in the Greenlandic population because uranium will be extracted as by-product from mining rare earth elements. The area has large potential for sheep farming, other agriculture, and tourism. The survey found concerns about pollution and damage to agriculture, in particular sheep farming, and tourism. The closer people live to the proposed mine, the more concerned they are, especially those involved in sheep farming and food production. Many earn part of their income from


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tourism and were concerned that tourists will choose other destinations if there is ‘uranium mining’ near Narsaq.

Arctic Economies at Macro Level In a global perspective the Arctic is at the same time large and small. According to the ECONOR definition of the Arctic (see Box 1), only about 10 million people live on 8% of the global land area; the Arctic is a vast land area of wilderness, hunting and herding grounds, valuable mineral resources, and surrounded by a living ocean between surface sea routes and seabed minerals. Russia’s Arctic area covers slightly more than half of the total Arctic land area. The Russian Arctic gross regional product (GRP) amounts to 70% of the total Arctic economy, and the Russian population share of the Arctic is similarly high. Canada has the second largest share (29%) of the Arctic land area, but low population density and economic activity. Variations in regional endowments of natural resources lead to considerable variation in gross regional product across the Arctic. However, transfers within Arctic states tend to modify the gaps in disposable income per capita between Arctic and non-Arctic regions. Box 1. Defining the Arctic region and the size of the Arctic population According to the Arctic Human Development Report (AHDR 2004) the population of the Arctic is about 4 million, in contrast to about 10 million according to the ECONOR definition (Glomsrød et al. 2017). AHDR (2004) takes as its point of departure the definition of the Arctic from the Arctic Monitoring and assessment Programme (AMAP 2002), however, due to location of administrative boundaries and availability of data, the area covered in AHDR (2004) and in AMAP (2002) differs in some respects: Thus, the AHDR Arctic encompasses all of Alaska, Canada North of 60° together with northern Quebec and Labrador, all of Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland, and the northernmost counties of Norway, Sweden and Finland. The situation in Russia is harder to describe in simple terms. The area included, as demarcated by our demographers, encompasses the Murmansk Oblast, the Nenets, Yamal-Nenets, Taimyr and Chukotka autonomous okrugs, Vorkuta City in the Komi Republic, Norilsk and Igsrka in Krasnoyarsky Kray, and those parts of the Sakha Republic whose boundaries lie closest to the Arctic Circle. This, then is the AHDR Arctic. It encompasses an area of over 40 million square kilometers or about 8% of the surface of the Earth, a sizeable domain by any standards (AMAP 2002; Armstrong et al. 1978). But the human residents of this vast area number only about 4 million, of whom almost half are located within the Russian federation (AMAP 2002). (AHDR 2004: 17–18)

In contrast, the ECONOR definition of the Arctic covers: Northern Russia with the Republics of Karelia and Komi, the Murmansk and Arkhangelsk

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Oblasts, the Yamal-Nenets and Khanty-Mansii Autonomous Okrugs, the Taimyr and Evenkia former Autonomous Okrugs, the Republic of Sakha, the Magadan Oblast, and the Chukotka (Chukchi) and Koryak Autonomous Okrugs. The American Arctic includes Alaska and the Northern territories of Canada (Northwest Territories, Yukon, Nunavut). The European Arctic consists of Greenland, Faroe Islands, Iceland and Arctic Norway (including the Svalbard Archipelago and Jan Mayen), Arctic Sweden and Arctic Finland. Following changes in the Russian Federation legislation, the statistical definitions of Arctic Russia have been changed. “The Economy of the North 2015” presents data for regions previously defined as Arctic Russia, in order to retain time series. In the new definition, Karelia, Khanty-Mansii and Magadan are no longer included in the Arctic Zone, while Nenets and several regions of Krasnoyarsky Krai are included. Previously included regions—Evenk autonomous okrug and Taimyr autonomous okrug—have become parts of Krasnoyarsky Krai and Nenets autonomous okrug (Glomsrød et al. 2017: 7). The main reason for the large difference in the population figures between the Arctic Human Development Report and The Economy of the North (ECONOR) is that due to the economic focus of ECONOR, its delineation of the Arctic includes Khanty-Mansii which is the largest Russian oil producing region, adjacent to oil and gas producing Yamal-Nenets, and moreover, due to availability of statistical data, all of the Republic of Sakha-Yakutia is included. Figure 1 compares gross regional product (GRP) per capita and disposable income of households (DIH) per capita at regional level for administrative regions of the Arctic. Data for the Arctic regions are based on national statistics and converted from local currencies to US dollars (base year 2010) measured in purchasing power parities (PPP), in order to adjust for differences in purchasing power across the Arctic regions. Figure 1 shows that Alaska has the highest disposable income of household (DIH) per capita followed by Yamal-Nenets, Chukotka, Yukon and the Northwest Territories. Arctic Finland, Sweden and Norway have about the same level of DIH per capita. Arctic Russia, Alaska and Northern Canada are the main producers of petroleum and other minerals. These regions have the highest GRP per capita among the Arctic regions. Disposable income of households per capita is considerably lower than GRP per capita in these regions. Figure 1 illustrates to what extent the values from natural resources are taken out of the Arctic regions.


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Fig. 1 Gross regional product (GRP) per capita and disposable income of households (DIH) per capita, by Arctic regions. (The statistical definitions of Arctic Russia have changed, see Box 1.) 2012. 1000 USD-PPP. Source Fig. 3.10 in The Economy of the North 2015. Mäenpää et al. (2017). Reprinted with permission from The Economy of the North Statistics Norway

Regional Arctic Economies Most of the economies of Arctic regions are based on raw material export and vulnerable to changes in demand for their export. World market conditions have had large impacts during and after the financial crisis. The ECONOR reports have documented trends in the Arctic economy from 2002 to 2012. For each Arctic region the ECONOR report presents gross regional product (GRP, or GDP for nations) and the value added, i.e. contribution to GRP by industry, in order to make the main economic activities of each Arctic region visible.

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Alaska The backbone of the Alaska economy is petroleum and mineral extraction. Alaska’s share of proven US oil and gas reserves is around 7 and 2%, respectively (BP 2016), however, according to US Geological Survey (USGS) Alaska has huge amounts of undiscovered petroleum resources (USGS 2008, 2012), corresponding to about 30% of US undiscovered resources. The giant oil field of Prudhoe Bay on the North Slope is in the decline phase. Exploration drilling offshore in the Chukchi Sea northwest of Alaska has met resistance from environmental organizations due to the risk of environmental hazards in vulnerable areas, with limited capacity to deal with pollution, for instance oil spills under the ice. Petroleum and other mining contributed to about 24% of GRP in 2012. The Alaska seafood industry consists of harvesting and processing of numerous species of seafood, primarily salmon, halibut, shellfish, and groundfish. Public administration and defence contributed to about 21% of GRP in 2012. Tourism plays an important role in the economy. Alaska had the highest disposable income of households (DIH) per capita among Arctic regions in 2012, and DIH and GRP are higher than the average for non-Arctic states of the USA. Figure 2 illustrates the composition of the regional economy of Alaska for primary, secondary and tertiary sectors. The pattern illustrated here for Alaska, with a large share of public and private services, is also similar for the Canadian North. The Canadian North For Arctic Canada, particularly the Northwest Territories, the mining industry is the backbone of commercial activity, accounting for 17% of GRP in 2012. Petroleum has declined and amounted to about 4% of GRP in 2012. Diamonds are a major contribution to the economy of the Canadian North. As much as 80% of diamond production and 95% of the values of diamonds mined in Canada

Fig. 2 Value added by main industry. Alaska. Per cent of GRP 2008 and 2012. Source Fig. 4.4 in The Economy of the North 2015. Mäenpää et al. (2017). Reprinted with permission from The Economy of the North Statistics Norway


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in 2014 are produced in the Northwest Territories and made Canada the world’s third largest producer in value terms and fifth largest producer in volume. Foreign investors generally consider Canada more attractive from a geopolitical and investment risk perspective compared to many other diamond producing countries. Yet many factors contribute to high costs for diamond mining, including harsh climate, transportation on ice roads, and environmental commitments. Gold production in Canada’s north rose by a factor of 10 from 2008 to 2014. Nunavut is the largest gold producer among the three Northern Territories. In 2012, public administration was the largest sector in the economy of the Northern Territories, and public administration and defence contributed to 19% of GRP in Arctic Canada. Faroe Islands The livelihood has throughout history been based on the ocean and the marine resources, and Faroe Islands has built up business and expertise within fisheries, aquaculture and marine engineering. The seafood industries generated 21% of GDP in 2012. Primary industries mainly based on extraction of fish resources increased their share in the total economy, particularly supported by the substantial growth within aquaculture. Fisheries are the backbone of the economy, as much as 80% of the export value is from fish products. Blue Whiting, mainly used for fish meal, was the dominating catch in 2008 in terms of volume. The catch of mackerel was negligible until 2010 when it increased to nearly 100,000 tons per year. The export value of farmed salmon increased by 200% from 2008 to 2012. Arctic Finland Arctic Finland differs from most other Arctic regions in that manufacturing industry is highly developed and integrated in the global economy. A characteristic of the manufacturing industry of Arctic Finland is the large presence of electronic industry and other high-tech activities. Manufacturing industry lost 40% of its value added from 2008 to 2012, down to about 17% of GRP, including a decline in electronics industry and production of basic metals and metal products. The loss in manufacturing due to the coincidence of an industry failure and the global economic downturn was large enough to leave a footprint on most of the economic activity in the region. The value added of the mining industry more than doubled during the period, benefitting from the high mineral prices. It is frequently said about Arctic regions that the dependency on natural resources might be a de-stabilizing factor. However, the development in Northern Finland during this period illustrates that having a large manufacturing industry can be as vulnerable to market forces as the petroleum-based regions. The lack of diversity is the challenge for small communities. Greenland The ice-free area of Greenland is about the size of Sweden. Climate change is twice as rapid in the Arctic as in the rest of the world and contributes to extended growth season and enhanced agriculture. Seafood and in particular coldwater shrimps and Greenland halibut are the main export products. After 2011 the catch of deep-sea prawns has declined. However, climate change with increasing sea temperature has introduced the mackerel as a new resource in Greenland waters. Fisheries generated 7% of GRP in 2012. So far there is no petroleum production in Greenland, but according to USGS (2008, 2012), Greenland has considerable undiscovered resources, however, the location of these resources provides challenges

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in terms of ice and storms, and the neighbourhood of a pristine natural environment. In 2012 there was negligible mining production in Greenland. The Nalunaq gold mine near Nanortalik in South Greenland was opened in 2004 as the first mine in 30 years and producing until the end of 2008. It was reopened in 2009 due to rising gold prices during the financial crisis, only to close down in 2013 when the prices came down. Substantial reserves of rare earth elements are found in two sites in South Greenland. In one of the sites, Kuannersuit (Kvanefjeld), however, the rare earth elements are mixed with uranium, making extraction an issue of foreign policy and security, areas outside the Greenland Self-Government Rule. In 2015 Greenland’s parliament, Inatsisartut, abolished its zero-tolerance policy for uranium mining. The environmental assessment has not been concluded yet and no permissions have so far been granted. Environmental groups criticize the planned disposal of waste in the Taseq Lake. In 2018 extraction of ruby started in Qeqertarsuatsiaat (a settlement south of Nuuk) and in September 2019 an anorthosite mine in Qaqortorsuaq near Kangerlussuaq was officially opened. Iceland During the financial crisis Iceland went through a serious economic collapse but emerged as a recovery success story. Fisheries is the pillar of the economy. Together fish processing and harvesting of fish resources contributed about 9% to GRP in 2012. Cod is the most important in terms of export value. Agricultural production is small, but increased markedly during the period 2008–2012. Manufacturing other than fish processing declined to about 8% in 2012, still high in an Arctic context. A main component in manufacturing is production of aluminium, an electricity intensive product for export, and an outlet for the huge hydropower resources of Iceland, which are still unconnected to other countries. The tourist boom started with the devaluation of the Icelandic Krone in 2008 and has continued to grow. Currently the export value of tourism counts about a third of total exports. This illustrates that the boom and bust challenge easily occurs in the small Arctic countries and regions. When a success activity emerges, it might occur in the service industries as well as in extractive industries like petroleum and mining. Iceland is richly endowed with geothermal energy and hydropower, covering more than 60% of primary energy consumption. Per capita Iceland is the world’s largest producer of electricity. Arctic Norway Fisheries have been a major source of living during history and now also strengthened by aquaculture. The fishing industry as a whole including harvested fish, farmed fish and fish processing contributes about 5% to GRP. The fisheries are particularly important in terms of employment in coastal communities. Besides rich fish resources the surrounding oceans have petroleum resources. The growth in petroleum extraction is due to a doubling in capacity in production of liquefied natural gas (LNG) at Melkøya outside Hammerfest, based on natural gas extracted at the Snøhvit field in the Barents Sea. Even though growth has been fast in the petroleum industry the total contribution to GRP of Arctic Norway was only less than 2% in 2012, because the major part of income in offshore petroleum is registered in a “virtual accounting region” and only a minor share is included in the regional accounts. Primary production containing the extractive industries represents only 7% of GRP, untypically low in Arctic context. In 2016 the government opened up for


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new exploration licenses in the south eastern part of the Barents Sea. Development of subsea technology and cost reductions increase the attraction of future offshore activity in Arctic waters. Environmental organizations oppose the decision, arguing that this activity will take Norway further away from the climate target of the Paris agreement. The concerns are considerable about the vulnerability of the living ocean environment. The conflicting views among the public are the most apart in the case of Lofoten and adjacent coastal areas, the spawning ground of the North Atlantic cod stock, the pillar of the Norwegian wild fisheries. The rapid growth in income from the fishing industry and tourism based on renewable resources and nature are increasingly seen as threatened by petroleum activity. The Arctic region of Norway has the most rapid growth in number of foreign visitors to Norway and winter tourism is gaining popularity. Arctic Russia Arctic Russia is by far the largest among the Arctic regions both in terms of land area and population. In 2013 the population counted 6.8 million, 10 times larger than that of Alaska, the second largest region. The economy of Arctic Russia is largely based on petroleum and other mining industries, and the two industries contributed 52% to GRP in 2012. An investment boom lead to development of the huge petroleum reserves in Arctic Russia, in particular on the Yamal Peninsula. Further, a large program for investments in oil and gas extraction and transportation has been carried out in the Eastern regions of Arctic Russia to serve the increasing demand from Asian markets. The Yamal Peninsula is a power center of oil and gas industrial development. The first Russian Arctic offshore oil field, the Prirazlomnoe field at only 20 m depth in the Pechora Sea, started production in 2013. New pipelines will facilitate export to Europe from the super-giant Bovanenkovo gas field, the largest in the Yamal Peninsula, which started production in 2012. Russian oil production is dominated by Khanty-Mansii (see Box 1), with smaller shares from Yamal-Nenets and the other Arctic regions of Russia. Yamal-Nenets dominates the Russian gas industry, however, by 2013 gas production outside Arctic Russia and also in other Arctic sub-regions became increasingly important. GRP per capita in Arctic Russia in 2012 was more than two and a half times the level in non-Arctic Russia. Arctic Russia produces 70% of total Russian oil and 90% of Russian natural gas. Global warming is opening up the Northern Sea Route for longer periods during the year and the possibility of reducing shipping time substantially for trade to and from Arctic Russia is emerging. The prospects of the Northern Sea Route give incentives for further development of harbours and other infrastructure for access to sea transport. Cargo to and from Arctic Russian ports along the Northern Sea route increased to 4.5 million tons in 2015. The future level of sea transport over Arctic Russian ports is expected to increase to 83 million tons cargo by 2030. Figure 3 illustrates the composition of the regional economy of Russia Arctic for primary, secondary and tertiary sectors. The pattern illustrated here for Russian Arctic shows the large importance of the natural resources, and less reliance of the economy on the service sectors.

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Fig. 3 Value added by main industry. Arctic Russia. Per cent of GRP 2008 and 2012. Source Fig. 4.37 in The Economy of the North 2015. Mäenpää et al. (2017). Reprinted with permission from The Economy of the North Statistics Norway

Arctic Sweden Unlike most other regions of the Arctic, Arctic Sweden has a strong manufacturing industry, second after Northern Finland in terms of share of GRP. Main industries are production of basic metals and wood and paper. Manufacturing generated about 12% of total value added in 2012. Mining industry increased its share in the regional economy somewhat to about 11% in 2012. It is dominated by iron ore extraction by the state-owned company LKAB in the county of Norrbotten, producing 90% of the iron ore within the EU. Northern Sweden has no petroleum but abounds in potential for renewable energy. The hydro power potential has been crucial for developing mining and metal production and for transportation of iron ore by railway to the harbour city of Narvik in Northern Norway on the way to international markets. Vast forests provide biomass for energy purposes as well as input to wood and paper industry. Wind energy has also expanded, and the vast and sparsely populated areas are seen as ideal for wind parks, although increasingly in interest conflict with traditional reindeer herding, hunting and tourism. Like other Arctic regions, Northern Sweden contains rich mineral resources that count in global context. However, with the land covered by attractive wilderness for hunting, herding, fishing and tourism there are conflicting interests over mining activities. The northern lights have become a very valuable natural resource for the Arctic communities as winter tourism increases. Tourism and other economic interests see damage to their business from new infrastructure and wounded nature. Reindeer herders object to upcoming mining projects to conserve the grazing areas and avoid contamination of groundwater. There is concern among environmentalists about the pollution of land and water from leakages, for instance of heavy metals.


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Fig. 4 Value added by main industry. Arctic Sweden. Per cent of GRP 2008 and 2012. Source Fig. 4.43 in The Economy of the North 2015. Mäenpää et al. (2017). Reprinted with permission from The Economy of the North Statistics Norway

Figure 4 illustrates the composition of the regional economy of Sweden for primary, secondary and tertiary sectors. While Sweden, like Finland, has a larger share of secondary production, the pattern for Sweden is also similar to the other Arctic Nordic regions, with a lower share of primary production, and large share of public and private services. Circumpolar Overview The Arctic regions emerge as heterogeneous with some of them forming recognizable clusters. Arctic Russia, Alaska and Northern Canada are the main producers within petroleum and other mineral mining. In Arctic Russia, the primary production of mainly petroleum and minerals totally dominate the income generation, and more than 50% of GRP originated in these activities in 2012. Among the other regions, Greenland and Faroe Islands are most dependent on renewable resources. In Arctic Sweden and in particular Arctic Finland, the secondary industries have the strongest position. The importance of nature-based activities is illustrated in Fig. 5. The petroleum and mineral rich cluster rely the most on natural resources. Alaska and Arctic Canada hardly process their extracted resources, Arctic Russia do to some extent, whereas all the other regions process their resources, which thus have a more important position in their economies than the extraction activities indicate. Petroleum in the Arctic The Arctic has almost a quarter of global undiscovered petroleum resources, with 11% of oil reserves and 26% of natural gas reserves (USGS 2008, 2012; EIA 2013). Uncertainties for future Arctic petroleum production include competition from other regions, with unconventional oil and gas, in particular in USA, huge conventional gas reserves in the Middle East, in particular Iran and Qatar, and moreover, the development of extraction technology, infrastructure of transportation,

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Fig. 5 Value added in natural resource-based industries in Arctic regions. 2005. Per cent of regional GDP. Source Fig. 4.51 in The Economy of the North 2008. Glomsrød and Aslaksen (2009). (Not updated in The Economy of the North 2015 due to lack of data.) Reprinted with permission from The Economy of the North Statistics Norway

high costs and long lead times, and Arctic weather conditions. Climate policy is expected to impact Arctic petroleum production. The most recent ECONOR report presented an analysis of how future Arctic oil and gas prospects might develop under climate policies, with a potential increase in demand for natural gas in power generation, where it can replace coal. The reference scenario towards 2050 is in line with the New Policy Scenario in IEA World Energy Outlook 2014. The climate policy scenario, aiming for 1.5 °C, is represented by a global CO2 -price of USD 100 per ton in 2030 and USD 140 in 2040 in most OECD-countries and somewhat lower in NonOECD. The CO2 -price has a far stronger effect on coal as it is more carbonaceous than oil and gas. The main result is that the Arctic may have a larger demand for natural gas from a global climate agreement, as the CO2 price may increase demand for gas to substitute for coal. Oil prices do not fall as much as expected, as OPEC may reduce production to ensure roughly the same oil price as without a climate treaty. We focus on the results for natural gas presented in Fig. 6 for all Arctic producing regions and Fig. 7 for West Arctic regions.


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Fig. 6 Arctic gas production. Reference scenario and climate policy scenario. Mtoe. Source Fig. 5.1 in The Economy of the North 2015. Lindholt and Glomsrød (2017). Reprinted with permission from The Economy of the North Statistics Norway

Fig. 7 Regional distribution of West Arctic gas production. Reference scenario and climate policy scenario. Mtoe. Source Fig. 5.2 in The Economy of the North 2015. Lindholt and Glomsrød (2017). Reprinted with permission from The Economy of the North Statistics Norway

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Social and Economic Inequalities in the Circumpolar Arctic The ECONOR report shows large differences in social and economic conditions across the circumpolar Arctic. The socio-economic indicators in ECONOR include widely used indicators of demography, health, education and economic situation. The results suggest distinct patterns in the socio-economic differences between the main geopolitical groups of Arctic regions, North America, the Nordic countries and the Russian Federation. Beyond certain similarities between these regions, there also are large variations within the typical pattern. The situation in the most prosperous regions—Alaska, Troms and Yamal-Nenets—was very different from that of the poorest regions—Nunavik, Greenland and Arkhangelsk. The explanation is found both in the local characteristics and in the structure of society, such as population size, proportion of indigenous peoples, industrial structure, infrastructure development, natural resources extraction regimes, political conditions, social inequalities, and exposure to globalization. The study of socio-economic conditions includes the following indicators: (1) proportion of women in the total population, (2) life expectancy at birth, (3) infant mortality rate (not displayed in the diagrams),1 (4) graduation rate at the tertiary education level, (5) disposable income of households per capita, (6) economic dependency ratio (proportion of non-employed persons to employed persons), (7) population growth, (8) demographic replacement rate (proportion of women in reproductive age to children from 0 to 14 years), (9) demographic dependency ratio (proportion of children and elders to adults), and (10) gross regional product (GRP) per capita. The indictors were transformed and presented as an index on a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 represents the least favourable condition and 10 represents the most favourable condition for human development. The results were displayed in nine-pointed radar-shaped diagrams, where the interpretation of the graph is that the more of the total area that is covered, the more favourable are the indicators in terms of human development. The majority of Arctic regions in North America appear to be rather favourable to human development, with the highest disposable income of households per capita, longest life expectancy, and low rates of demographic and economic dependencies, and a rather high population growth rate and female rate (share of women in the population). GRP per capita and education display average values, whereas the replacement rate is below average. There are notable variations from the three typical patterns. In North American Arctic, in the isolated region of Nunavut, with a small population, the picture is practically the opposite of the typical North American model (Fig. 8). The population of Nunavut has an average life expectancy that is lower than in the other North American Arctic regions, but a significant proportion of dependents, and the levels of education and disposable income per capita are among the lowest in the circumpolar Arctic. Figure 9 shows that the Arctic regions of the Nordic countries follow a different pattern than the typical North American pattern. Most Nordic Arctic regions enjoy 1 Not

available for Arctic regions in Finland and Sweden as national data on infant mortality are no longer regionalized.


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Fig. 8 Socio-economic indicators. (The economic indicator GDP is regionalized and represents gross regional product (GRP) for each region.) North American model, main pattern. 2012. Source Fig. 2.1 in The Economy of the North 2015. Duhaime et al. (2017). Reprinted with permission from The Economy of the North Statistics Norway

Fig. 9 Socio-economic indicators. (The economic indicator GDP is regionalized and represents gross regional product (GRP) for each region.) Nordic countries, model, main pattern. 2012. Source Fig. 2.2 in The Economy of the North 2015. Duhaime et al. (2017). Reprinted with permission from The Economy of the North Statistics Norway

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the longest life expectancy and has female rates close to the global average. The other indicators are all at average or below. Both gross regional product (GRP) per capita and disposable income of household per capita are relatively low compared to the North American regions. However, the levels of public goods, services and transfer payments are much higher in the Nordic countries compared to the other Arctic regions and contribute considerably to the standard of living. There are notable variations from the typical patterns, also in the Nordic Arctic regions. The situation of Greenland and the Faroe Islands is generally similar to the main Nordic model. However, Greenland and the Faroe Islands also differ from the other regions, in particular life expectancy, education and economic dependency ratio are more favourable in the Faroe Islands than in Greenland. Most of the Arctic regions in the Russian Federation show a very different situation than the other Arctic regions. In the general model of Arctic Russia, the female rate (share of women in the population) is far below the global average, the rates of economic dependency are low, and the other indicators are generally below average. The regions in Arctic Russia that differ from the general model, shown in Fig. 10, are Yamal-Nenets, Khanty-Mansii and Chukotka. The GRP per capita in Yamal-Nenets is the highest within the circumpolar Arctic, and several indicators are also very favourable in the other two regions. Altogether they show variations that recall the main pattern of the North American model for resource-rich regions.

Fig. 10 Socio-economic indicators. (The economic indicator GDP is regionalized and represents gross regional product (GRP) for each region.) Russian model, variation of pattern. 2012. Source Fig. 2.8 in The Economy of the North 2015. Duhaime et al. (2017). Reprinted with permission from The Economy of the North Statistics Norway


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A major gap continues to exist between the three geopolitical groups; with inequalities that are highest in Arctic Russia, high in American Arctic, and lower in the Nordic Arctic countries. Yet the different models appear to be converging. The most striking evidence of this is the great improvements in the economic indicators in some of the regions of the Russian Arctic, most notably Yamal-Nenets, KhantyMansii and Chukchi, which attain levels comparable to those in the Nordic Arctic regions. The more modest improvements in the Nordic Arctic regions are attributable to the fact that these regions already had high living standards. However, while the levels of disposable income of households per capita and GRP per capita are becoming similar in resource-rich Russian Arctic regions and the Nordic Arctic regions, the socio-economic situation still cannot be considered equivalent. Indeed, given the same income, the Scandinavians’ standard of living is higher, since it is supported by relatively more generous social benefits.

Nature-Based Subsistence Livelihoods in the Arctic In the mixed cash-subsistence economies of the Arctic, consumption possibilities are often created by a combination of market participation and nature-based subsistence activities. Hunting, herding, fishing and gathering continue to be of major significance to the indigenous peoples of the Arctic in providing food, healthy diets, social relationships and cultural identity. Furthermore, by substituting imported food households’ own catch is also contributing to a sustainable local economy. Except in Alaska, subsistence activities are mostly invisible in official statistics, due to lack of data. In 1978 the State of Alaska enacted the Alaska Subsistence Law recognizing the customary and traditional use of wild resources by rural residents. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Subsistence defines subsistence as the “customary and traditional uses” of wild resource for food clothing, fuel, transportation, construction, art, crafts, sharing, and customary trade (Alaska Department of Fish and Game 2017: 1). Surveys of harvests of wild resources by rural Alaska residents, completed over the past 30 years have found that there is not one typical subsistence economy in Alaska; there are many subsistence economies which vary by regions and communities. Alaska’s ecosystems and natural resources are diverse. Figure 11 shows the composition of harvests by region. Subsistence is maintaining the ability of residents to continue living in areas where jobs are harder to come by and costs of living are higher (Fall 2014). Subsistence is a large part of life, both offsetting the high cost of imported groceries and other goods, but more importantly continuing traditions that are also culturally meaningful (Holen 2009, 2017). Reindeer pastoralism is an indigenous livelihood of key importance for more than 20 different indigenous peoples in the Arctic and Sub-Arctic areas, in Sweden, Finland, Norway, Russia, Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Mongolia and China. In Greenland, Canada and Alaska hunting of reindeer and caribou is prevalent. The

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Fig. 11 Harvest composition by region in Alaska. 2012. Source Fig. 6.5 in The Economy of the North 2015. Holen (2017). Reprinted with permission from The Economy of the North Statistics Norway

reindeer herding livelihood involves around 2.5 million reindeer (Rangifer tarrandus) grazing on natural pastures from the North Sea to the Pacific Ocean, covering an area of 10–15% of the land area of the world (International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR) 2019a). Reindeer herding is a nomadic livelihood, a strategy of securing forage for animals through natural pastures, adapted to natural migration patterns of reindeer, which has enabled use of Arctic mountain and tundra areas for food production. In Norway, reindeer pastoralism is predominantly a Sámi livelihood practiced in the Sámi reindeer herding areas, covering 40% of the total land area of Norway (International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR) 2019b). The governance of Sámi reindeer pastoralism in Norway can be described as a co-management system, across different geographical and administrative scales. An inherent tension in these processes are the land-use rights as impacted by building and infrastructure development (Turi 2016, 2017). One of the greatest challenges for reindeer husbandry is loss and fragmentation of pastures. Over the past decades reindeer pastures have been exposed to reductions from e.g. development of infrastructure, hydropower, cabin resorts, forestry and mineral exploration. Impacts of land use change and climate change are explored in the ECONOR report by pilot studies with the GLOBIO model (Fig. 12). The combination of rapid and simultaneous changes in climate and land-use, where previously traditional nature-based land-use activities were predominant, affecting the options for timing and location for herding, hunting, gathering and fishing activities, constitutes concern for the future of traditional indigenous livelihoods (Degteva et al. 2017).


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Fig. 12 Impacts on biodiversity—measured by MSA (mean species abundance). Source Fig. 9.11 in The Economy of the North 2015. van Rooij et al. (2017). Reprinted with permission from The Economy of the North Statistics Norway

Conclusion The Arctic regions are increasingly exposed to impacts from climate change and global economic trends. While increasing demand for natural resources from the global economy represents opportunities for economic and socio-economic development, there are challenges for nature-based livelihoods and sustainability throughout the circumpolar Arctic. With data for economic and socio-economic development, the ECONOR reports provide background for exploring tensions between the global economy and the livelihoods of the Arctic resource-rich regions. Exploring these trends and patterns can give an economic background for discussions of the geopolitical challenges of the Arctic. Acknowledgements for the Co-Authors of the ECONOR Report This chapter draws upon material and text developed by many co-authors of the ECONOR reports and the circumpolar ECONOR network. Their contributions are gratefully acknowledged, and their names are found in the ECONOR reports. In particular, we acknowledge the contributions to the results presented in this book chapter by Mads Fægteborg, Mia Olsen Siegstad, Hunter T. Snyder, Wilbert van Rooij, Ellen Inga Turi, and Taoyuan Wei. Acknowledgment for Funding and Other Support The ECONOR reports are made for the Arctic Council Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG), and the work is lead by Norway, co-lead by Canada, USA and Saami council, and funded by Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Nordic Council of Ministers, with support from the participating institutions, Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) and Research Council of Norway. Data and results are made possible through extensive cooperation of the circumpolar ECONOR network of statisticians and researchers. Funding, support and other contributions are gratefully acknowledged.

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References ACIA. (2005). Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. AHDR. (2004). Arctic human development report. Akureyri: Stefansson Arctic Institute. Alaska Department of Fish and Game. (2017). Subsistence in Alaska: A year 2017 update. Division of Subsistence, Alaska Department of Fish and Game. https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/home/ subsistence/pdfs/subsistence_update_2017.pdf. Accessed December 1, 2019. AMAP. (2002). Arctic monitoring and assessment programme (AMAP), Arctic pollution 2002. Oslo: AMAP. AMAP. (2011). Arctic monitoring and assessment programme (AMAP): Snow, water, ice and permafrost in the Arctic (SWIPA): Climate change and the cryosphere. Oslo, Norway: Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme. Arctic Council. (2013). Arctic resilience interim report 2013. Stockholm: Environment Institute and Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm. Armstrong, T., Rogers, G., & Rowley, G. (1978). The circumpolar north. London: Methuen. BP. (2016). BP statistical review of world energy. June 2016, 65th edition. http://oilproduction.net/ files/especial-BP/bp-statistical-review-of-world-energy-2016-full-report.pdf. Accessed April 7, 2020. Degteva, A., Oskal, A., Mathiesen, S. D., Burgess, P., Aslaksen, I., Johnsen, K. I., et al. (2017). Indigenous peoples’ perspectives (Chap. 7). In Adaptation actions for a changing Arctic: Perspectives from the Barents area (pp. 167–194). Oslo, Norway: Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP). Duhaime, G., Caron, A., Lévesque, S., Lemelin, A., Mäenpää, I., Nigai, O., & Robichaud, V. (2017). Social and economic inequalities in the circumpolar Arctic (Chap. 2). In S. Glomsrød, G. Duhaime, & I. Aslaksen (Eds.), The economy of the north 2015. Statistical analyses (SA) 151 (pp. 11–23). Statistics Norway. EIA. (2013). Technically recoverable shale oil and shale gas resources: An assessment of 137 shale formations in 41 countries outside the United States. Washington. Fall, J. A. (2014). Subsistence in Alaska: A year 2012 update. Division of Subsistence, Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Special Publication. Glomsrød, S., & Aslaksen, I. (Eds.). (2006). The economy of the north. Statistical analyses (SA) 84. Statistics Norway. https://www.ssb.no/en/natur-og-miljo/artikler-og-publikasjoner/theeconomy-of-the-north–42376. Accessed December 1, 2019. Glomsrød, S., & Aslaksen, I. (Eds.). (2009). The economy of the north 2008. Statistical analyses (SA) 112. Statistics Norway. https://www.ssb.no/en/natur-og-miljo/artikler-og-publikasjoner/theeconomy-of-the-north–42376. Accessed December 1, 2019. Glomsrød, S., Duhaime, G., & Aslaksen, I. (Eds.). (2017). The economy of the north 2015. Statistical analyses (SA) 151. Statistics Norway. https://www.ssb.no/en/natur-og-miljo/artikler-ogpublikasjoner/the-economy-of-the-north–42376. Accessed December 1, 2019. Gordon Foundation. (2015). Rethinking the top of the world: Arctic public opinion survey (Vol. 2). Holen, D. (2009). The dynamic context of cultural and social sustainability of communities in Southwest Alaska. Journal of Enterprising Communities, 3, 306–316. Holen, D. (2017). Subsistence in Alaska. In S. Glomsrød, G. Duhaime, & I. Aslaksen (Eds.), The economy of the north 2015. Statistical analyses (SA) 151 (pp. 90–96). Statistics Norway. Hovelsrud, G. K., Poppel, B., van Oort, B., & Reist, J. D. (2011). Arctic societies, cultures, and peoples in a changing cryosphere. Ambio, 40, 100–110. International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR). (2019a). https://reindeerherding.org/what-isreindeer-husbandry. Accessed December 1, 2019. International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR). (2019b). https://reindeerherding.org/saminorway. Accessed December 1, 2019. IPCC. (2013). United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), working group II. WGII. 2013 (Chapter 28:3, Fifth Assessment Report, AR5). https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/. Accessed December 1, 2019.


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Larsen, J. N., & Fondahl, G. (Eds.). (2014). Arctic human development report II. Regional processes and global linkages. Copenhagen: Nordic Council of Ministers. Lindholt, L. & Glomsrød, S. (2017). Arctic petroleum extraction under climate policies (Chap. 5). In S. Glomsrød, G. Duhaime, & I. Aslaksen (Eds.), The economy of the north 2015. Statistical analyses (SA) 151 (pp. 79–84). Statistics Norway. Mäenpää, I., Glomsrød, S., & Wei, T. (2017). Comparative analysis of Arctic economies at macro level (Chap. 3). In S. Glomsrød, G. Duhaime, & I. Aslaksen (Eds.), The economy of the north 2015. Statistical analyses (SA) 151 (pp. 27–33). Statistics Norway. Nuttall, M. (2010). Pipeline dreams, people, environment, and the Arctic energy frontier. Copenhagen: International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs. Nuttall, M., Burkes, F., Forbes, B. C., Kofinas, G., Vlasova, T., & Wenzel, G. (2005). Hunting, herding, fishing and gathering. In Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. New York: Cambridge University Press. Poppel, B. (Ed.). (2015). SLiCA: Arctic living conditions. Living conditions and quality of life among Inuit, Sami and indigenous peoples of Chukotka and the Kola Peninsula (426 pp., TemaNord 2015:501). Copenhagen: Nordic Council of Ministers. https://doi.org/10.6027/tn2015-501. Poppel, B., Kruse, J., Duhaime, G., & Abryutina, L. (2007). SLiCA results. Anchorage: Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage. www. arcticlivingconditions.org. Accessed December 1, 2019. Rasmussen, R. O. (Ed.). (2011). Analyzing megatrends (TemaNord 2011:527). Copenhagen: Nordic Council of Ministers. http://library.arcticportal.org/1526/1/Te-maNord2011-527_Megatrends. pdf. Accessed December 1, 2019. Siegstad, M. O., & Fægteborg, M. (2016). Ajorpoq—vi får ingen svar! https://naalakkersuisut.gl/ ~/media/Nanoq/Files/Attached%20Files/Formandens%20Departement/Puljemidler/Ajorpoq% 20Kuannersuit.pdf. Accessed December 1, 2019. Turi, E. I. (2016). State steering and traditional ecological knowledge in Reindeer Herding Governance: Cases from western Finnmark, Norway and Yamal, Russia (PhD thesis). Umeå University. Turi, E. I. (2017). Sámi reindeer pastoralism in Norway—Governance and economy. In S. Glomsrød, G. Duhaime, & I. Aslaksen (Eds.), The economy of the north 2015. Statistical analyses (SA) 151 (pp. 108–114). Statistics Norway. USGS. (2008). Fact sheet 2008-3049. Circum-Arctic resource appraisal: Estimates of undiscovered oil and gas north of the Arctic circle. http://energy.usgs.gov/Arctic. Accessed December 1, 2019. USGS. (2012). Fact sheet 2012-3042. An estimate of undiscovered conventional oil and gas resources of the world. http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2012/3042. Accessed December 1, 2019. van Rooij, W., Aslaksen, I., Burgess, P., Garnåsjordet, P. A., & Mathiesen, S. D. (2017). Ecological change in Arctic regions—A GLOBIO3 pilot study of impacts on biodiversity (Chap. 9). In S. Glomsrød, G. Duhaime, & I. Aslaksen (Eds.), The economy of the north 2015. Statistical analyses (SA) 151 (pp. 149–162). Statistics Norway.

Solveig Glomsrød is economist and researcher at CICERO Center for International Climate Research, Oslo, chief editor of ECONOR, and lead author of the ECONOR chapters on circumpolar economy and the economies of the Arctic regions. Her main research area is economic models for climate change impacts. Birger Poppel is economist and project chief emeritus at Ilisimatusarfik, University of Greenland, and lead author of the ECONOR chapters reporting from the Survey of Living Conditions in the Arctic (SLiCA), which he was responsible for developing.

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Lars Lindholt is economist and researcher at Statistics Norway, Oslo, and responsible for the petroleum analysis of ECONOR. His main research areas are petroleum economics and natural resource economics. Gérard Duhaime is sociologist and professor of Sociology at Université Laval, Quebec, co-editor of ECONOR, and lead author of the ECONOR chapter on socio-economic conditions and social inequality. Sébastien Lévesque is sociologist and researcher at Université Laval, Quebec, and contributing lead author of the ECONOR chapter on socio-economic conditions and social inequality. Davin Holen is an anthropologist and professor at the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and lead author of the ECONOR chapter on the subsistence economy. He was formally a researcher and program manager at the Division of Subsistence, Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Iulie Aslaksen is economist and researcher at Statistics Norway, Oslo, and co-editor of ECONOR. Her main research areas are ecosystem accounting and sustainable development.

Connectivity and Infrastructure—The Arctic Digital Divide Michael Delaunay and Mathieu Landriault

Introduction Network connectivity is often taken for granted in most modern societies and economies. However, access to the internet in the Arctic region is still uneven, difficult and slow in many parts of the circumpolar world. This reality definitely highlights the necessity of building infrastructures in order for internet connectivity to materialize and foster the long awaited and needed economic development of this region. These infrastructures, which consist of ground or undersea telecommunications cables, have caught the attention of sovereign states as early as the nineteenth century. Today, the physical network supporting the internet is of strategic importance as global trade is highly dependent on fiber optic cables, through which 99% of global data exchange transits (Poole 2018). States, via their public institutions, private-public partnerships or national champions, are investing, or are willing to invest, in the development of the submarine cables in the Arctic region. State involvement focuses on ensuring control of these key infrastructures, while not being subdued by a market logic. On the other hand, investments from the private sector must be profitable and raise the prospect of sizable market shares. On this note, the Arctic region is faced with specific challenges. Small and isolated communities are not typically conducive for significant private sector investments as return of capital is highly uncertain. The connectivity sector in the Arctic region can be described as both dynamic and united as important areas of consensus exist between major private players. This reality emphasizes the role and influence of sovereign states in the development of polar connectivity infrastructures. Here, the region is not isolated from global

M. Delaunay · M. Landriault (B) 120 University Private, Ottawa, ON, Canada © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 J. Weber (ed.), Handbook on Geopolitics and Security in the Arctic, Frontiers in International Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-45005-2_14



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dynamics, with China and Western countries competing (and sometimes cooperating) to develop telecommunications technologies. The Chinese state has made clear its intention to build its own internet network through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with submarines cables; the Arctic is one of the new routes chosen for the development of this network (Murdoch-Gibson 2018). The development of internet infrastructures and governance allowed the United States and other Western countries (for example England and France) to control digital networks. The status of these countries as leaders in cable manufacturing and laying has led them to become major hubs of data flow, which in turn has allowed them to impose their norms and standards. Today, French, American and Japanese companies such as Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN, France), Subcom (U.S.), and NEC (Japan) are the leaders of the technology that supports the internet (submarine cables of fiber optic). They handle the majority of the laying, repairing and upgrading of the cables that carry the vast majority internet data traffic (Brake 2019). The growing dependence of our societies to the internet is rapidly making the information technology into “the most important power resource” (Nye 2010) of the future, with data also becoming the most valuable resource. American control over the Internet makes this technology a tool of soft power, as Joseph Nye defines it1 (Nye 2010), or a Cyber power2 (Nye 2010). This aids the spreading of American culture (Fleury 2008) in many ways: it advertises their network usage habits, norms and standards, the globalization and the liberalization of the economy. It also helps spread the English language, promotes the technologies and the design of an open network as well as the multistakeholder governance model.3 This tool of soft power no longer seems to be only in the hands of those countries, as China wants to impose its internet governance model and build a new network controlled by its national champions, such as Huawei and China Telecom. China understood that controlling the infrastructure of the internet is a strategic move. Indeed, China or Russia, among others, are actively looking to promote their own governance model called the cyber sovereignty model. This model was promoted by Chinese leader Xi Jinping since December 2015, calling for state regulations on Internet providers in order to censor and supervise the internet and its contents (BBC 2015). In the Arctic region, infrastructure projects require significant investments to come to fruition. For example, the Arctic Connect project harbors the ambition to build a digital network connecting Europe to Asia through the Northern Sea Route. Who is 1 Soft

power was defined by Nye (2010: 6) as “the ability to achieve goals through attraction rather than coercion. It works by convincing others to follow or getting them to agree to norms and institutions that produce the desired behavior. Soft power can rest on the appeal of one’s ideas or culture or the ability to set the agenda through standards and institutions that shape the preferences of others”. 2 Nye (2010: 8) argues that “Cyber power behavior rests upon a set of resources that relate to the creation, control and communication of electronic and computer-based information—infrastructure, networks, soft-ware, human skills. This includes the Internet of networked computers”. 3 This model put forward that governments, technicians, private sector, civil society must discuss and cooperate on how to regulate and shape internet.

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likely to invest in such a project? What are the interests and geopolitical implications of such development? This chapter will address these questions. First, we will sketch the contours of the current connectivity infrastructure scene in the Arctic region. Then, we will describe the positions and opinions of the corporate leaders in the connectivity sector through an analysis of their positions at the Arctic Economic Council. Finally, we will look at the strategic and geopolitical implications raised by the Chinese ambition to build a data polar silk road through the Russian Arctic.

The Current Connectivity Infrastructure in the Arctic Region Network connectivity has been one of the priorities of the Arctic Council and of the Arctic Economic Council since 2016. The objective has been to promote better connectivity in the Arctic, highlighting the urgency of developing better connectivity infrastructures for the Arctic region. Access to Internet connectivity varies across the circumpolar North. The current connectivity infrastructure in the Arctic region is a patchwork of technologies that vary depending on the geographical and economical situations. Starting in North America, Alaska is connected to international telecommunications via a mix of satellites, and micro-waves towers (such as the TERRA Network). The state is also connected by four submarine fiber optic cables (via the states of Washington and Oregon), one cable on the Arctic Ocean coast and one terrestrial cable. A recent report stressed that Alaska has the lowest connection speed in the US with an average of 17.03 Mbps.4 Further east, the three Northern Territories of Canada offer a contrasting digital environment: Yukon has the best connection in the Canadian Arctic, mostly relying on a network of terrestrial cables. For its part, the Northwest Territories also have several terrestrial cables, but also micro-waves and satellite connections while Nunavut relies solely on a satellite connection. As a result, Nunavut has a slow, expensive and limited connection to the internet, leaving the territory subjected to random disconnections that have been known to last from a few minutes up to 16 h, and that has already paralyzed almost all activities (Nunatsiaq News 2011). In the North Atlantic, every village in Greenland of more than 70 inhabitants5 is connected, throughout satellite, digital radio and two submarine cables, thus covering 95% of his population since 2009. The state owned telecommunication provider Tele Greenland finances and owns the network. Iceland has been connected since 1994 to the internet and has four fiber optic cables at the present, mostly financed by public money. The isle also has micro-wave networks and a large mobile phone internet network where “99% of homes have high speed (>30 Mbps) broadband 4 See the following link for more details: https://www.highspeedinternet.com/tools/speed-test#map. 5 See

the following link: https://telepost.gl/en/node/23440.


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connections” (Arctic Council Task Force on Improved Connectivity in the Arctic 2019). This comparative advantage makes Iceland an attractive destination for data center companies to install their server as well as Bitcoin mining companies (Hern 2018). When it comes to Nordic countries, Norway has the best internet network both trough fiber optic cables and 4G mobile internet in his arctic regions of Troms and Finnmark (Arctic Economic Council 2017) and a double cable to Svalbard. The Norwegian town of Kirkenes aspires to become a major data hub with a future fiber optic cable planned in the Russian arctic. Sweden has a strong terrestrial infrastructure of cables and a good coverage of mobile internet with 4G. Finland does not have fiber optic cables connecting its arctic regions, but benefits from a very large coverage of his territory with 4G. However, not all the rural areas of the Nordic countries have yet access to broadband internet (ITU Map—Arctic Economic Council 2017; Arctic Council Task Force on Telecommunications Infrastructure in the Arctic 2017; Arctic Council Task Force on Improved Connectivity in the Arctic 2019: 33). Finally, all of Russia’s arctic cities are connected via terrestrial cables of fiber optic, with Norilsk as the last to become connected in 2018 (Nilsen 2017). The coasts and villages of the eastern regions do not have access to the internet, with the exception of specific locations where oil and gas extraction take place, or where military bases have been built such as Tiksi (ITU Map—Arctic Council Task Force on Telecommunications Infrastructure in the Arctic 2017). The digital divide in the Arctic is strongly felt by local inhabitants. The rhythm of construction of new telecommunications infrastructures in the region is not enough to keep up with new technological advances implemented in density-populated urban areas of the south and the needs of the local population (Bell 2019). This shortcoming increases the effects of isolation felt in Northern communities. However, the telecommunications sector has been quite active in recent years to try to provide solutions for this problem.

Arctic Connectivity Sector The involvement of businesses in regional organisations can serve as evidence to help map their priorities and recommendations. This inclusive governance model allows observers to compare the activism of economic sectors operating in the Arctic region. The Arctic Economic Council (AEC) provides such evidence trough the involvement of many different industries, including the information and communication technologies in the work of the organisation. Arctic governance is composed of a patchwork of regional forums and bodies, each with a distinct mandate and membership. The AEC was officially launched in 2016 as a separate entity from the main Arctic forum, the Arctic Council. The AEC is an offspring of the AC as it originated from the initiative of member states, during the Canadian chairmanship of the AC (2013–2015). The AEC spurred from the specific mandate devoted to the AC: at its inception, the AC was conceptualized

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as an organization tackling environmental and social issues. The areas of interest of each working group constitute a good illustration of this focalization: contaminants, monitoring and assessment, flora and fauna, marine environment, and sustainable development. As Heather Exner-Pirot (2016: 89) highlighted, the AEC represented “a serious departure from the Arctic Council’s bread and butter”. As the region began to open up to increasing human activities, the need to include the private sector in the governance architecture was felt by member states. However, scientists and non-governmental organisations held a privileged position, which compelled the Task force to facilitate the Circumpolar Business Forum (TFFCBF) so as to recommend the creation of a new body, the AEC. The structure of the AEC also mirrors AC’s membership model as every AEC member is based in one of the eight Arctic states (to up to 3/Arctic state). Non-voting partners are also allowed, thus enabling the participation of business interests from non-Arctic countries. As of 2019, the AEC is divided in five working groups, each centered on a particular economic sector (Maritime Transportation, Investments and Infrastructure, Responsible Resource Development, Connectivity, and Energy). Their work is tributary of the involvement and activism of business leaders in each economic sector covered, with companies called upon to participate in the work of the group and share their expertise. The goals of the working groups are diverse, targeting both the private sector and governments. As far as the private sector is concerned, the AEC supports and facilitates the economic development of the region. It also acts as a norm-producing body, generating and promoting best practices and standards to be applied in the private governance of the Arctic. Finally, the organization assumes a policy-recommendation role by providing “advice and a business perspective to the work of the Arctic Council” (AEC 2016). The working groups’ reports are presented to Arctic states and Indigenous representatives through the work of the Arctic Council. The connectivity sector is the most active and coherent working group at the AEC, focusing on the development of Internet infrastructure in the circumpolar region. The AEC connectivity working group organized the Top of the World Arctic Broadband Summit (TOW) in Alaska in 2016. Subsequent TOWs were held in 2017 and 2018 to capitalize on the momentum of the first edition. The connectivity working group was the first to release its report “Arctic Broadband—Recommendations for an Interconnected Arctic” in January 2017, whereas no other working group has released a report as of early 2019. The active work of the connectivity working group signals a united ICT sector, one eager to play a role in the region but that also shares similar assessments and recommendations about the future development of their industry. The 2017 report offers a window into consensual views among industry leaders. This high level of consensus might appear surprising since, as the report noted, the region has “eight countries with varying needs and degrees of development” (AEC 2017: 27). Again, we find a clear divide between the Nordic countries (which have a more compact territory and higher demographic concentration) and other countries, such as Russia and Canada, which boast lower connectivity rates in their Northern


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regions. Moreover, each country has different regulatory and legislative frameworks, rendering the development of any regional strategy hazardous. Even when faced with such heterogeneity, two main areas of consensus can be noted from the report. First, industry leaders clearly framed the Arctic region as one of exception, set apart from other regions by key material realities. Indeed, it is more expensive to operate in isolated areas, due in part to the elevated costs for the construction of the proper infrastructure. Potential markets of consumers are also limited due to low demographic concentration. As the report states, “private investment may be difficult to attract to Arctic broadband projects given the high cost of deployment and often small clusters of customers” (AEC 2017: 3). For these reasons, the Information and communications technology (ICT) industry is desperately seeking for public assistance in order to grow. Industry leaders agreed that states should provide a positive environment for private investments by providing tax incentives, facilitating permits and licenses acquisition by private operators or by building public-private partnership in which states would provide “subsidies, loans, grants, and other mechanisms to foster the construction of new broadband facilities and broadband adoption educational efforts” (Telecommunications Infrastructure Working Group—AEC 2017: 28). On this regard, ICT companies are dependent on state help to develop a region, a project which would not necessarily represent a wise financial endeavor from the shareholders perspective. We can also deduct that the ICT sector does not speak from a position of strength as the Arctic environment is not conducive to major private investments. It is a sector seeking sources of capital to build crucial infrastructures, such as undersea cables. Given that such opportunities are rare, the report suggested other cheaper alternatives to improve connectivity. For example, it suggested striking partnerships between companies and relevant stakeholders and institutions (military, research institutions, etc.) already present in the Arctic region in order to control costs and maximize existing infrastructures. Second, the development of broadband access was posited as being dependent on the development of other industries in the high North. The construction of ICT infrastructures might have to piggyback on the increased human presence and economic needs of other industrial sectors. The extraction of natural resources, especially, oil, natural gas and mineral resources, can have a significant impact on ICT development. However, while natural resource extraction might prove to represent a solution, it is an economic sector highly susceptible to significant price fluctuations and uncertain long-term predictability for specific projects. The boom-and-bust cycles of numerous natural resources projects might hinder the relevance of this synergic relationship. The same goes for the increased transportation opportunity brought forth by global warming, particularly in the Northern Sea Route (NSR). Numerous projects have been announced in the past 20 years to address the Arctic digital divide. For example, in Canada, Nuvitik, a Canadian company, has been looking for public funds since 2014 to connect all the Nunavut communities to internet with his Ivaluk cable. Further, the Kativik regional government succeeded in attracting federal and provincial funding to expand its telecommunication network in Nunavik and Nunavut, with a mix of submarine cable, microwave and satellite

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network (Rogers 2018). The Mackenzie Valley fiber Optic Line was also laid thanks to public investments in 2017, providing digital access from Inuvik to Fort Simpson. These initiatives are mostly undertaken to connect local communities and do not possess a potential for global impact unless they find a way to connect to international cables in the future. On another front, the Arctic region has also been used to improve global connectivity as the Arctic is a shorter route to link the biggest internet users’ areas. These projects possess the potential to fundamentally change the Northern connectivity landscape. For example, in North America, the Arctic Link project was announced in 2010 and had the ambition to connect Japan to England (and on its way Alaska). The project, however, never took off. A slightly different project was launched a few years later by the Canadian based company Arctic Fibre to connect Asia to Europe through the Northwest Passage, but was never concretized and failed to attract public funds. Those aborted projects led Quintillion to buy out the Arctic Fibre project. The first phase of construction was finished in December 2017 (Telegeography 2017) with a cable connecting five villages as well as the oil region of Prudhoe Bay off the coast of Alaska. Quintillion is the only project that succeeded to finance and lay a cable in the Arctic at this latitude. But since April 2018, the former CEO of Quintillion, Elizabeth Pierce, has been accused of fraud (Department of Justice 2019) by the Manhattan federal court, and was sentenced in June 2019 to five years of jail (Downing 2019). She has overvalued the overall expected revenues of this cable during its lifespan, and forged fake contracts with local telecommunications companies in order to attract investors to finance the cable. At the start of the 2000s, a Russian company called Polarnet started its project entitled R.O.T.A.C.S. (Russian Optical Trans-Arctic Submarine Cable System), evaluated at $1.9 billion. Polarnet developed a partnership with the Russian oil company Transneft and had the support of the Russian government. This cable aimed to connect London to Tokyo through the Northern Sea Route, connecting on its way the Russian Arctic. The project never materialized, as numerous financing issues were encountered (Telegeography 2013). Reviving the Russian ROTACS cable project, the Arctic Connect project was announced in 2016 by the Finnish state-owned company Cinia, that plan to install a 10 500 km submarine cable of fiber optic thought the Northeast Passage, between Norway, Russia, Japan and China, cutting latency by 40% from 247 to 156 ms (Joensuu 2017). The project was proposed by the Finnish Transport Ministry (MurdochGibson 2018) after the publication of several reports including one from the former Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen (Lipponen and Svento 2016) about the feasibility and the need for such a project. The countries concerned by the Arctic connect cable (Norway, Finland, Russia, Japan and China) have been included in this project since at least March 2017 (Saunavaara 2018). In 2017, discussions with Chinese officials took place and were described as being “extremely interested” by the Executive Advisor to the Cinia Group Jukka-Pekka Joensuu, (Murdoch-Gibson 2018). The financing issue seems to


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have been already addressed, since the Cinia CEO Ari-Jussi Knaapila told Xinhua that “financing of the cable project would not be a problem” (Xinhua 2019a). As we can conclude, investments in telecommunications projects are difficult to attract in the circumpolar North. Many projects were proposed but have failed to achieve the implementation phase. The Arctic Connect project is the most promising to-date. It would seem that all telecommunications networks were built with a mix of public and private money. That is why states have a crucial role to play in this sector, and need to partner with the private sector to foster the development of those infrastructures; alone, private companies cannot invest in the Arctic without high probability of losing money or making razor-thin profit. Thus, state support will prove to be paramount; the identity of the state support will certainly raise important strategic and geopolitical considerations. In this context, the Chinese state becomes a potential strategic partner, especially for the Arctic Connect project.

The Polar Digital Silk Road: China, the Northern Sea Route and Connectivity The Chinese state has been active in polar science through its Antarctica research program since the mid-1980s. Its activism in the Arctic region is more recent, with research expeditions in the late 1990s-early 2000s and the opening of a research center in Svalbard in 2004. This scientific interest has been complemented by commercial interests and investments in key Arctic countries, notably Iceland and Greenland, with a keen interest on natural resource development (Wegge 2014; Lanteigne 2017; Lackenbauer et al. 2018). China’s entry as observer at the Arctic Council in 2013 has attracted the most amount of attention. The Chinese government has also ensured a presence at key Arctic forums, such as the Arctic Circle Assembly, held every year in Reykjavik since 2013. Key Chinese officials presented Chinese Arctic involvement as necessary since China had to be framed as a near-Arctic state, given that “boreal climate change was having a specific set of effects on China’s environment, ecosystem, agriculture and flooding threats” (Ping and Lanteigne 2015: 14). This framing, alongside mentions of Chinese officials that the Arctic belonged to everyone and was a global common, attracted Arctic states’ skepticism and criticism on Chinese Arctic intentions.6 On the other hand, China participated, with the so-called Arctic 5 (United States, Canada, Norway, Russia, and Denmark) and 4 other entities (European Union, Japan, Iceland, South Korea), in negotiations on fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean (CAO). These discussions of the Arctic 5+5 led to the signature of the Central Arctic Ocean Fisheries Agreement in the Fall 2018, which effectively suspended commercial fisheries in international waters of the CAO until sufficient scientific data was gathered. Chinese consent to implement a fisheries moratorium in international waters was 6 See

for a good summary Bennett 2015 and Lackenbauer et al. 2018

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proof of China’s support for the precautionary norm (Min and Huntington 2016; Landriault 2018). The Chinese state clarified its Arctic ambitions with the publication of its first Arctic strategy, on January 26, 2018. In this document, China recognized the sovereignty of Arctic coastal states while stressing that the country is “an important stakeholder in Arctic affairs” (China’s State Council Information Office 2018). This positioning was due to the fact that the Arctic region was impacted by transnational and global dynamics (climate change, scientific cooperation, shipping and resource development) and that the Asian country is and will continue to be a strategic player on these issues. While typical assertions about respect, cooperation and win-win outcomes were also enunciated, one development project loomed large in the statement: the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The BRI has for ambition to connect the Chinese economy to European markets through the development of trading routes and infrastructures (Huang 2016). Southeast and Central Asia are regions at the forefront of the Chinese initiative, with these routes cutting across developing economies. A similar route is also envisioned going through the Northern Sea Route in Russia’s North reaching in time European countries, often referred to as the Polar Silk road. Significant attention has been devoted to the construction of transport infrastructures, since these infrastructures should facilitate cross-border trade by lowering transportation costs (Herrerro and Jianwei 2017). On the other hand, little attention has been paid to digital infrastructures that will be put in place as a result of the BRI, even though contemporary trade is now as dependent on physical as virtual infrastructures.

China as a Future (Arctic) Cyber Superpower? China is rising and is now capable of shaping global politics, governance as well as norms and standards. The U.S. and China are competing technologically and economically to hold a preeminent role in shaping the norms and standards over the global governance of ICT. Such activism comes with considerable gains of soft power. China is setting up policies similar to the ones that generated soft power to the US. Investments in technological infrastructures can allow them to gain more control over the internet network and the digital economy while promoting their internet governance model (Hillman 2019). The internet is a strategic tool for China as its development and control are promoted as vital elements for the future economic development of the country. The goal is to transform the country’s economy from an industrial dominant economy to a service one, and to bypass the occidental internet network spied by the NSA and other western agencies. Hence, China has the ambition to become a “Cyber-super power” (Segal 2018) free from the western companies dependence and to become an internet technology leader. To achieve this purpose, China decided to launch an “information Silk Road” in 2015 (Hong 2018), by building a Chinese centered global


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internet network. Those policies mark the continuation of the 2000’s going out strategy (Hong 2018), calling on Chinese ICT companies to expand globally through the Internet Plus strategy. Part of this effort takes place in the Arctic region. This initiative means enhancing Arctic digital connectivity, and building a global infrastructure network (China’s State Council Information Office 2018). Connectivity and submarine cables are mentioned several times in the China’s Arctic Policy, showing how important the development of this infrastructure in the Arctic is for China. President Xi gave priority to the development of the internet7 as he assumed leadership (Segal 2018). This priority called for the development of the cyber economy, and the building of the network inside and outside of the country. Infrastructure development includes investments in the digital Silk Road so as to foster the presence of Chinese ICT companies in the global market but also decrease dependency from non-Chinese technologies. This, in turn, is part and parcel of a global strategy to fuel the economic growth and help the country become a world leader in manufacturing high tech products. Through these investments, China is exporting an internet architecture system that imposes more control. Chinese authorities decided to render the internet accessible to citizens in the 1990s but retained technological, social and legal layers of control over the system. With only a few entry points and the Great Firewall,8 the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology that is in charge of the internet is able to monitor, censor or block the data flow coming into its network. Thus, contestation is blocked and the possibilities offered by the network are strongly limited in order to ensure regime persistence and legitimacy. Multiple laws aim to maintain an harmonized cyberspace thanks to social control helped by a “troll army” called wu mao dang, paid by the government to talk positively on social media about the regime (Jing 2016). Otherwise, by law, all Chinese netizens’ personal data must be stored in servers in China so that authorities can force Chinese ICT companies to cooperate with them if needed. The government also has the ability to cut off access to the internet in specific places and situations, such as during the 2009 Xinjiang riots (Nye 2010), or to isolate the Chinese internet from the outside world. This closed network and a market of 829 million Chinese netizens (Xinhua 2019b) allowed Chinese ICT companies to grow and to create a self-sufficient internal digital market. This tight control over the Chinese network might explain why mostly authoritarian countries are interested in letting Chinese companies building internet networks in their countries. But this model could be hard to export outside of this “club” of authoritarian countries, as western internet users support an open infrastructure and are reluctant to accept more state regulation over the internet. For authoritarian regimes, China proposes an alternative to the western dominance on internet, as well as another governance model. The work of Chinese ICT companies is paramount to the establishment of internet access in developing countries as they are willing 7 White

paper on the Internet in China; 13th Five-Year Plan for National Informatization; Made in China 2025 and the Internet plus strategy. 8 Technical equipment, sold by occidental companies, allow Chinese authorities to block unauthorized contents in China.

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to invest in some areas less appealing for traditional Internet providers. The Arctic represents one such area, constituting an opportunity for China to expand its control over the network. This digital Silk Road is also an opportunity for China to open a much-needed market for Huawei, ZTE, China Telecom and other net giants such as Ali Baba, complementing an insufficient internal market. As the Center for Strategic and International Studies has shown, 89% of contracts recipients of Chinese funded transport projects along the BRI were Chinese companies (The Economist 2018). In the submarine cable market, one Chinese company is capable of fulfilling the goal set by state policies: Huawei Marine,9 a joint venture between Huawei and Global marine (GB), represents the fourth player in the submarine cable market. The company possesses 6 cable layers, and has laid 28 cables so far, representing 50,361 km of submarine cable of fiber optic,10 with two experiences in the Arctic (the Greenland Connect and Greenland Connect North cables). However, Huawei Marine is still lagging behind western leaders, as the company only held 2% of market shares in 2014. For example, Alcatel Submarine Networks, which owns seven cable layers (France) makes up 47% of this market (Manière 2016) and has laid 10 times more fiber optic cables (600,000 km11 ), including one project in the Arctic (Quintillion cable).

Arctic Connect, a 700 Million Euros Project The Arctic Connect project represents the most serious attempt at connecting significant sections of the circumpolar North. Such a project requires massive investments, potentially coming from Chinese investors. Nordic countries have a major interest in this project because they aspire to connect their northern regions to a high-speed internet connection, and to Asia. This initiative would also transform the region into the next major data hub (Saunavaara 2018; Kong Soon 2018; Nilsen 2016) thanks to a quick connection to the global internet network, green and cheap energy, and fresh air to cool the data centers. With the arrival of the 5G networks and the expansion of the use of the Internet of Things (IoT), the need for storage and data use will grow exponentially, making data centers even more vital for the global economy. That is why GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft) are building more data centers in the region, which could potentially turn the Arctic, especially Nordic countries, into an important hub for data centers and data flow (Miller 2019). The

9 In June 2019 Huawei was planning to sale its stake in the Joint venture Huawei Marine Systems to

a Chinese company, Hengtong Optic-Electric, depicted as close to the Chinese authorities and specialized in fibre optic cables. See the following link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/huawei-sellingstake-in-undersea-cable-firm-as-u-s-pressure-mounts-11559562892. 10 See the following link: http://www.huaweimarine.com/en/Company/timeline. 11 See the following link: https://web.asn.com/en/about-asn/who-we-are/.


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crypto currencies mining companies also eye the Arctic region for the same reasons (Steitz and Jewkes 2018; Benett 2018). But what are the interests of China in this cable? China’s dependency on the international network and the fact that a sizable proportion of Chinese (59%) are connected to the internet militate for such investments. Building additional cables is vital to fulfill future needs and ensure data flow towards Europe, the second market in importance for China. The Northern Sea Route has another comparative advantage, unlike the Malacca strait or the Suez Canal: it has no choke point, thus reducing the risks that submarine cables be cut or sabotaged. The Arctic Connect project has encountered many delays. The difficulty to find a partner in Russia represented one significant roadblock (Xinhua 2019a). The problem was solved in June 2019 as it was announced that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between MegaFon (the second largest mobile phone company in Russia) and Cinia. The MoU created a joint venture between the two companies to take part in the Arctic Connect project. They also confirmed the existence of a partnership between “Japanese, Nordic partners and an international investment bank” (Cinia 2019; Xinhua 2019c). It would seem that the Arctic Connect project is looked upon favorably by Chinese companies, given that “State-owned China Telecom Corp expressed interest in participating in the cable project and was open to a “win-win cooperation” (Suokas 2017). Others experts affirm that “Finland’s state-owned Cinia Group Oy and China’s stateowned China Telecom are central backers of a trans-Arctic sea cable” (Buchanan 2018), or that China is willing to be a major supporter and partner in this project (Shi 2017; Burkitt-Gray 2018; Pearce 2017; The Arctic 2017; Xinhua 2019a) via political, technical and financial participation. Cinia Executive Advisor Jukka-Pekka Joensuu opened the door to this possibility, stating that the BRI might help finance the Arctic Connect project (Murdoch-Gibson 2018). Moreover, bilateral ties have improved between China and Finland with the visit of Xi Jinping in April 2017 (a first for a Chinese leader since 1995). The opening of a freight railway line between Kouvola (Finland), Xi’an and Zhengzhou (central China) as well as growing investments from Chinese investors in Finland show the importance of the economic and political relations between both countries. Albeit nothing has been made official yet, it seems that China officials and China Telecom are closed partners in this project. Moreover, Huawei is already a partner of Cinia as the Chinese firm has sold equipment for their first cable C-lion in 2016, as well as equipment to connect European data centers to Asia (Huawei 2016). In turn, Huawei could become a strategic partner in this endeavor. Where does Russia stand on Arctic Connect? Russia sees its arctic regions as strategic sources of future economic growth, where lie important oil and gas reserves. Moreover, the Northern Sea Route has the potential to become a major maritime corridor for commercial shipping in decades to come. These development projects will require significant investments which Russia has been lacking since the Ukrainian crisis (2014); funding sources from Western countries are no longer an option for major Russian investments. Chinese investors are already filling this void and striking joint partnerships with Russian partners. This is a marriage of convenience that

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benefits both countries for now, but the extent to which Russia will let China maneuver remains to be seen. Russia is also wary of Chinese investments in its North and does not want China to hold and own key infrastructures (mines, ports, airports, railroads and submarines cables) in such a strategic region (Imasheva 2018). Internet infrastructure represents a particularly pivotal asset in Russia. However, Chinese and Russian internet do have a lot in common: since 2012, the Russian internet (RuNet) tends to be tightly controlled and protected from external and domestic threats. Moreover, the RuNet is self-sufficient in terms of ICT providers (with Vkontakt or Yandex) and can be cut from the rest of the internet and still function. As is the case in China, Russian authorities have the prerogative to store personal data of Russian citizens on Russian servers. Russia desperately requires investments to finance and develop its Arctic region. The Russian government has estimated that 143 billion euros worth of investments would be necessary from 2019 to 2029 (Staalesen 2019). Moreover, Northern development will require technologies that Russia does not has, such as submarine cables of fiber optic that can support harsh climates. Both countries are also promoting a similar internet governance model. This represents an occasion to create an alternate network, separate from the western one, allowing them to spread their cyber sovereign model, and furthering convergent Russian and Chinese interests in terms of accumulation of soft power.

Conclusion Will Chinese companies succeed in laying a fiber optic cable in the Arctic region? Will they succeed where Russian, American and Canadian companies failed, despite several attempts? If so, China will for sure strengthen its growing influence on the global internet infrastructure. The country will also be able to push forward its technology, norms and cyber governance model to offer an alternative to Western (and U.S.) norms and ultimately gain influence in the Arctic region. Chinese involvement in connecting the NSR raises important strategic and geopolitical considerations. The Arctic region is not perceived as a beneficial investment from an ICT corporate standpoint; states are solicited to support, fund or directly build key ICT infrastructures in the high North. While this financial support is presented as benign by industry leaders who are active at the Arctic Economic Council, such governmental aid will certainly come with increased governmental control over these infrastructures and dependence over who builds and owns it. Additionally, this state support is likely to come from states that have or want a tighter control over the internet such as Russia and China. The five years jail sentence against the former chief executive of Quintillion, Elizabeth Pierce, is a reminder that the involvement of the private sector alone might not suffice to develop key connectivity infrastructures. The Quintillion project has for ambition to contribute to the construction of an undersea cable off the coast of Alaska to Asia and Europe through the Northwest Passage. The company still


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affirms that the project will go ahead as scheduled. However, the scandal highlights that public funds might be necessary to provide additional stability and certainty for these key infrastructure development projects. The case of the polar digital Silk Road indicates that interested states such as China will be inclined to develop these infrastructures in time. A proactive approach is then more appropriate for countries like Canada. By opting for the former, Canada might end up caught between a rock and a hard place, squeezed between the geopolitical interests of superpowers such as China and the United States. Such triangular relation would definitely not be in the interests of Canada. These infrastructures will also require significant investments by multiple partners, including sovereign states. This necessity runs counter to the current strategy of the Canadian government of investing in local projects rather than global ones. The development of a polar digital Silk road through the NSR represents an intriguing precedent as the NSR has thawed more quickly than other potential Arctic maritime routes. While the trans-polar route (connecting Europe and North America by going over the North Pole) will likewise soon open up a new maritime route, the immensity of the Arctic Ocean reduces the likelihood of building ICT infrastructures. The Northwest Passage (NWP), cutting across the Canadian Arctic archipelago, shares numerous similarities with the NSR. If the NSR precedent is any indication, the development of ICT infrastructure is likely to follow the increased use of the seaway for maritime transportation purposes. The time has come for Arctic states to consider ICT infrastructure development as equally important to the construction of roads or bridges, as strategic assets. These investments are as crucial for a twenty first-century economy as those in the transport sector (railroad, airports) were in the ninetieth and twentieth centuries. They will be a tool of soft power for states and contribute to the economic development of the region and to the well-being of Northerners, with the ultimate objective of closing the polar digital divide.

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BBC. (2015). China internet: Xi Jinping calls for ‘cyber sovereignty’, BBC News, December 16, 2015. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-35109453. Accessed Aug 14, 2019. Bell, J. (2019). The connected territory? Nunavut still waits, April 1, 2019, Nunatsiaq News. https://nunatsiaq.com/stories/article/the-connected-territory-nunavut-still-waits/. Accessed Jun 11, 2019. Bennett, M. (2015). How China sees the Arctic: Reading between extraregional and intraregional narratives. Geopolitics, 20(3), 645–668. Bennett, M. (2018). Bitcoin mining: The next rush to hit the Arctic? Cryopolitics. February 5, 2018. http://www.cryopolitics.com/2018/02/05/bitcoin-mining-the-next-rush-to-hit-thearctic/. Accessed May 04, 2019. Brake, D. (2019). Submarine cables: Critical infrastructure for global communications, information technology and innovation foundation, April 19, 2019. http://www2.itif.org/2019-submarinecables.pdf?_ga=2.178509028.1559330305.1565787505-942248057.1565787505. Accessed July 15, 2019. Buchanan, E. (2018). Sea cables in a thawing Arctic. The Lowy Institute. https://www.lowyinstitute. org/the-interpreter/sea-cables-thawing-arctic Accessed 15 Mar 2018. Burkitt-Gray, A. (2018). e700 m Arctic cable ‘to get backing’ to speed Asia-Europe links, Capacity Meda. https://www.capacitymedia.com/articles/3814531/EXCLUSIVE-700m-Arctic-cableto-get-backing-next-week-to-speed-Asia-Europe-links. Accessed June 07, 2019. China’s State Council Information Office. (2018). China’s Arctic policy. http://english.gov.cn/ archive/white_paper/2018/01/26/content_281476026660336.htm. Accessed on May 7, 2019. Cinia. (2019). Arctic telecom cable initiative takes major step forward. https://www.cinia.fi/ en/archive/arctic-telecom-cable-initiative-takes-major-step-forward.html. Accessed on June 7, 2019. Department of Justice. (2019). Former CEO of Alaska-based fiber optic cable company pleads guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for defrauding. New York Investment Companies. Downing, S. (2019). Ambition above the law: Quintillion former CEO sentenced to five years, Must Read Alaska, June 19, 2019. http://mustreadalaska.com/ambition-above-law-former-quintillionceo-sentenced-to-five-years/. Accessed July 15, 2019. Exner-Pirot, H. (2016). Canada’s Arctic council chairmanship (2013–2015): A post-mortem. Canadian Foreign Policy Journal, 22(1), 84–96. Fleury, G. (2008). Internet comme vecteur de pouvoir, Études internationales, Le décloisonnement du droit international et des relations internationales. L’apport des approaches critiques, 39(1), 83–104. https://www.erudit.org/fr/revues/ei/2008-v39-n1-ei2395/018720ar/. Accessed May 14, 2019. Hern, A. (2018). How Iceland became the bitcoin miners’ paradise, The Guardian, February 13, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/13/how-iceland-became-thebitcoin-miners-paradise. Accessed June 01, 2019. Herrerro, A. G., & Jianwei, X. (2017). China’s belt and road initiative: Can Europe expect trade gains? China and World Economy, 25(6), 84–99. Hillman, J. E. (2019) Influence and Infrastructure—the strategic stakes of foreign projects. Report of the CSIS Reconnecting Asia Project. https://www.csis.org/analysis/influence-and-infrastructurestrategic-stakes-foreign-projects. Accessed June 05, 2019. Hong, S. (2018). Building a digital silk road? Situating the internet in China’s belt and road initiative. International Journal of Communication, 12(2018), 2683–2701. Carnegie Mellon University. https://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/8405. Accessed May 02, 2019. Huang, Y. (2016). Understanding China’s belt and road initiative: Motivation, framework, and assessment. Chinese Economic Review, 40, 314–321. Huawei, (2016). Cinia selects Huawei to build direct digital silk road between Asia and Europe. https://carrier.huawei.com/en/relevant-information/all-cloud-network/build-directdigital-silk-road. Accessed May 24, 2019.


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Imasheva, A. (2018). Chinese economic interests in the Arctic, center for strategic assessment and forecasts. http://csef.ru/en/politica-i-geopolitica/501/ekonomicheskie-interesy-knr-varktike-8712. Accessed May 15, 2019. Jing, L. (2016). Revealed: the digital army making hundreds of millions of social media posts singing praises of the communist party, South China morning post. https://www.scmp.com/ news/china/policies-politics/article/1947376/revealed-digital-army-making-hundreds-millionssocial. Accessed June 10, 2019. Joensuu, J.-P. (2017). Arctic connect, from vision to reality development plan 2017–2020. Cinia. Power Point presentation. https://arcticeconomiccouncil.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/ 06/TOW-Summit-Joensuu.pdf. Accessed June 04, 2019. Kong Soon, L. (2018). China’s Arctic policy and the polar silk road vision. Arctic Yearbook 2018. Lackenbauer, P. W., Lajeunesse, A., Manicom, J., & Lasserre, F. (2018). China’s Arctic ambitions and what they mean for Canada. University of Calgary Press. Landriault, M. (2018). Opening a new ocean: Arctic ocean fisheries regime as a (potential) turning point for Canada’s Arctic policy. International Journal, 73(1), 158–165. Lanteigne, M. (2017). ‘Have you entered the storehouses of the snow?’ China as a norm entrepreneur in the Arctic. Polar Record, 53(2), 117–130. Lipponen, P., & Svento, R. (2016). Report on the Northeast passage telecommunications cable project. Summary. Finland: Ministry of Transport and Communications. Manière, P. (2016). Télécoms: pourquoi le chinois Huawei veut grandir dans les câbles sous-marins. La Tribune. December 22, 2016. https://www.latribune.fr/technos-medias/telecoms-pourquoile-chinois-huawei-veut-grandir-dans-les-cables-sous-marins-626277.html. Accessed May 28, 2019. Miller, R. (2019). Microsoft plans zero-carbon data center in Sweden. Data Center Frontier. May 29, 2019. https://datacenterfrontier.com/microsoft-plans-zero-carbon-data-center-insweden/. Accessed June 04, 2019. Min, P., & Huntington, H. (2016). A precautionary approach to fisheries in the Central Arctic ocean: Policy, science, and China. Marine Policy, 63, 153–157. Murdoch-Gibson, S. (2018). Finland’s Arctic data cable set to disrupt global connectivity. Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, Canada. June 19, 2018. https://www.asiapacific.ca/blog/finlandsarctic-data-cable-set-disrupt-global-connectivity. Accessed May 05, 2019. Nilsen, T. (2016). Trans-Arctic fiber cable can make Kirkenes to high-tech hub, The Barents Observer. December 04, 2016. https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/industry-and-energy/2016/12/ trans-arctic-fiber-cable-can-make-kirkenes-high-tech-hub. Accessed June 03, 2019. Nilsen, T. (2017). Russia’s remotest Arctic tundra city gets fiber-optic internet, The Barents Observer, September 28, 2017, https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/industry-and-energy/2017/09/ largest-city-russias-arctic-tundra-gets-fiber-optic-internet. Accessed June 03, 2019. Nunatsiaq News. (2011). Northern telecom service restored after 16 h Telesat Canada satellite glitch, Nunatsiaq News, October 7, 2011. https://nunatsiaq.com/stories/article/65674telesat_canada_ screw_up_knocks_out_northern_telcoms/. Accessed 03 06 2019. Nye, Jr. J. S. (2010). Cyber power, Belfer center for science and international affairs. Harvard Kennedy School. Pearce, J. (2017). China Telecom linked to plans for arctic subsea cable, Capacity Media. https://www.capacitymedia.com/articles/3775858/China-Telecom-linked-to-plansfor-arctic-subsea-cable. Accessed May 20, 2019. Ping, S., & Lanteigne, M. (2015). China’s developing Arctic priorities: Myths and misconceptions. Journal of China and International Relations, 3(1), 1–25. Poole, J. (2018). Submarine cable boom fueled by new tech, soaring demand, equinix, March 21, 2018. https://blog.equinix.com/blog/2018/03/21/submarine-cable-boom-fueled-bynew-tech-soaring-demand/. Accessed Aug 14, 2018. Rogers, S. (2018). Nunavik gets funding to launch work on its high-speed internet network, August 24, 2018, Nunatsiaq News. https://nunatsiaq.com/stories/article/65674nunavik_gets_funding_ to_launch_work_on_its_high-speed_internet_network/. Accessed May 24, 2019.

Connectivity and Infrastructure—The Arctic Digital Divide


Saunavaara, J. (2018). Arctic subsea communication cables and the regional development of northern peripheries, Arctic and North (32). http://www.arcticandnorth.ru/upload/iblock/298/05_ Saunavaara.pdf. Accessed Apr 10, 2019. Segal, A. (2018). When China rules the web, Foreign Affairs. August 13, 2018. https://www. foreignaffairs.com/articles/china/2018-0813/when-china-rules-web. Accessed Apr 25, 2019. Shi, T. (2017). 10,000 km of fiber-optic cable show China’s interest in warming Arctic. Bloomberg. https://www.bloombergquint.com/business/undersea-cable-project-shows-china-sinterest-in-warming-arctic. Accessed June 10, 2019. Staalesen, A. (2019). e143 billion investments needed on Northern sea route. The Barents Observer, March 18 2019. https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/arctic/2019/03/eu143-billion-investmentsneeded-northern-sea-route. Accessed on June 6, 2019. Steitz, C., & Jewkes, S. (2018). Cryptocurrency miners seek cheap energy in Norway and Sweden. Arctic Today. April 10, 2018. https://www.arctictoday.com/cryptocurrency-miners-seek-cheapenergy-norway-sweden/. Accessed June 04, 2019. Suokas, J. (2017). China, Finland in talks about Arctic telecom cable, GBTimes. December 14, 2017 https://gbtimes.com/china-finland-in-talks-about-arctic-telecom-cable. Telegeography. (2013). Is dormant Polarnet project back on the agenda? TeleGeography. January 28, 2013. https://www.telegeography.com/products/commsupdate/articles/2013/01/28/isdormant-polarnet-project-back-on-the-agenda/. Accessed June 03, 2019. Telegeography. (2017). Cable compendium: A guide to the week’s submarine and terrestrial developments, TeleGeography. December 15, 2017. https://www.telegeography.com/products/ commsupdate/articles/2017/12/15/cable-compendium-a-guide-to-the-weeks-submarine-andterrestrial-developments/. Accessed Dec 2017. The Arctic. (2017). China interested in project to lay submarine cable line along Russian Arctic coast, Arctic.ru. https://arctic.ru/international/20170731/650577.html. Accessed June 11, 2019. The Economist. (2018). China has a vastly ambitious plan to connect the world. The Economist. July 26, 2018. https://www.economist.com/briefing/2018/07/26/china-has-a-vastly-ambitiousplan-to-connect-the-world. Accessed May 12, 2019. Wegge, N. (2014). China in the Arctic—interests, actions and challenges. Nordlit, 32, 83–98. Xinhua. (2019a). Arctic connect data cable project delayed. Xinhua. March 23, 2019. http://www. xinhuanet.com/english/europe/2019-03/23/c_137916543.htm. Accessed Apr 22, 2019. Xinhua. (2019b). China has 829 million online users: Report. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/ 201902/28/WS5c77a871a3106c65c34ec02b.html. Accessed June 05, 2019. Xinhua. (2019c). Plan to build Arctic northeast cable gets boost. http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/ europe/2019-06/07/c_138122903.htm. Accessed June 07, 2019.

Michael Delaunay is a doctoral candidate at Université Versailles Saint Quentin-en-Yvelines (UVSQ). His doctoral thesis is on the role that telecommunications can play in the Canadian Arctic as an empowerment tool for Northerners and a control mechanism for governments. He has published articles on the evolution of submarine optic fiber cables in the North American Arctic. Michael Delaunay is a member of the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS France) and of the research group “Cultures, Environnements, Arctique, Représentation, Climat” (CEARC) at UVSQ. He is also a researcher at the Observatoire de la politique et la sécurité de l’Arctique (OPSA), based in Montreal. Dr. Mathieu Landriault is the director of the Observatoire de la politique et la sécurité de l’Arctique (OPSA). He is lecturing in the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa and the School of Conflict Studies at Saint Paul University. He is also an associate researcher at the Center for Interuniversity Research on the International Relations of Canada and Quebec (CIRRICQ), a researcher at the Centre for International Policy Studies (CIPS) of the University of Ottawa and post-doctoral fellow at Trent University. He is researching media and public opinion on Arctic security and sovereignty matters, in addition to conducting research on the evolution


M. Delaunay and M. Landriault

of Arctic governance, especially in relations with subnational governments, the private sector and non-governmental organisations.

Between Cooperation and Confrontation: Dimensions of Arctic Geopolitics and Security

Arctic Narratives and Geopolitical Competition David P. Auerswald

Introduction The Arctic is a place of considerable geopolitical uncertainty today, just as it was in the immediate aftermath of the Cold War. Thirty years ago, Arctic countries faced a series of choices on regional management. The need to heavily militarize the Arctic had seemingly disappeared. Melting ice looked to herald a new race for Arctic resources, particularly hydrocarbons, fisheries and rare earth minerals, as well as the possibility for transpolar shipping and eco-tourism. The future was potentially bright, but questions remained. Would the Arctic be governed via unilateral actions, collectively through a regional compact, or opened to global management similar to what existed in Antarctica? Would the Arctic be a zone of peace or an area of geopolitical competition? The record since then demonstrates that Arctic governance debates—and the competing narratives used in those debates—have been bounded by geopolitical calculations and constraints. For most of the last 30 years, climate realities and early U.S. and Russian geopolitical red-lines constrained the realm of the possible in the Arctic. Within that acceptable range, however, narrative debates over Arctic governance have been driven by less powerful Arctic states and non-state actors. More recently, the U.S. and Russia have been joined by China in a narrative contest pitting governance vision against governance vision, with less powerful Arctic states caught in the middle. Understanding how Arctic governance has evolved over the last 30 years is important for both scholars and practitioners. For scholars, the debate over the region’s

D. P. Auerswald (B) National War College, Washington, D.C., USA e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 J. Weber (ed.), Handbook on Geopolitics and Security in the Arctic, Frontiers in International Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-45005-2_15



D. P. Auerswald

future highlights the relationship between geopolitical power and international narratives in determining regional governance. For practitioners, understanding the evolution of Arctic diplomacy will be important for future relations in an increasingly accessible region. This chapter unfolds in four main sections. It starts with a review the role of competing narratives in international governance. It is argued that narrative contestation is a useful signifier of underlying geopolitical competition in Arctic governance. After that three narrative debates are described. The first two were driven by less powerful Arctic states, operating within bounds set in the immediate post-Cold War era by the U.S. and Russia. One debate pitted advocates of environmental protection against advocates of economic development in the Arctic. The venue for this debate has been the Arctic Council, the primary international forum for non-security issues in the Arctic. A second debate involved maritime governance, pitting the five Arctic states with coastlines above the Arctic Circle (Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the United States of America, the so-called A-5) against the three Arctic states without coastlines above the Arctic Circle (Iceland, Sweden, and Finland, the so-called A-3). Finally, the third narrative debate—taking place today—pits contrasting American and Russian conceptions of the Arctic order based on unilateralism against China’s new governance narrative, forcing less powerful Arctic states to adapt to a new Arctic reality. Information in this chapter comes from hundreds of public record government documents and speeches made by officials from the eight Arctic nations as well as over 120 field interviews with regional policymakers. Interview subjects included two former prime ministers, eight former foreign ministers, four former defense ministers, a former interior minister, and two former energy ministers, as well as dozens of active ambassadors, senior foreign and defense ministry personnel, and members of parliament. Many of these interviews were on-the-record, and all were at the unclassified level.

Narratives and International Relations The last 30 years of Arctic governance has been a battle of narratives. Narratives are themed stories used by governments and non-governmental international actors to explain behavior and convince others to see the world the way they do. Narratives have three main components. They are advanced or propagated by someone that wants to influence an audience, whether international, domestic, or some combination. They attempt to explain the world by reference to familiar concepts and ideas that are easily understood by those audiences. Finally, their goal is to affect beliefs (Entman 1989). In other words, their goal is either to reinforce existing beliefs and behaviors or to change minds and actions. In the words of Lawrence Freedman, narratives are “compelling story lines which can explain events convincingly and from which inferences can be drawn (Freedman 2006).” Scholars have argued that international

Arctic Narratives and Geopolitical Competition


narratives are particularly important tools for small countries, as they must rely on moral and cognitive persuasion rather than the exercise of raw power to protect their interests.1 The literature on narratives suggests that narratives succeed when they reference compelling or familiar ideas, place specific events into a longer storyline, and are not challenged by counter-narratives. Consider each component. Narratives need to resonate with existing social understandings or the audience’s core values before they can affect that audience’s beliefs about specific policies (Zellman 2015: 493; Ringsmose and Børgesen 2011: 512). They work by tapping into underlying cultural norms, values and attitudes.2 Narratives do that by linking unrelated events into longer, familiar storylines to convince the audience that actions happened (or will happen) for the reasons advanced by the narrator (Ringsmose and Børgesen 2011: 512). In this sense, narratives share similarities to media framing, but with an important difference. Framing involves deliberately referencing a pre-existing belief to explain an event. Narratives also reference underlying beliefs, yet narratives aim to tell a story to “set out relationships among actors, actions and motivations” across time (Coticchia and de Simone 2016: 36). If frames are bricks, narratives are the larger structure made of those individual bricks (Ibid.). Finally, narratives are more convincing if they are clear, consistent and not challenged by counter narratives (Massie 2016: 53; Ringsmose and Børgesen 2011: 513–514; Zellman 2015: 495). This has led one study to advance the idea of narrative dominance as an important explanation for public support for war (Dimitriu and de Graaf 2016: 3). Another recent study has argued that foreign policy failure impedes contested narratives, while international success creates opportunities for competing narratives to thrive (Krebs 2015). In short, multiple narratives “contribute to an increase, rather than a decrease, in uncertainty” (Schumacher 2015: 384). Narratives are one potential, informal way to change the interpretation or actual terms of Arctic governance. Nations that want to change the terms of governance— whether to empower or undercut the status quo—can use narratives to convince other nations to agree. Nations can use narratives to push for informal changes to the status quo, or to argue in favor of new formal international institutions and conventions. Conversely, states that value the status quo can use competing narratives to undercut the case for change. This chapter explores the extent to which the narrative literature’s expectations are borne out in the Arctic context, and the degree to which the outcomes of narrative debates are influenced by geopolitical power.3 As we will see below, there have been a series of competing narratives in the Arctic focused on appropriate policy priorities in the region, on maritime governance for the region, and most recently on Arctic 1 Mitchell

(2009). See also Posner and Goldsmith (2000). and de Graaf (2016, 6). One interesting question is how narratives fit into national role conceptions. For a review of that literature, see Brummer and Thies (2015). 3 The focus of this paper shares some similarities to that of Wilson Rowe 2018, 59, who notes that “resting powers structure only in broad strokes the room for manoeuvre in the region at key junctures, but their preferences are difficult to ignore”. 2 Dimitriu


D. P. Auerswald

governance by individual nations, mini-multilateralism amongst Arctic nations, or by the global community writ large.

Economic Development and Environmental Protection Since the end of the Cold War, Arctic states have debated the relative importance of economic development and environmental protection in the region. That debate has taken place in the Arctic Council. The Council was created in 1996 and has since become the primary regional, multilateral, governance entity in the Arctic.4 The Arctic Council was the result of negotiations between the eight Arctic nations. The Council embodied a shared understanding of what was and was not within the realm of possible governance arrangements in the region. The Council would initially focus on environmental protection, scientific exchanges and economic development. The Council’s portfolio deliberately excluded hard power issues like security and trade. Thus, the narrative debate in the early years of the Council was really on what it would not be, rather than on the relative emphasis on environment versus development. At least in the formative years, the Council’s scope was constrained by the geopolitical calculations of the world’s remaining great powers. Early discussions on post-Cold War Arctic cooperation suggest there was broad agreement among most Arctic states on environmental cooperation in the region. Some Arctic nations, particularly the Nordic states, wanted to focus on environmental issues (Chater 2015: 61). The Norwegians, for example, wanted to push the Russians to engage in an environmental cleanup of the heavily polluted Murmansk and Kola Peninsulas. Finland was also one of the earliest proponents of the Council taking on environmental coordination, for a number of reasons. In early October 1987, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev gave a speech calling for the Arctic to be a zone of peace.5 The Finns seized on this speech as an opportunity to become a key intermediary between Russia and the West, keeping Finland at the center of regional diplomacy. They believed that a focus on the environment was just the sort of non-hard power issue that could bring the region together, with Finland continually involved in the discussions.6 The Finnish initiative resulted in an interim action plan for Arctic states known as the 1991 Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS).7 The Canadians took the AEPS idea and ran with it, pushing for its transformation into the Arctic Council (Chater 2015: 61). But Canada wanted to pursue both 4 For

the definitive discussion of events leading to the Arctic Council’s creation, see Young (1998). The 1996 Ottawa Declaration text is available at: http://www.international.gc.ca/arctic-arctique/ ottdec-decott.aspx?lang=eng, accessed 7 March 2016. Details of the council’s structure and processes were finalized in the 1998 Iqaluit Declaration, https://oaarchive.arctic-council.org/handle/ 11374/86. 5 For a text, see: https://www.barentsinfo.fi/docs/Gorbachev_speech.pdf, accessed on 8 March 2016. 6 Interview with Ambassador Jukka Valtasaari, Helsinki, Finland, 23 September 2015; interview with senior Finnish Foreign Ministry official, Helsinki, Finland, 23 September 2015. 7 Fenge and Funston (2015: 3–4). See also Chater (2015: 58–60).

Arctic Narratives and Geopolitical Competition


regional economic development as well as environmental issues in the Arctic. Economic development was (and remains) a focus of Canadian policy particularly for underserved, indigenous peoples in northern Canada. Russia, the U.S. and Norway opposed including economic development in the Council’s mandate while the other Nordic states sided with Canada.8 That said, while the Arctic states eventually were willing to discuss economic development in theory, no one could come to agreement on what the term meant, much less agree on economic priorities or concrete action items (Bloom 1999; Fenge and Funston 2015: 5). The real debate was on the Arctic Council’s scope and authorities. These were constrained by the preferences of the more powerful states in the region. In particular, the United States objected to the Council being used to address territorial disputes or trade relations. The U.S. was also strongly opposed to adding military security to the Council’s agenda, an addition recommended by some Nordic states.9 There was a larger issue at stake for the U.S. at the time. President Bill Clinton had embraced the idea of a Europe whole and free as part of a broader strategy of worldwide engagement and enlargement, but the focus was on Central and Eastern Europe rather than the Arctic.10 Building and/or reinforcing pan-European institutions was the priority.11 In the view of the administration, hard power issues like trade and security “should be discussed in an international fora with appropriate jurisdiction,” rather than the Arctic Council (Bloom 1999). In the words of a U.S. official at the time, “A concerted attempt to debate these policies within the Council may jeopardize the delicate process of building this new institution.” He went on to note that, “Individual Arctic states can have confidence that the Council will not be used either to impose policies with which they disagree or to require participation (and thus payment) for programs which are not matters of priority for them” (Bloom 1999). That was one reason the U.S. opposed creating a permanent Council secretariat.12 Russian officials were also reluctant to discuss security issues in the Arctic Council because they did not want the new Council to constrain Russian behavior at a time of considerable uncertainty. Remember that Russia was democratizing in the early 1990s when the Arctic Council’s scope and form were being discussed, and democratization was fragile. Russian President Boris Yeltsin had to fend off a revolt in parliament in October 1993 and faced a secessionist movement in Chechnya, the rise of oligarchs at home, a series of economic crises, and plummeting public support 8 Chater

(2015: 65–66). Interview with Dr. Arne Roksund, Deputy Secretary General in the Norwegian Ministry for Trade, Industry and Fisheries, Oslo, Norway, 2 December 2015. 9 Discussions with U.S. Arctic Council representatives, 2013. See also Chater (2015: 67), Wilson Rowe (2018: 68–69). 10 See: http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/doctrine/research/nss.pdf, accessed 7 March 2016. 11 Those institutions could help realize the international promise of improving great power relations while helping decrease international and domestic uncertainty. Remember that on the latter front, the early 1990s saw a rise in civil wars, as exemplified by famine and warlords in Somalia, civil war in Bosnia, and genocide in Rwanda, as well as high profile terrorist bombings of the World Trade Center (1993), the Tokyo subway (1995), Oklahoma City (1995), and the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia (1996). 12 Interview with Norwegian Arctic Council official, Oslo, Norway, 5 November 2015.


D. P. Auerswald

in the lead-up to his reelection bid in mid-1996. The time was not right for binding international commitments, or at least that is what Russian behavior suggested. For example, Russia initially objected to the Council having an environmental focus, which was not surprising given their practice of dumping spent nuclear fuel in Arctic waters. They agreed on the Council’s structure only after it was decided that the Council would not have binding international legal authority to force states to change their behavior (Chater 2015: 70). Though the early debate in the immediate post-Cold War years was over the Council’s scope and authorities, Council debate has since shifted back to the relative priority of environmental protection and economic development, as long as the policies that result from that debate do not overly constrain national behavior. The following Table 1 lists the priorities of the Arctic states that have published Arctic strategy documents. There is no unified set of priorities across the A-8 (that is the A-5 and the A-3 combined). Some states prioritize economic development while others prioritize environmental protection. According to their last published strategies, Swedish and U.S. strategies prioritized environmental protection over Arctic development. Those rankings were consistent with their respective governing party’s priorities at the time their strategies were published. U.S. President Barack Obama had made environmental protection a major part of his governing platform when the U.S. published its 2013 Arctic strategy (and implementation guidance in 2016), as did Sweden’s Reinfeldt minority coalition government when they published their 2011 Arctic strategy. Other Arctic states (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway) prioritized development over environmental protection. This made sense for those countries for unilateral reasons. Northern Canada and Greenland (part of Denmark) were (and continue to be) desperately in need of economic development. Both territories lack infrastructure, economic opportunities and social programs that are enjoyed by the rest of their respective countries. Northern Finland is behind other Finnish regions in terms of economic opportunities, if not to the same extent. Iceland was essentially bankrupt after the 2008 global financial crisis. Their 2011 Arctic policy reflected their need for foreign investment and economic development. Finally, Norway’s economy is dependent on the extraction of hydrocarbons and fish products from their Arctic waters. Development of those resources, particularly in the northern Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea, is imperative to Norway’s continued economic prosperity. And while they have not had a formal Arctic strategy since 2008, Russia seemingly prioritizes resource extraction and national security over environmental protection and regional cooperation.13 The point to remember is that none of these priorities bound any other nation. Though contrasting narratives existed, their national proponents did not seriously try to convert other countries to conform. Instead, the priorities in each Arctic strategy 13 Wilson

Rowe (2018: 91, 97); Atle Staalesen, “The Arctic will make us richer, says Putin,” The Independent Barents Observer, 16 December 2017, https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/arctic/2017/ 12/arctic-will-make-us-richer-says-putin; the 2013 Strategy for the Development of the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation and National Security until 2020; and the 2009 Foundations of the Russian Policy in the Arctic until 2020 and Beyond.

Denmark (2011)

Peaceful Arctic

Sustainable development

Environmental protection

Multilateral solutions

Canada (2015)

Exercising Sovereignty

Environmental protection

Economic and social development

Empowering local peoples

Table 1 Arctic strategic priorities

Multilateral solutions

Environmental protection

Sustainable development

Finland (2016)

Sustainable development

Cooperation with states and stakeholders

Multilateral solutions

Strengthen Arctic Council

Arctic status

Iceland (2011)

Environmental protection

Sustainable development

Cooperation with neighbors

Norway (2017)

Peace and cooperation

Environmental protection

National security

Resource development

Russia (2008, 2013, 2019)

Multilateral solutions

Human dimension

Sustainable development

Environmental protection

Climate research

Sweden (2011)

International cooperation

Environmental protection

Advance security interests

U.S. (2013/16)

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were consistent with national domestic or geopolitical calculations of each individual Arctic nation. That said, this period saw a series of binding agreements that prioritized environmental protection over economic development, facilitated by discussions within the Arctic Council. This suggests that environmental proponents “won” the narrative debate. This would be incorrect. Instead, unilateral calculations explain the adaptation of the 2013 Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic, and the 2018 Agreement to Prevent Unregulated High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean. This is because neither agreement forced Arctic states to give up anything or do anything that they were not already doing. The 2013 oil spill agreement embodied both principles. It was aimed at strengthening cooperation and mutual assistance among Arctic states should there be an oil spill in Arctic waters. Yet, the agreement did not require much from its signatories. The agreement’s focus was on monitoring and notification of oil spills (Articles 6 and 7). It did not require that countries do anything beyond notification and unspecified “cooperation and assistance” if requested by the affected nation (Article 8). Indeed, Article 15 states that “Implementation of this agreement shall be subject to the capabilities of the parties and the availability of relevant resources,” which essentially gives each Arctic country the leeway to contribute as much or as little as it chooses in any particular incident. Moreover, the agreement did not constrain Arctic state behavior. The agreement did not prevent new drilling. It did not apply to warships (Article 3). And it left preparedness standards to the discretion of each participating country (Article 4). The 2018 Arctic Fisheries agreement puts a 16-year moratorium on commercial fishing in the High Seas portion of the Arctic Ocean, the “Donut Hole” between U.S. and Russian EEZs, and the “Banana” space between Norwegian and Danish EEZs. The agreement is important for Arctic states, in that climate change is causing fish stocks to move north to find colder waters. The worry is that commercial trawlers will follow the fish north and overfish the unregulated High Seas waters, and because fish do not recognize EEZ boundaries, overfishing in the High Seas will indirectly deplete each Arctic states’ fish population. The agreement serves Arctic state interest without constraining their peoples’ behavior in any fundamental way. Most trawlers going to the Arctic Ocean come from non-Arctic states. A fishing moratorium thus does not hurt local fishermen. The agreement does not alter national regulation of fishing within an Arctic state’s EEZ. That is still the purview of each state. The agreement does not alter existing fisheries agreements between Arctic states.14 In short, the agreement constrains the behavior of outside actors without significantly affecting Arctic state behavior. Overall, then, the behavior described in this section is consistent with expectation from the “narratives” literature. Narratives are more likely to affect behavior when they reference underlying beliefs and are not countered by competing narratives. 14 Examples include the Joint Norwegian-Russian Fisheries Commission, the 1980 fishing quota agreement between Norway and Iceland, and the 2014 agreement between Norway, the Faroe Islands (Denmark) and the EU.

Arctic Narratives and Geopolitical Competition


The underlying narrative of the Arctic Council—initially pushed by the U.S. and Russia, the region’s great powers—was that the Council should not consider hardpower security issues. No one contested that narrative, and the Arctic Council has not touched those issues in the almost 25 years of its existence. Conversely, there have been significant differences of opinion between Arctic states—and within individual nations over time—as to the relative priority of economic development and environmental protection. Competing narratives have resulted in no real regional consensus as to which priority should take precedence. On face value, environmental agreements suggest the environmental narrative’s primacy. Looking deeper into those agreements, however, reveals that their requirements do little if anything to constrain economic development. This too is consistent with the narrative debate literature. Finally, geopolitical calculations run throughout these debates. The Council’s initial scope was constrained by great powers, and the relative development versus environment emphasis was a national rather than region-wide decision. States calculated whether environmental protection or economic development, or both, was in their best geopolitical interest and were free to act on that interest as long as what one country did would not bind the others to similar behavior.

Maritime Governance A second narrative debate was over how Arctic waters should be governed. This debate took place outside the Arctic Council, though states frequently referenced the Council in their arguments. The main lines of division were between the five Arctic coastal states on one side, and on the other side the three non-coastal states with support from concerned non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the European Parliament. In the mid-2000s, the A-3 began pushing for global governance of Arctic waters rather than leaving them under the control of the Arctic coastal states. The early part of the century witnessed a rapid melting of Arctic sea ice, culminating in record low (to that point) ice coverage in 2007 (NASA 2007). A growing awareness of climate change led to a belief that a melting Arctic would create a scramble for marine resources—particularly for undersea hydrocarbons and fish stocks—absent some sort of governance regime for the region that was stronger than the Arctic Council. An August 2007 expedition to the North Pole, in which the expedition’s leader planted a Russian flag on the seabed floor, reinforced public concerns (Chivers 2007). A widespread fear was developing of a coming Arctic gold rush.15 At the same time, few if any international regulations existed to protect the Arctic environment from man-made disasters. A series of oil spills raised concerns about the possible environmental damage should something similar happen in the Arctic. 15 For an example, see Borgerson (2008). This perception was heightened by U.S. Geological Survey



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In December 2004 the oil tanker Selendong Ayu broke in half off the Alaskan coast, spilling more than 100,000 gallons of oil into the sea. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck the Gulf of Mexico in August and September 2005. Together they destroyed more than 100 offshore oil platforms, damaged more than 50 others, and spilled more than 8 million gallons of oil into the Gulf, almost as much oil as was spilled in the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster off the southern Alaska coast. No one knew what would happen if a comparable spill occurred in frigid Arctic waters, but the difficulty associated with cleaning up the Exxon Valdez did not bode well for spills farther north. These concerns culminated into growing calls from outside the Arctic—mostly from NGOs and European parliamentarians—for a binding international treaty to govern Arctic waters, similar to the 1961 Antarctica Treaty.16 The European Parliament, for example, considered a resolution on an Arctic treaty, calling for “international negotiations for the adoption of an international treaty for the protection of the Arctic, along the lines of the existing Antarctic Treaty, in order to make the Arctic a zone of peace and cooperation reserved solely for peaceful activities and free of disputes over sovereignty.”17 In the words of one Greenpeace report on the Arctic, “Several interests, including academics, the World Wildlife Fund and the European Parliament, proposed adoption of a new legally-binding Arctic Charter or Arctic Treaty. These proposals tended to be based on the belief that there was something of a vacuum where Arctic governance was concerned, and this reflected poorly, not just on the Arctic Council, but also on the Arctic states.”18 The proposed treaty would give the international community control over Arctic waters as an international commons. The Arctic coastal states—particularly those outside the EU—objected to this initiative and put forward a counter-narrative that an Arctic treaty was unnecessary. They maintained that the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) was sufficient for oceans regulation because it defined state authorities and responsibilities within territory waters, contiguous zones, exclusive economic zones (EEZ), extensions to the continental shelf, and the High Seas. Norway, for example, believed that fisheries management should be the exclusive prerogative of the Arctic coastal states.19 Arctic states argued that the global community should leave Arctic governance to the Arctic states, who were doing just fine managing the region within the UNCLOS. Moreover, some Arctic coastal state officials relayed to the author their belief that non-Arctic states had no idea as to what regional governance was like or the expertise to implement a new Arctic governance structure.

16 Struzik

(2010) For an interesting treatment of the role of transnational organizations in international organizations, see Tallberg et al. (2014). 17 See European Parliament, RC-B6-0172/2009, 26 March 2009, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/ sides/getDoc.do?language=EN&reference=B6-2009-0172&type=MOTION, which followed Document RC-B6-0523/2008, 30 September 2008, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do? type=MOTION&reference=B6-2008-0523&language=EN; both accessed 9 April 2016. 18 Fenge and Funston (2015: 15). See also Koivurova and Molenaar (2010). 19 Interview with Dr. Arne Roksund, Deputy Secretary General in the Norwegian Ministry for Trade, Industry and Fisheries, Oslo, Norway, 2 December 2015.

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“The people in the European Parliament didn’t understand UNCLOS,” said one Norwegian official with significant experience in Arctic issues.20 The A-5 advanced a governance counter-narrative, most forcefully expressed in the A-5 Ilulissat Declaration of 28 May 2008.21 The Ilulissat Declaration rejected the need for an Arctic Treaty, re-asserted the A-5’s right to govern Arctic waters within their EEZs, and reaffirmed the sufficiency of UNCLOS as a guide for maritime behavior. The A-5 argued that the Arctic Ocean was no different from any other ocean. In their view, existing international law gave them control of most Arctic waters, the A-5 were good managers of those waters, and no changes needed to be made to these arrangements. Their narrative was that their unilateral actions, as long as consistent with international law, were sufficient in the Arctic.22 The hope, according to a 3 September 2007 Danish foreign ministry document discussing the rationale for the Ilulissat meeting, was that the declaration would defuse calls for an Arctic treaty (Cited by Petersen 2011: 154). Ministers from the A-5 again met privately in March 2010 in Chelsea, Canada. The group’s communiqué reaffirmed the Ilulissat Declaration’s main points, again focusing on the importance of UNCLOS and the A-5’s role in Arctic governance. The A-5 had twice now gone on record essentially declaring their exclusive control of their Arctic EEZ waters, which translated into exclusive control of most Arctic waters. They had done so by referencing UNCLOS, but in a way that essentially excluded the other three Arctic states (the A-3) from the discussion. The three Arctic states that were not involved in the Ilulissat or Chelsea declarations formally protested being left out of A-5 meetings. They launched a counternarrative focused on the threat that the A-5 declarations posed for the continued functioning of the Arctic Council (Wilson Rowe 2018: 66). They also attempted to redefine what it meant to be an Arctic state (Wilson Rowe 2018: 64). The former counter-narrative appeared to pay dividends because it referenced the importance all Arctic states placed on the Council. The latter narrative went against established international norms and failed to shift the views of the A-5. In the words of a senior Icelandic official, the A-5 declarations “annoyed Iceland very much because the A-5 had deliberately excluded Iceland.”23 The Chelsea declaration, in particular, was met with an immediate negative response. The Icelandic government lodged a strongly worded, formal diplomatic protest, arguing that “no difference should be made between the member states of the Arctic Council and that

20 Interview

with senior Norwegian foreign ministry official, Oslo, Norway, 2 December 2015. A-5 met in Ilulissat, Greenland at the request of Danish Prime Minister Per Stig Moller and Greenland’s Prime Minister Hans Enoksen. For a text of the Ilulissat Declaration, see www. oceanlaw.org/downloads/arctic/Ilulissat_Declaration.pdf. For a review of the declaration’s effect, see Dodds (2013). 22 Countering the perception of a land-grab free-for-all raised by the Russian flag-planting episode was one reason the Danes called the Ilulissat meeting. Interview with senior Danish Foreign Ministry official, Copenhagen, Denmark, 25 April 2016. 23 Interview with Ambassador Arni Thor Sigurdsson, Reykjavik, Iceland, 9 November 2015. 21 The


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the exclusion of some undermines the importance of the Council.”24 Foreign Minister Ossur Skarphedinsson strongly objected to the mini-multilateralism practiced by the A-5. In his words, “Iceland sides firmly against the so-called five-states meetings.”25 Iceland’s formal Arctic policy, released in late March 2011, warned against such exclusionary mini-multilateralism. The policy read, “Individual member states must be prevented from joining forces to exclude other member states from important decisions.” Iceland’s policy emphasized their intent to fully multilateralize the Arctic through agreements and cooperation with “other states and stakeholders.”26 This last point was a signal that Iceland intended to cooperate with China and NGOs because the A-5 were deliberately weakening the Arctic Council.27 Iceland also took issue with the A-5 definition of the Arctic as territory north of 66°, 34 min north latitude, because by that definition Iceland was not an Arctic state. In a May 2010 speech to the Icelandic parliament, for example, Foreign Minister Skarphedinsson argued that Iceland was a full-fledged Arctic coastal state because its EEZ extended well above the Arctic Circle. Finnish Foreign Minister Anna-Maria Liukko echoed Iceland’s concerns, noting, “We are worried that [the Chelsea declaration] might harm the role of the Arctic Council as a vehicle for transatlantic and circumpolar cooperation” (Quoted in Bennett 2010). Beginning in 2012, Finland also began asserting at every opportunity that it too was an Arctic state, both to galvanize Finns to pay attention to regional events but also as a signal to the A-5.28 Finland’s 2013 Arctic Strategy, for example, focused on its Arctic status. “One of Finland’s key objectives is to bolster its position as an Arctic country.”29 The Finnish business community shared this objective and advanced this narrative internationally.30 So, like Iceland, Finland argued that the full A-8 should be consulted on Arctic governance. Sweden quickly followed Finland’s lead. In a May 2012 speech, then Foreign Minister Carl Bildt reminded the world that Sweden was an Arctic country as well, the Arctic mattered a great deal to Sweden, and he wanted the Arctic Council to “make the Arctic voice heard globally.”31 Bildt’s statement was a departure for Sweden, who had never considered the Arctic a priority before Sweden assumed

24 For a text, see “Iceland Protests a Meeting of Five Arctic Council Member States in Canada,” 18 February 2010, https://www.mfa.is/news-and-publications/nr/5434, accessed 10 March 2016. 25 Ossur Skarphedinsson, “Address to the Althingi,” 14 May 2010; and interview with Foreign Minister Ossur Skarphedinsson, Reykjavik, Iceland, 10 November 2015. 26 “Parliamentary Resolution on Iceland’s Arctic Policy,” 28 March 2011. 27 Interview with Ossur Skarphedinsson, Reykjavik, Iceland, 10 November 2015. 28 For examples, see: Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, “Speech at Finnish-Russian Arctic Partnership,” 5 June 2012; Interviews with Finnish embassy officials, Washington, DC, 4 September 2015; Interview with senior Finnish Member of Parliament, Helsinki, Finland, 23 September 2015. 29 Finnish Prime Minister’s Office, “Finland’s Strategy for the Arctic Region 2013,” 23 August 2013: 43. 30 Interview with Mr. Jaakko Savisaari, CEO of Atlas Elektronik, Helsinki, 21 September, 2015. 31 Carl Bildt, “Speech on Arctic Challenges,” 17 May 2012.

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the Council chairmanship in May 201132 (Indeed, the government had no coherent approach to the Arctic until right before assuming the chairmanship.33 ). The A-3 counter-narrative met with partial success. Some members of the A-5 realized that they would have to make a gesture, if only a symbolic one, in response to the complaints arising from the Ilulissat and Chelsea declarations. For instance, Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen advanced a division of labor between the A-5 and the Council. “Meetings in the Arctic Five should only address issues of exclusive competence for the coastal states—first of all delineation of the continental shelf. Those issues that also involve the other Arctic States and the indigenous peoples should be discussed in the Arctic Council” (Espersen 2012: 201). The Danish position on the division of labor between the Council and the A-5 was quietly supported by the U.S. as early as 2010.34 Neither the Danes nor the U.S., however, supported redefining the Arctic along the lines suggested by Iceland. Other A-5 members were less sympathetic. Canada, Norway and Russia held to their earlier position that the region’s waters were governed by UNCLOS rules, which empowered the A-5 within their territorial waters and EEZs. Norwegian officials, in particular, had little patience with Council members or observers who believed they could do a better governance job than the A-5.35 In the words of Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide, “We need no specific rules,” for Arctic waters beyond what was in the UNCLOS, and non-Arctic state and non-state interest in the region was “why we need clear rules.”36 The narrative battle over who should govern Arctic waters, and how to define the Arctic region geographically, unfolded as the literature on narratives would predict. The debate began with an attempt by NGOs and European parliamentarians to weaken Arctic state control of Arctic waters, with the claim of a governance vacuum in the region’s oceans. The A-5 counter-narrative asserted their authority by referencing their sovereign rights under customary international law and the UNCLOS. These are widely accepted international concepts, so it is no wonder the counter-narrative prevailed. At the same time, the A-3 complained about being excluded from Arctic governance discussions, and warned that their exclusion risked the Arctic Council’s continued viability. That argument succeeded in at least partially winning over the U.S. and Denmark toward a more inclusive multilateral position. Finally, Iceland’s attempt to redefine the Arctic got a somewhat sympathetic ear from Finland and

32 Interview with Karin Enstrom, former Swedish Defense Minister, Stockholm, Sweden, 10 December 2015; interview with former Swedish Arctic Council representative, Stockholm, Sweden, 9 December 2015; interview with Ambassador Teppo Tauiainen, head of the America’s Department at the Swedish foreign ministry, Stockholm, Sweden, 11 December 2015; interview with Swedish defense officials, Stockholm, Sweden, 10 December 2015. 33 Interview with Ambassador Gustaf Lind, former Arctic Ambassador for Sweden from 2010 to 2014, Stockholm, Sweden, 8 December 2015. 34 Interview with Foreign Minister Lene Espersen, Copenhagen, Denmark, 27 April 2016. 35 Interview with senior Norwegian Foreign Ministry Official, Oslo, Norway, 2 November 2015; interview with former Swedish Arctic Council representative, Stockholm, 9 December 2015. 36 “Interview with Espen Barth Eide,” Spiegel Online, 26 October 2012, accessed 22 October 2015.


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Sweden but did not change the prevailing international consensus on the Arctic’s geographic boundaries. Though this behavior is consistent with expectations from the literature on narratives, it is also not surprising when we consider the geopolitical dynamics in the region. Geopolitical numbers were on the side of the winners. More powerful states—the U.S., Russia, Canada, Norway, Denmark—won the debate over less powerful states—Iceland, Finland, Sweden—that wanted to more fully multilateralize the region. In short, the behavior in this section represents an overdetermined outcome.

Recent Great Power Competition in the Arctic The most recent narrative debate is over the governing principles associated with the Arctic and involves China, Russia and the United States. China has put forward a narrative focused on global governance of the Arctic, with a special place for China rather than the A-8. Russia has asserted a revanchist narrative against the liberal international order and a unilateralist approach to the Eurasian Arctic, all while professing to support the work of the Arctic Council. The U.S. has recently characterized the Arctic as an arena of great power competition rather than a zone of peace and cooperation. More broadly, the Donald Trump administration has questioned the value of international institutions and treaties and favors unilateralism. China: In January 2018, China introduced its Arctic Policy.37 This was another step in a strategy of slowly accreting influence in the region. The initial step began with their request for Arctic Council permanent observer status in the early 2000s, which would give them a voice in Council working group discussions on climate research, polar shipping standards and fisheries management. Their narrative approach at the time was that they wanted to contribute to Arctic research as a constructive member of the international community. They backed up words with actions. Arctic Council representatives told me that China played a largely constructive role in Council working group meetings. The most prominent example of China’s “constructiveactor” narrative was their willingness to abide by the jurisdictional rights of the Arctic states as a condition of being granted Arctic Council permanent observer status in 2013.38 The 2018 Arctic Policy marks a departure of sorts. Some will argue that the 2018 Arctic Policy is nothing of the sort. Parts of it are consistent with their 2013 pledge to defer to the A-8 on governance. The policy reads, “All states…should respect the sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction enjoyed by the Arctic States in this region.” Other parts, however, advance a new narrative that is more consistent with China’s grey zone activities in other parts of the world (Morris et.al. 2019; Coats 2019; Auerswald 2019b). 37 http://english.gov.cn/archive/white_paper/2018/01/26/content_281476026660336.htm. 38 https://arctic-council.org/index.php/en/about-us/arctic-council/observers.

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In China’s new narrative, China is a “Near Arctic” state, which gives it a claim on regional governance decisions. The policy argues that, “The Arctic situation now goes beyond its original inter-arctic states or regional nature, having a vital bearing on the interests of states outside the region.” According to the Arctic Policy, all Arctic stakeholders should “ensure that the benefits are shared by both Arctic and non-Arctic States as well as by non-state entities, and should accommodate the interests of local residents including the indigenous peoples.” The A-5 has rejected China’s appeals for inclusive governance (Wilson Rowe 2018: 63). Russia, according to the interviews conducted for this study with officials across the Arctic, have been leery of China’s Arctic ambitions since the early 2000s. Officials in the United States, Canada, Denmark and Norway have all told the author privately that their governments also reject sharing control of the Arctic with nonArctic states. In the last several months A-5 governments are increasingly making that rejection public. Most famously, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo singled out China in May 2019, saying that, “China’s words and actions raise doubts about its intentions” in the region.39 China’s new Arctic narrative found a more sympathetic ear from officials with responsibility for Arctic scientific research, fisheries management, and shipping standards, in addition to some politicians in Greenland and Iceland, both of which want Chinese investment. Iceland has successfully courted Chinese investment ever since the 2008 financial crisis bankrupted the country. Iceland’s Foreign Minister, Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, seemed open to China’s new narrative when announcing in May 2019 that, “Working closely with all partners, inside as well as outside the region, is of utmost importance for both prosperity and security in the Arctic region.”40 Greenland, a domestically autonomous government under Danish foreign policy authority, has made several appeals for greater Chinese investment and seems open to a larger Chinese role in the region. In 2017, for example, Kim Kielsen, then Greenland’s prime minister, made a trip to China to appeal for investment.41 Denmark’s repeated veto of Chinese investment proposals in Greenland has led to discontent across political factions within the Nuuk government.42 Aaja Chemnitz Larsen, Greenland’s representative to Denmark’s parliament, was quoted as saying, “In Greenland, we don’t suffer from China anxiety like they obviously do in the government in Copenhagen.”43 A Nuuk parliamentary leader noted, “The Danish government must respect that these are decisions for Greenland to make. Many of us think that Denmark applies double standards when it comes to Chinese investments (Breum 2018).”

39 https://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2019/05/291512.htm. 40 https://arctic-council.org/index.php/en/about-us/arctic-council/iceland-chairmanship. 41 https://www.reuters.com/article/china-arctic-greenland/greenlands-courting-of-china-forairport-projects-worries-denmark-idUSL4N1QP346. 42 https://www.arctictoday.com/dispute-china-greenlands-airports-worked-way-toward-solution/. 43 https://www.reuters.com/article/china-arctic-greenland/greenlands-courting-of-china-forairport-projects-worries-denmark-idUSL4N1QP346.


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Russia: Russia has a history of constructive interactions within the Arctic Council, even in the face of broader geopolitical conflicts. As detailed earlier in this chapter, Russian political statements routinely support the Arctic Council and express a desire to keep the Arctic as a region of peace and stability. Russian rhetoric supports the notion that the Arctic coastal states control activities within each country’s EEZ, a position shared by the other A-5 states. At the same time, the Russians are increasingly challenging the western narrative on international relations. Russian President Vladimir Putin very publicly questioned the continued viability of the liberal international order in a June 2019 media interview,44 and by extension the Arctic Council’s durability as one manifestation of that order. Russian actions have been consistent with Putin’s narrative, in that Russia has repeated violated sovereignty norms when such violations support core Russian interests. Examples include Russian actions in Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea, hybrid operations in the Balkans, assassination attempts in Western Europe, election interference in the United States and select European countries, and the weaponization of Russian energy export policies. Russia’s Arctic narrative is also changing. They have asserted unilateral control of their Arctic waters—specifically the Northern Sea Route (NSR) along Russia’s northern coast, have fortified a series of shipping choke points along the route, and are demanding that transiting ships pay tolls, take aboard a Russian ice pilot, and be inspected when required. Noncompliant ships are subject to being stopped, boarded, impounded and even destroyed. Foreign warships transiting the NSR must provide details on the ship’s complement and armaments and file a route 45 days in advance of transit. This is well beyond what Canada has asserted with regard to the Northwest Passage, their equivalent waterway. In short, the Russians are pushing a unilateralist Arctic narrative, diametrically opposed to the multilateralism expressed by the A-3 (Auerswald 2019a). The Russians have put a gloss of multilateralism on their unilateral moves. They justify their NSR actions with an international law narrative referencing Article 234 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Article 234 states that countries with ice-covered waters in their EEZ but beyond their territorial waters can regulate those EEZ waters if doing so will protect the environment. The only restraint on that power is the “due regard” for navigation, a vague statement that leaves much to interpretation. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has made these conditions and their rationale well-known. In his words, “We will do everything to ensure that the movement of foreign ships is in full compliance with the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea.”45 At a superficial level, this and similar statements seemingly support international legal perspectives in the Arctic. At a deeper level, however, Russia’s represents an emerging narrative of unilateral Arctic governance.

44 Barber

et al. (2019). https://www.ft.com/content/670039ec-98f3-11e9-9573-ee5cbb98ed36.

45 “Lavrov: Russia will ensure safety of Northern Sea Route,” UAWIRE, 7 May 2019, https://uawire.


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The United States: The Donald Trump administration also has approached the Arctic from a unilateral perspective, focused on international competition. The administration sees the Arctic as a competitive rather than a cooperative space. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo used remarks at the May 2019 Arctic Council ministerial meeting to highlight emerging U.S. competition with China and Russia in the Arctic. He said, “the region has become an arena for power and for competition. And the eight Arctic states must adapt to this new future.”46 He bluntly rejected China’s claim to be a near-Arctic state, and said that “Chinese activity, which has caused environmental destruction in other regions, continues to concern us in the Arctic.”47 He pointed to Russian actions in the NSR as “part of a pattern of aggressive Russian behavior here in the Arctic. Its actions deserve special attention … because we know Russian territorial ambitions can turn violent.”48 Similarly, the June 2019 Department of Defense Arctic Strategy called the Arctic “a potential avenue for expanded great power competition and aggression.” It argued that the U.S. has an interest in “limiting the ability of China and Russia to leverage the region … through malign or coercive behavior (Department of Defense 2019: 5).” The U.S. has seemingly jettisoned the multilateral approach of previous U.S. administrations in the Arctic in favor of unilateralism and nationalism, even if that comes at the expense of the Arctic Council. Most famously, President Trump offered to buy Greenland from Denmark in August 2019, rather than work cooperatively with Denmark on joint-investment, and then reacted with hostility when the offer was rejected. In May, Secretary Pompeo refused to sign the Arctic Council’s communique because it referenced climate change (Milne 2019). In Pompeo’s words, “Collective goals, even when well-intentioned, are not always the answer. They’re rendered meaningless, even counterproductive, as soon as one nation fails to comply.”49 In short, U.S. leaders at the highest levels no longer sees the Arctic as a zone of peace and stability. Instead, they see it as another competitive arena which is best addressed through unilateralism. This third narrative debate suggests that we are entering a new era of Arctic relations where geopolitics is again bounding the debate-space for competing narratives, just as occurred in the early days of the Arctic Council. The difference, of course, is that the earlier era was one of hope and emergent cooperation, which allowed for the Arctic Council’s creation, if within bounds. The most recent era seems competitive and hostile by contrast, marginalizing cooperative behavior. Narrative themes appear unilaterally focused, with a gloss to international law in Chinese and Russian references to UNCLOS.

46 Pompeo

(6 May 2019). (7 May 2019). 48 Pompeo, (6 May 2019). 49 Pompeo, 7 May 2019. 47 Pompeo


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Concluding Thoughts The Arctic was a place of considerable uncertainty in the immediate aftermath of the Cold War. Countries in the region faced a series of choices with regard to how the region would be managed. These choices, however, were not without controversy, diplomatic battle, and rhetorical challenges, best explained by tracing the competing narratives in the region. The region faces similar choices today, but instead of agreeing to cooperate within the bounds set by the great powers, the region’s great powers appear set on a unilateral, competitive narrative. If today’s unilateralist narrative is not challenged, we could see a trickle-down effect to less powerful Arctic states, forcing them to side with one or another Arctic great power or band together to contest the unilateralist narrative. Unfortunately, smaller states are facing domestic pressure to adopt similar unilateral narratives. The rise of nationalist parties within Europe is pushing lesser powers to adopt unilateralist policies on immigration, for example, and the same could hold true with questions in the Arctic. One issue to watch is fisheries management. There are no agreed-upon fisheries quotas between Norway, Denmark, and Iceland, all of whose economies depend on fishing income. Nor are there fisheries agreements between Nordic states and non-Arctic states like Scotland, England or China. As ocean waters warm and fish stocks move north, fisheries disputes could grow more urgent. The question remains as to whether they will be resolved via multilateral agreement or unilateral action. On broader economic issues, we are seeing states being forced to take sides. Small, economically fragile polities like Iceland and Greenland remain open to Chinese economic investment. More robust economies like Norway and Denmark have questioned Chinese intentions. Scandinavian states are watching Russia with deep suspicion, but are starting to doubt U.S. reliability, all while hoping to compartmentalize Arctic relations from broader geopolitics. Despite these pressures, there are glimpses that European Arctic states may try to form their own counternarrative, supporting multilateralism and rejecting unilateralism. For instance, the Trump administration’s recent Arctic behavior regarding the Arctic Council and Greenland was met with shock and rejection by smaller Arctic powers. Mette Frederiksen, the Danish prime minister, reacted to Trump’s Greenland offer by saying “Greenland is not for sale. I really hope that it’s not something that is seriously meant (Politi and Milne 2019).” Margot Wallstrom, Sweden’s Foreign Minister, said the offer sounded like a joke. More broadly, she warned that great power competition in the Arctic meant that, “All the rest of us, we have to stand up for the Arctic region and the Arctic Council and use it in the best possible way (Milne 2019).” In the words of Carl Bildt, former Swedish Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, we are operating in “a world increasingly dominated by a disruptive U.S., an assertive China and a revanchist Russia (Bildt 2019).” The question remains

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whether the pooled geopolitical power of European Arctic states can be merged with a compelling multilateral narrative, or if instead the region mimics great powers’ recent unilateralism. Disclaimer The views in this chapter are those of the author and not the National War College, the U.S. Department of Defense, or any other U.S. government entity.

References Auerswald, D. (2019a). China’s multifaceted arctic strategy. War on the Rocks, May 24, 2019. https://warontherocks.com/2019/05/chinas-multifaceted-arctic-strategy/. Auerswald, D. (2019b.) Now is not the time for a FONOP in the Arctic. War on the Rocks, October 11, 2019. https://warontherocks.com/2019/now-is-not-the-time-for-a-fonop-in-the-arctic/. Barber, L., Foy, H., & Barker, A. (2019). Vladimir Putin says liberalism has become obsolete. Financial Times, June 27, 2019. https://www.ft.com/content/670039ec-98f3-11e9-9573ee5cbb98ed36. Bennett, M. (2010). Arctic Ocean foreign ministers’ meeting: Reactions. Foreign Policy Association, April 1. http://foreignpolicyblogs.com/2010/04/01/arctic-ocean-foreign-ministers-meetingthe-fallout/. Accessed March 10, 2010. Bildt, C. (2019). Europe risks irrelevance in the age of great power competition. Financial Times, July 19, 2019. https://www.ft.com/content/c4f8d89c-a898-11e9-90e9-fc4b9d9528b4? desktop=true&segmentId=7c8f09b9-9b61-4fbb-9430-9208a9e233c8#myft:notification:dailyemail:content. Bloom, E. (1999). Establishment of the Arctic Council. Department of State (July). http://www. state.gov/e/oes/ocns/opa/arc/ac/establishmentarcticcouncil/. Accessed March 7, 2016. Borgerson, S. G. (2008). Arctic meltdown: The economic and security implications of global warming. Foreign Affairs, 87(2), 1–5. Breum, M. (2018). How a dispute over China and Greenland’s airports worked its way toward a solution. Arctic Today, June 30, 2018. https://www.arctictoday.com/dispute-china-greenlandsairports-worked-way-toward-solution/. Brummer, K., & Thies, C. (2015). The contested selection of national role conceptions. Foreign Policy Analysis, 11(3), 273–293. Chater, A. (2015). Explaining the Evolution of the Arctic Council. Electronic thesis and dissertation repository, paper 3230. Chivers, C. J. (2007) Russians plant flag on the Arctic seabed. New York Times, August 3, 2007. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/03/world/europe/03arctic.html?_r=0. Accessed 8 March 2016. Coticchia, F., & de Simone, C. (2016). The war that wasn’t there? Foreign Policy Analysis, 12(1), 24–46. Department of Defense. (2019). Report to Congress on the Department of Defense Arctic Strategy (p. 5). Report 0-5064821, June 2019. Dimitriu, G., & de Graaf, B. (2016). Fighting the war at home. Foreign Policy Analysis, 12(1), 2–23. Dodds, K. (2013). The Ilulissat Declaration (2008): The Arctic States, ‘Law of the Sea’, and Arctic Ocean. SAIS Review, 33(2), 45–55. Entman, R. (1989). How the media affect what people think: An information processing approach. The Journal of Politics, 51(2), 347–370. Espersen, L. (2012). The Arctic and climate change, May 6, 2011. In N. Hvidt & H. Mouritzen (Eds.), Danish Foreign Policy Yearbook 2012. Copenhagen: Danish Institute for International Studies.


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Fenge, T., & Funston, B. (2015). The practice and promise of the Arctic Council. Washington, DC: Greenpeace. Freedman, L. (2006). Networks, culture and narratives. Adelphi Series, 45(379), 11–26. Koivurova, Timo, & Molenaar, Erik. (2010). International governance and regulation of the marine arctic. Oslo: World Wildlife Fund. Krebs, Ronald. (2015). How dominant narratives rise and fall: Military conflict, politics, and the cold war consensus. International Organization, 69(4), 809–845. Massie, J. (2016). Public contestation and policy resistance. Foreign Policy Analysis, 12(1), 47–65. Milne R (2019) US provokes fury after blocking Arctic Council statement. Financial Times, May 7, 2019. https://www.ft.com/content/f879ff9a-70ab-11e9-bf5c-6eeb837566c5?desktop=true& segmentId=7c8f09b9-9b61-4fbb-9430-9208a9e233c8#myft:notification:daily-email:content. Mitchell, L. (2009). Georgia’s story: Competing narratives since the war. Survival, 51(4), 87–100. Morris, L., Mazarr, M. J., Hornung, J. W., Pezard, S., Binnendijk, A., & Kepe, M. (2019). Gaining Competitive Advantage in the Gray Zone. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation. https://www. rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR2942.html. NASA. (2007). Record Arctic sea ice loss in 2007. http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view. php?id=8074. Accessed March 10, 2016. Petersen, N. (2011). The Arctic challenge to Danish foreign and security policy. In J. Kraska (Ed.), Arctic security in an age of climate change (pp. 145–165). New York: Cambridge University Press. Politi, J., & Milne, R. (2019). Donald Trump scraps Denmark visit after interest in buying Greenland is rebuffed. Financial Times, August 21, 2019. https://www.ft.com/content/ 80add426-c3aa-11e9-a8e9-296ca66511c9?desktop=true&segmentId=7c8f09b9-9b61-4fbb9430-9208a9e233c8#myft:notification:daily-email:content. Pompeo, M. (2019). Looking North: Sharpening America’s Arctic focus, May 6, 2019. https://www. state.gov/secretary/remarks/2019/05/291512.htm. Pompeo, M. (2019). “Secretary’s Remarks at the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting,” 7 May 2019. Posner, E., & Goldsmith, J. (2000). Moral and legal rhetoric in international relations: A rational choice perspective. Working Paper No. 108. Chicago: John M. Olin Program in Law and Economics, University of Chicago. Ringsmose, J., & Børgesen, B. K. (2011). Shaping public attitudes towards the deployment of military power: NATO, Afghanistan and the use of strategic narratives. European Security, 20(4), 505–528. Schumacher, T. (2015). Uncertainty at the EU’s borders. European Security, 24(3), 381–401. Struzik, E. (2010). As the Far North melts, calls grow for Arctic Treaty, June 14, 2010. http://e360. yale.edu/feature/as_the_far_north_melts_calls_grow_for_arctic_treaty/2281/. Accessed March 9, 2016. Tallberg, J., Sommerer, T., Squatrito, T., & Jönsson, C. (2014). Explaining the transnational design of international organizations. International Organization, 684 (Fall), 741–774. U.S. Geological Survey. (2008). Circum-Arctic resource appraisal. USGS Fact Sheet 2008–3049. http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2008/3049/fs2008-3049.pdf. Accessed January 14, 2016. Wilson Rowe, E. (2018). Arctic Governance. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Young, O. (1998). Creating regimes. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Zellman, A. (2015). Framing consensus: Evaluating the narrative specificity of territorial indivisibility. Journal of Peace Research, 52(4), 492–507.

David P. Auerswald is Professor of Security Studies at the U.S. National War College (NWC) in Washington, DC. He has been on the NWC faculty since the summer of 2001. In that time he has served as Acting Dean of Faculty, Associate Dean of Academic Programs, and as a Course Director for major portions of the NWC curriculum on four separate occasions. Dr. Auerswald has written books and articles on the geopolitics of the Arctic, NATO interventions, and the U.S.

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national security policy process. Dr. Auerswald previously served on the faculty of George Washington University’s Department of Political Science and the Elliott School of International Affairs. He has worked as a congressional staff member on three separate occasions. Dr. Auerswald received his Ph.D. and M.A. in political science from the University of California, San Diego, and undergraduate degrees in political science and English literature from Brown University.

Cooperation in the Cold—The Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement Daniel Lambach

Introduction The Arctic Search and Rescue (SAR) Agreement is a quite remarkable piece of international negotiation. From the first meeting of the Task Force under the auspices of the Arctic Council (AC) in 2009 to the signing of the agreement in 2011 lay less than two years. This is not only an unusually speedy example of multilateral treaty negotiation, it was also a momentous occasion for the Arctic, as Heather ExnerPirot points out: ‘the first legally binding instrument developed under the auspices of the Arctic Council, the intergovernmental forum established in 1996; and the first international legal agreement developed for the Arctic since the Polar Bear Agreement of 1973’ (Exner-Pirot 2012: 195). It came at a time where the AC had come to be seen as slow, inflexible and irrelevant, and where relations between Russia and the United States and its Western allies were starting to worsen. This kind of clean, uncontroversial cooperation is not how relations among Arctic nations are supposed to go, at least if we go by widespread narratives that paint the region as one of conflict and as the site of geopolitical and geoeconomic rivalry (Brosnan et al. 2011). This is not to say that such narratives are wrong—there are many issues where conflicts are clearly visible or at least latent, such as the adjudication of competing continental shelf claims. However, there are also issue areas such as environmental protection, fisheries and shipping where Arctic states cooperate efficiently and quietly (Dodds 2019). Quite evidently, states compartmentalize and refrain from linking disparate issues together (Østhagen 2016b).

D. Lambach (B) Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, Frankfurt, Germany e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 J. Weber (ed.), Handbook on Geopolitics and Security in the Arctic, Frontiers in International Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-45005-2_16



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Conflict narratives rely on explanations focusing on power politics, often from a Neorealist or Strategic Studies perspective. In contrast, Liberal Institutionalist approaches highlight the economic upsides of cooperation, interdependence among Arctic nations, and the role of the AC as a facilitator or even driver of negotiations (see the surveys by Knecht and Keil 2013; and Keil 2014; also Dittmer et al. 2011). This article explores the latter of these approaches to make sense of the unusually smooth negotiation and implementation process of the SAR Agreement. The explanation will also address not just the fact of the Agreement but also why it came about at this specific point in time and in spite of an unfavorable institutional and geopolitical context. A theory of Arctic cooperation therefore needs to account for change. From a Liberal Institutionalist perspective, such change may be explained via changes in relations of interdependence, the institutional framework or from domestic politics. As for interdependence and institutions, there was little change— if anything, prospects for cooperation were actually decreasing. As for the third, SAR cooperation is such a depoliticized issue that there simply is no domestic political debate or pressure around it. Change therefore has to come from elsewhere. The obvious answer is that change is happening in the environment, with global warming ‘opening up’ the Arctic as an economic space. Such climate-driven explanations are fairly popular among Arctic experts and commentators but they sit at odds with more general International Relations (IR) theories of conflict and cooperation where the environment is little more than a static, and mostly unimportant backdrop to politics. This is not to argue for some ‘Arctic exceptionalism’, i.e. that the Arctic can only be understood on its own terms (although there is an argument for that, see Young 1992), but to draw on the Arctic experience to refine our understanding of international politics more generally. The major IR theories, drawn as they are from Neorealism, Liberal Institutionalism and Social Constructivism, are missing an explanatory dimension that really comes to the fore in the Arctic. The material structures of the region, meaning the materiality and geography of the natural and the built environment, are that missing piece. Crucially, this material environment should not be conceived as independent of, or prior to politics. Instead, the environment is tightly enmeshed in international relations, shaping and being shaped by political understandings, practices and discourses about the Arctic (Dittmer et al. 2011; Dalby 2013). In that sense, we should not look at the Arctic as (another) case to test hypotheses derived from some IR paradigm, but ask what we can learn from the Arctic to help us improve IR theory so that we can look at other regions and ask how the material environment matters for politics there. The aim of this chapter is to move explanations for international cooperation towards a more systematic engagement with material issues. To this end, it first offers a brief survey of existing accounts of Arctic cooperation, highlighting their rationalist assumptions and geographic detachment. It then explicates an alternative theoretical approach that supplements existing theories with a material dimension, focusing on how the geographic properties of the Arctic and its existing human infrastructure interact with discourses and practices of Arctic cooperation. The fourth part presents

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the Arctic SAR Agreement as an example of cooperation that can be better explained by including this material dimension in its account.

Explaining Arctic Cooperation The literature on Arctic politics has expanded considerably since the mid-2000s. One strand of this literature has been most concerned with geopolitical conflict risks as major regional powers start to compete for territory and natural resources (Borgerson 2008; Huebert 2010; Kraska 2011). This approach, which Dodds characterizes— somewhat uncharitably—as a ‘nightmarish neo-realist vision of international politics with the central Arctic Ocean as an anarchic space’ (Dodds 2010: 63), has received a lot of attention in the popular media. As a result, articles referring to an ‘Arctic oil rush’, a ‘Great Game’ or a ‘new Cold War’ (a particular favorite among newspaper subeditors) are a dime a dozen, even as actual, overt conflict among Arctic states has, at least thus far, not materialized. Another strand consists of contributions from political scientists, geographers and international lawyers who focus on cooperation in a warming Arctic. Their accounts of why Arctic states cooperate refer to a mix of factors. One is a convergence of interests among Arctic states. Brosnan et al. (2011) compare Arctic strategies of the United States, Canada, Norway, Russia and Denmark issued between 2006 and 2009, respectively, and identify several common themes, such as environmental concerns, resource development, sovereignty, governance, scientific research and shipping. They argue that ‘(t)he five coastal Arctic states have incentives to cooperate in all the thematic areas examined in this article and there are opportunities for both collaboration and coordination […]. In each case, a more optimal outcome advancing or preserving the interests of the state may result from cooperation’ (Brosnan et al. 2011, 202), whether using a bilateral or multilateral approach (similarly Haftendorn 2016). Keil broadly agrees with this analysis but cautions that states attach different levels of importance to the Arctic as a whole or to particular issue areas. For instance, she finds that Russia, Canada, Norway and Denmark assign different priorities to sovereignty or economic concerns, while the United States places a lower strategic importance on the region as a whole compared to the other Arctic littoral states (Keil 2014: 164–165). A second explanation attributes cooperation to a dense web of interdependent ties among Arctic states. Of course, such an explanation is not incompatible with the first—interdependence may be a cause of shared interests as much as their result. But this approach takes a more systemic look compared to the domestic-level view offered by the ‘converging interests’ explanation. As a prominent example, Byers (2017) argues that the emergence of complex interdependence in the post-Cold War era explains regional cooperation on a range of issues like the management of transboundary fish stocks, continental shelf claims, shipping safety, access to oil and gas resources, Arctic science, institution-building surrounding the AC as well as


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military cooperation through joint exercises (see also Humrich 2018; Exner-Pirot 2013). Byers buttresses his argument by pointing out how small the effect of worsening Russian-Western relations after the 2014 Crimea invasion has been on Arctic cooperation. A third explanation comes from a more security-minded direction. It argues that great power competition does not preclude cooperation in specific policy areas (‘low politics’) that have little effect on national security (‘high politics’). Østhagen (2016b) uses such an approach to explain coast guard cooperation between Russia and several Western countries which only saw a brief disruption post-Crimea. This kind of sectoral Arctic cooperation between East and West in low-politics areas has a long history, going as far back as the 1970s. Keskitalo describes the Cold War overtures between the Soviet Union and Western states as follows: ‘Cooperation across Arctic areas was thus focused on the civilian rather than on the military or strategic sphere and, in the main, on “soft” values for the area, one being the environment – a concern both at the time and historically’ (Keskitalo 2007: 194). Such a long view also alerts us to a fourth explanation around the role of trust. Through continued interaction, Arctic actors have developed relationships of trust that facilitate agreement and sustained cooperation. Transnational networks among polar scientists, military officers, diplomats, indigenous communities and environmental activists (and sometimes across these groups) have developed a depth and density that is not easily undone. That is why, e.g., Manicom (2011) is cautiously optimistic that even boundary and resource conflicts among Arctic states can be managed if political rhetoric can refrain from incendiary ‘sovereignty’ frames. These explanations clearly have merit. In fact, cooperation in the Arctic often prevails even in difficult times. These difficulties include the question how to manage Russian-Western relations after Crimea. This has been a diplomatic challenge from which Arctic politics could not be entirely insulated. In addition, there are long-standing frames of Arctic conflict that have to be overcome: ‘Harking back to Cold War-era suspicions, analyses of the geostrategic importance of the Arctic often focus on Russia’s relations with the rest of the world and in particular the other Arctic states’ (Bruun and Medby 2014: 917). However, states have often managed to deal with these complications in constructive ways. Converging interests, interdependence, the lower stakes of certain issues and a history of trust-building go some way towards explaining this outcome. States might even seem somewhat more predisposed towards cooperation in the Arctic than they are in other regional arenas. For instance, Wilson Rowe and Blakkisrud point out that the Arctic ‘is well-established in Russian political discourse and foreign policy practice as an international relations “zone” where cooperation, a positive image and stable relations with the “West” are valued’ (Wilson Rowe and Blakkisrud 2014: 67). As a result, most cooperative institutions like the AC and initiatives in areas like shipping, fisheries, science and SAR have survived Crimea and other crises more or less unscathed.

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But the four explanations of cooperation also have two limitations. First, they all take rationalist approaches to cooperation. Only the fourth one, trust-building, is open for mechanisms that move beyond a rationalist paradigm. Rationalist explanations, in addition to Neo-realist takes that provide important correctives regarding the limits of cooperation, usefully highlight a variety of factors that help us understand why Arctic nations cooperate, but by their nature such explanations downplay the role of identities and ideas in policy formulation. This is basically the critique by Knecht and Keil (2013) who survey neorealist and liberal institutionalist accounts of conflict and cooperation in the Arctic and find them both lacking (see also Dittmer et al. 2011; Dodds 2010). They advocate a constructivist explanation of cooperation drawing on critical geopolitics, suggesting ‘that the way actors re-imagine Arctic territory in the wake of the region’s climate change-induced politicisation shapes their foreign policy behaviour and responsiveness to new risks and opportunities’ (Knecht and Keil 2013: 186). In their analysis of US, Canadian and Russian strategies Knecht and Keil find that all states see little contradiction between Arctic sovereignty and national territorial claims on the one hand, and the multilateral governance of issues of common concern on the other. From this we can take that geopolitical discourse, images, narratives and ideas can also help us make sense of Arctic cooperation. The second limitation is that the four explanations make little reference to the geographic characteristics of the Arctic. Again, without wishing to argue for some kind of Arctic exceptionalism, the Arctic is in many ways an unusual space and our explanations of international politics in that space ought to reflect that, even as we try not to exoticize the region. This goes beyond present IR theorizing about cooperation and makes for a richer theoretical approach which is explained in the section.

A Materialist Perspective on Arctic Cooperation This paper argues that rationalist and constructivist explanations do not fully capture the forces driving Arctic cooperation. To explain the puzzle of cooperation, we also have to look at the material properties of the Arctic space and the human activities therein. To explain what I mean by that, I want to first set out explicitly what I do not mean. First, this is not to advocate for any kind of geo-determinism or geopossibilism. Speaking of the material environment may sound like an evocation of tropes associated with classical geopolitics but geography is not destiny. Geography and the environment should not be understood as static but as something dynamic that changes in its relation to human agents and systems (Dalby 2013). Second, I am not interested in theories of assemblages and actor-networks where the agency of humans is conflated with that of things and the networks surrounding them. Instead, my aim is to properly situate the material environment in the complex interplay of spaces, discursive representations, technology and politics.


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We can take the constructivist approach by Knecht and Keil as a point of departure. They write: ‘Our main argument is that in the course of diminishing Arctic ice, the coastal states politicise a yet “geopolitically undefined” region’ (Knecht and Keil 2013: 180). This is a fairly commonplace reading of how climate change affects spatial constructions of the Arctic through localized environmental change, placing ontological primacy on the environment. But the relationship between the two can also be reversed. For example, Dittmer et al. (2011: 202–203) point out that the construction of Arctic space works through the incorporation of the geographic and material properties of the land/seascape into political discourses but that such discourses are selective in which properties they identify as salient. Securitizing and exceptionalizing discourses of the Arctic refer to climate change but this shift in how the Arctic is constructed is driven by political agents selecting discursive frames, not by environmental change itself. This shows how spatial constructions and environmental change in the Arctic go hand in hand. Constructions make reference to the environment but are not necessarily immediate reactions to climate change. Instead, agents select which kinds of change are politically salient (e.g. the opening up of shipping routes or the accessibility of hydrocarbon resources) and which are not (e.g. permafrost collapse or risks to livelihoods of indigenous peoples), and construct the Arctic space accordingly. Albert and Vasilache sum it up well: ‘Neither is the Arctic a region that can be characterized by supposedly “neutral” facts, nor is it amenable to arbitrary social constructions “at will”, so to speak’ (Albert and Vasilache 2017: 6). In other words, the environment places bounds on which social constructions are tenable but there are always many possible interpretations. This entanglement of the physical/material with the social/discursive in geopolitics should caution us against trying to tease apart the various factors involved but rather conceptualize it as an interconnected web of causes which are governed by their ‘intra-actions’ (Squire 2014). Applying this approach to the Arctic, we start with its material properties. In terms of its physical geography, the Arctic is—still—a very difficult environment for human activity. It is a geographically vast maritime domain that is far away from major population centers. It is extremely cold for most of the year, posing a risk for humans and human-made artifacts. Daylight conditions vary dramatically from season to season. These facts were important for traditional geopolitical constructions of the Arctic as a ‘frozen wasteland over which intercontinental missiles might fly’ (Young 1997: 54). With global warming setting off rapid changes in the physical environment of the Arctic, this ‘Arctic wasteland’ construction has been long since retired. Nowadays, a multitude of constructions compete for discursive hegemony (Albert and Vasilache 2017). One of the most prominent of these constructions is of the Arctic as a region of economic prospects, as climate change makes shipping routes, fishing grounds and undersea resources accessible (but see Buixadé Farré et al. 2014). This view of the Arctic is widely shared among political decision-makers and regularly invoked in political discourse.1 1 It

should be noted that this discourse tends to underestimate the inconvenient risks of sea ice becoming more dynamic as the polar icesheet breaks up (Shake et al. 2017)—another example

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Constructing the Arctic as a future site of commercial exploitation directs our attention to the infrastructure necessary to sustain economic activity in the region, such as ports, emergency services or radio communications. In its 2009 Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA), the AC concluded that ‘(w)hen compared with marine infrastructure in the world’s other oceans, the Arctic is significantly lacking throughout most of the circumpolar north’ (Arctic Council 2009: 154). Although the AMSA is a already a decade old by now, this assessment of Arctic maritime infrastructure as being insufficient for the projected growth of human activity still applies. We can break down these deficits in more detail. The first thing to note is the low population density of the Arctic—only about 4 million people live north of the Arctic Circle, with only two cities (Murmansk and Norilsk) having more than 100,000 inhabitants. Such a low population density makes it very difficult to sustain a state presence as the remoteness of the region imposes additional costs. Any asset will be more expensive and more difficult to build, maintain and supply. Qualified personnel may be reluctant to move to the Arctic and will require specialized training to work in extreme weather. Occupational health and providing adequate health care in general are particular challenges in the Arctic (Dudarev et al. 2013). A recurring theme in the AMSA and similar assessments (e.g. Buixadé Farré et al. 2014; Kiiski et al. 2016) is that the present shipping infrastructure of the Arctic is not capable of handling a significantly larger traffic throughput. This includes aspects like port infrastructures as well as maritime traffic control and monitoring. Since Arctic shipping lanes are mostly too far from the infrequent coastal stations, they are in Sea Areas A3 (coverage through Inmarsat geostationary satellites, up to about 70–75° latitude) or A4 (no coverage, beyond 75° latitude) of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, requiring ships to carry specialized communications equipment (Łuszczuk 2014: 47, Fn. 49). This is further compounded by the bad coverage of satellites and other forms of radiocommunications in the region. It was only in 2010 that the Arctic was fully integrated into the World-Wide Navigational Warning System, which is administered by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in collaboration with the International Hydrographic Organization, through the creation of the five Arctic NAVAREAs/METAREAs XVII-XXI. Another vital aspect is emergency preparedness against human and environmental catastrophes. Drewniak and Dalaklis warn that ‘there are vulnerabilities in the capabilities of certain countries within the Arctic region to support safe and secure shipping operations and/or viable development opportunities. In fact, the current state of readiness to respond to incidents related to health emergencies, search and rescue (SAR) operations, and oil spill response is largely untested’ (Drewniak and Dalaklis 2018: 428). Search and Rescue capabilities in particular ‘require specialised equipment and infrastructure that is land-based, such as radar and satellite stations, weather observation or GPS infrastructure, as well as sea-based, such as vessels—in other

how politically motivated framing ‘selects’ which material facts are incorporated into discourse and spatial constructions.


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words, SAR is capacity-intensive’ (Hansen-Magnusson 2019: 11; see also Steinicke and Albrecht 2012). Responses to pollution incidents are also very demanding. Vessels with icebreaking capability are a core technology for many of the aforementioned tasks (Drewniak and Dalaklis 2018: 441). The problem is that most Arctic states only have small numbers of aging icebreakers, with new vessels only recently being commissioned (Moe and Brigham 2017). As a result, there are doubts whether icebreaking capabilities can be renewed fast enough, and if such an investment will even pay off. In models run by Kiiski et al. (2016), shipping along the Northern Sea Route (NSR) will continue to require icebreakers far into the twenty-first century, limiting the economic payoffs from the development of that route. But if upfront investments in icebreaking capabilities are not made, any growth to shipping along the NSR will be sharply curtailed. The NSR is a good example of current infrastructural deficits in the Arctic. Drewniak and Dalaklis highlight a lack of trained crews, a reliable marine traffic system, navigational charts, ice navigation training, port services capable of dealing with shipgenerated waste, and an adequate emergency management system as major issues in need of addressing (Drewniak and Dalaklis 2018: 437). And this is for a route that is entirely controlled by a single country—Russia—so there are not even any of the inefficiencies that are generated by the multilateral governance of a waterway! By way of comparison, Drewniak and Dalaklis describe the infrastructure along the Northwest Passage (NWP) in even more negative terms, calling it ‘extremely underdeveloped’ (Drewniak and Dalaklis 2018: 446), although this is conditioned by the fact that the route has only been reliably navigable for larger ships for a much shorter time than the NSR. In sum, optimistic discourses about the economic prospects of a changing Arctic are inevitably tempered by more sceptical counter-claims referring to the physical (the vast size of the Arctic and the difficult climatic and daylight conditions) and the built environment (the lack of a suitable infrastructure). Where these two discourses meet, they agree on an obvious way forward: If current conditions inhibit economic expansion, then Arctic states need to increase their presence and capabilities (Østhagen 2015: 145) by upgrading ports and communications systems and setting up emergency response infrastructure. Where national efforts are not sufficient to close the capability gap, states need to cooperate to pool their capabilities. That this implication has tremendous political power is evidenced by several multilateral initiatives beyond the SAR Agreement, such as the Arctic Council’s Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response (2013) and the IMO’s International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (2014).

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Hence, the mainstream position tells a tale of economic opportunity hampered by a still-difficult environment. But from a critical perspective in the vein of Dittmer et al., this is a tale of political actors seizing an opportunity to establish a discourse consistent with their economic, political and military goals in the Arctic. From the perspective of this article, it is both and neither: Both perspectives would not work without reference to the material properties of the Arctic environment, its geography and their respective changes. Discursive representations have to correspond somewhat to physical reality and cannot be deployed and evaluated in a detached manner. All these things—the material environment, the physical infrastructure, discourse constructions of space, and politics – are interrelated (see Steinberg 2001: 21–22). If we assume, simply as a thought experiment, that there were an SAR and shipping infrastructure in the Arctic comparable to that of major oceanic traffic lanes in the world, then constructions of the Arctic as ‘vast’ and ‘empty’ would not get much traction. But these constructions still hold and are based on physical geography and a lack of human presence and activity. And now that activity is projected to increase, so do infrastructural needs. This means that (a) both rational interests and self-conceptions of Arctic states point towards cooperation to provide the necessary SAR capacities but (b) that these determinants of state interests cannot be divorced from the Arctic environment and its changes.

The Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement The Arctic SAR Agreement is a good example of this interaction of the environment, discourse and politics. As mentioned above, the Arctic represent a difficult environment for search and rescue operations. The vast distances involved, the harsh climatic conditions, the darkness and the lack of support infrastructure (ports, airstrips, hospitals, communications) are particular challenges (Steinicke and Albrecht 2012: 6–7). Since shipping and tourism are dependent on sufficient SAR capabilities, this area was quickly identified as in need of improvement by Arctic states (Brosnan et al. 2011). But SAR had always been a concern in the region, even before current discourses of the economic potential of the Arctic became predominant. Arctic states had negotiated bilateral and subregional SAR agreements among each other to coordinate SAR in specific parts of the Arctic Ocean long before the Arctic SAR Agreement came about (Arctic Council 2009: 172). Sydnes et al. (2017) discuss the example of the 1995 Norway-Russia agreement covering the Barents Sea which continued a tradition of SAR cooperation between the two countries going back as far as 1956. Takei (2013: 84, Fn. 20) lists no fewer than ten different, mostly bilateral agreements and memoranda among Arctic nations from between 1949 and 1994.


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Given that this patchwork regime was already in place, why did AC members decide to negotiate a comprehensive SAR Agreement at all? First, the issue was clearly gaining salience throughout the 2000s. Russia had pushed for an international agreement on Arctic SAR since 2001, likely to facilitate increased transport through the Northern Sea Route. In 2004, the Arctic Council’s Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) working group commissioned a study that was published in 2009 as the AMSA. In the meantime, improving SAR capabilities was prominently mentioned in the 2008 Ilulissat Declaration of the Arctic Five (A5), where it was explicitly tied to the increased use of Arctic waters for shipping, tourism and resource exploitation. The AMSA provided the ‘political impetus’ (Exner-Pirot 2012: 197) for a SAR agreement. It called for a comprehensive multilateral instrument to pool national SAR capabilities. The AC took note of the AMSA’s recommendations and established a task force to hammer out an agreement at its biannual ministerial meeting in April 2009 (Rottem 2014: 286–287). This task force first met in December 2009, co-chaired by the United States and the Russian Federation. It conducted another four meetings in 2010. ‘The most contentious issue was whether the Arctic SAR treaty should be binding, which the Russians favored to ensure mandatory internal compliance, or non-binding, which the Americans favored to facilitate quicker adoption. Ultimately, the agreement was established as a legally-binding instrument, a year and a half after formal negotiations began’ (Exner-Pirot 2012: 197). The Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic, as it is formally called, was signed by AC members on 12 May 2011 in Nuuk, Greenland. It entered into force on 19 January 2013 upon ratification by all states parties. The reasons for this unusually smooth negotiation and ratification process cannot be pinned down with complete certainty. As discussed above, we can see a strong convergence of interests and shared framings of the problem among all Arctic states. Anton Vasiliev (2013: 56–57), co-chair of the Task Force, highlights the constructive and friendly atmosphere of the deliberations. In addition, the agreement heavily draws on legal templates provided by the IMO’s SAR Convention, Annex 12 of the International Civil Aviation Organization Convention, and article 98 of UNCLOS (Exner-Pirot 2012: 197). Having such established international legal language at their disposal surely made the negotiation process easier for state delegates who were already in broad agreement on the purpose and scope of the treaty. However, we cannot be certain of this, because, as Wood-Donnelly reports, ‘in the case of the SAR Agreement, no negotiation documents exist and most participants in this process were unwilling or unable to make comment on the reason for their nonexistence. The lack of negotiation documents makes it impossible to precisely determine the elements of state interest discussed during the negotiation process’ (Wood-Donnelly 2013: 301). The agreement itself is relatively brief. It consists of 20 articles, an annex and three one-page appendices, and frequently refers to other conventions. Notably, its geographical coverage extends beyond the Arctic Circle. The SAR regions in the Pacific Ocean (for Russia and the United States) and in the North Atlantic (for Canada, Denmark and Iceland) extend south of the Arctic Circle to line up with

Cooperation in the Cold—The Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement


existing SAR regions (Takei 2013: 86–87).2 The aim of the agreement is relatively modest, to improve SAR cooperation in the Arctic: ‘Amongst those efforts specifically encouraged by the agreement are the exchange of information around positions, weather, facilities, training, and experience; arrangement of visits between key search and rescue personnel and joint exercises and training; and the sharing of personnel, equipment, and services in search and rescue operations’ (Exner-Pirot 2012: 198). The Agreement’s main improvement is enhanced collaboration between the national Search and Rescue Agencies identified in Appendix II, but otherwise domestic legislation remains paramount. The process for entering the internal waters of another country remains complicated, still requiring the permission of that country even during emergencies (Art. 8). In terms of content alone, it is hard to dispute Exner-Pirot’s assessment that ‘the agreement itself is not overly impressive’ (Exner-Pirot 2012: 195). But despite its limited practical impact, we should ‘not underestimate the agreement’s symbolic and political significance’ (Rottem 2014: 289). First, the Agreement was the first new legal instrument developed for the Arctic in almost four decades (Exner-Pirot 2012: 195). Second, being the first instrument worked out through the AC, it gave that institution, which had been criticized as slow and inflexible and whose value was called into question by the formation of the A5, a much-needed boost. WoodDonnelly points out that ‘the SAR Agreement was signed at the same Ministerial Meeting at which the Arctic Council provided for a permanent secretariat’, thereby consolidating ‘the council as the central organisation of Arctic international relations’ (Wood-Donnelly 2013: 300). Third, Exner-Pirot (2012) argues that the SAR Agreement matters in terms of confidence-building among policymakers and militaries, prioritizing the diplomatic success over any substantial advance in SAR coverage. In that, we may compare the SAR Agreement to the 2018 Fisheries Agreement, which Dodds characterizes as a ‘starting point for further negotiation over the CAO [Central Arctic Ocean] as an object of interest’ (Dodds 2019: 10). Finally, Rottem points out that the SAR Agreement ‘may increase awareness of the safety challenges in the Arctic’ (Rottem 2014: 289). Since the Agreement has been in force, states have expanded their national SAR capabilities. As for the forms of cooperation stipulated in Art. 9 of the Agreement, implementation has focused on institution-building to deepen and expand contacts among participating agencies, and on holding multinational training exercises. Institutionally, the biggest innovation has been the inauguration of the Arctic Coast 2 States showed considerable flexibility in the delimitation of SAR regions. The SAR regions estab-

lished under the SAR Agreement (see the Agreement’s Annex) mostly conform to existing bilateral treaty lines (Wood-Donnelly 2013: 306). Crucially, Art. 3 (2) of the Agreement states that ‘[t]he delimitation of [SAR] regions is not related to and shall not prejudice the delimitation of any boundary between States or their sovereignty, sovereign rights or jurisdiction’. This allowed states to agree to SAR zones without prejudicing their maritime territorial claims, e.g. ‘in the Beaufort Sea the 141° W meridian is used to divide the Canadian and American SSRs all the way to the North Pole, notwithstanding the on-going dispute between the two countries as to the location of the maritime boundary, while the remote and nearly unpopulated Norwegian island of Jan Mayen is placed entirely within the Icelandic SSR’ (Byers 2013: 277, Fn. 154).


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Guard Forum (ACGF) in 2015. The ACGF brings together representatives from Coast Guards and other SAR agencies from among the eight AC members for an annual meeting, workshops and exercises to strengthen multilateral cooperation and coordination (Østhagen 2016a). It coordinates its activities with the AC, specifically its Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response (EPPR) Working Group. The EPPR has set up, also in 2015, a permanent SAR Experts Group to monitor and promote the implementation of the SAR Agreement. Beyond the AC, SAR cooperation also works through established institutions outside the AC like the Barents EuroAtlantic Cooperation (BEAR) framework and through new, dedicated institutions like the Arctic and North Atlantic Security and Emergency Preparedness Network (ARCSAR). ARCSAR is a network funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 program involving SAR agencies, ship operators and universities from 13 countries to share and disseminate knowledge and research about Arctic SAR. There have been a number of joint SAR exercises under the auspices of the Arctic SAR Agreement (see Sydnes et al. 2017: 119–121; Finnish Border Guard 2017: 29 plus various websites). These are: • Arctic SAR Table Top Exercise (Whitehorse, Canada, 5–6 October 2011) • SAREX Greenland Sea 2012, live exercise involving ships from Canada, US, Russia, Norway, Denmark and Iceland (off Eastern Greenland, 10–14 September 2012) • SAREX Greenland Sea 2013, live exercise involving ships from Canada, US, Iceland and Denmark (off Eastern Greenland, 2–6 September 2013) • Arctic Zephyr, table-top exercise involving all AC countries except Russia (Anchorage, United States, 19–22 October 2015) • Arctic Chinook, US-Canadian exercise with all AC countries observing (including Russia) (Kotzebue, United States, 22–25 August 2016) • Arctic Guardian 2017, live exercise organized by the ACGF involving all eight AC members (off Iceland, 5–9 September 2017) • Polaris 2019, live exercise organized by the ACGF involving all eight AC members (off Finland, 2 April 2019) There are also frequent cooperative exercises outside of the SAR Agreement, such as the biannual ‘Barents Rescue Exercises’ under the umbrella of the BEAR’s Joint Committee on Rescue Cooperation in the Barents Region. There is also a series of Arctic SAR Workshop and Table Top Exercises, held annually in Reykjavik since 2016, initiated by the Association of Arctic Cruise Operators in tandem with coast guards and other SAR responders as well as shipping and cruise companies from Iceland, the Nordic states, Canada and the US. In addition, Norway and Russia have held annual bilateral exercises (‘Exercise Barents’) since the 1980s. Notably, these joint exercises have been held without disruption, whatever the state of relations between Russia and Western states. Even as joint military exercises, such as the long-running biannual US-Russian-Norwegian ‘Northern Eagle’ exercise, were cancelled in 2014, SAR cooperation continued without a hitch. In November 2014, the Russian Kamchatka Border Guard District requested US Coast Guard assistance when a South Korean fishing vessel sank in the Bering Sea, with US ships

Cooperation in the Cold—The Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement


participating in the search for survivors under Russian coordination (Østhagen 2016b: 90). Only at a diplomatic level was Crimea briefly felt, in two instances. First, Canada denied visas to Russian Coast Guard officials for two expert meetings preparing the inauguration of the ACGF in 2014. But even there, normality was quickly restored. Russian delegates were present at further meetings in the United States in 2015, the second of which formally inaugurated the Forum (Østhagen 2016b: 90). Second, Russia, as the only AC member state, declined to participate in the 2015 Arctic Zephyr exercise. Beyond these two instances, Russia and Western powers fence off SAR from other areas of (defence) cooperation. In some cases, there were NATO military exercises in Northern Europe with a clear anti-Russian posture and live SAR exercises involving both Russian and Western agencies within a few weeks of each other. In short, Crimea has had surprisingly little impact on SAR cooperation. On a political level, SAR cooperation is reasonably secure. SAR is well insulated from other issues and AC member states stand behind the agreement. Institutions are in place and states adhere to the agreement. But there are still deficits in practical SAR coverage. For one, there are still significant capability gaps at the national level that require further investment. The number of ship transits is still small and the SAR arrangements have not been put to any great test, but as traffic increases, deficits will start to show. Finally, a survey of ACGF members shows that there are still areas where cooperation can be improved at a practical level. Respondents indicate that information-sharing can be improved e.g. through information sharing platforms connecting different national reporting systems, that there are inefficiencies in the utilization of foreign units during emergencies requiring international cooperation, and that SAR personnel should have more access to cross-national training (Finnish Border Guard 2017: 16–28). So, as much as the SAR Agreement is a political success, there is still much to do before there are sufficient SAR services in the Arctic.

Conclusion The negotiation, ratification and implementation of the Arctic SAR Agreement is one of the smoothest processes of interstate cooperation we are likely to find in contemporary global politics. And there are many factors that made this possible, such as the expected payoffs, the complex interdependence, the ‘low politics’ nature of SAR, and a regional institutional framework. But the explanation would be incomplete without factoring in the specific materiality of the Arctic and the human-built infrastructure. The SAR Agreement was made possible, or even necessary, by a strong disconnect between discourse and the material environment. On the discursive side, all actors follow a script of the Arctic as an emerging economic space, with an increase in shipping throughput and alluring prospects of resource access. On the material side, the Arctic as a natural environment is a very inhospitable space in which to pursue these economic opportunities, and will continue to be so for a long time even as


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climate change continues to break up the polar icesheet. The material infrastructure as it exists today is incapable of sustaining a much higher level of human activity. As a result, states have articulated strong interests to invest into Arctic infrastructure. But given the size of the area, its remoteness, and its low population density, making up the infrastructure shortfall would be very expensive and difficult for any state on their own. That, plus the transboundary nature of many of the resources (including shipping lanes), creates strong pressures to improve cooperation among national SAR services (but see Østhagen 2016a for the limitations of SAR cooperation). This shows how mutually entangled geography, the built infrastructure, discursive constructions and political incentives are. Of course, the SAR case is particularly emblematic of that, and its lessons might not travel well to other issues, such as defence cooperation where Arctic relations are more tightly entangled with global politics. But it seems possible to apply a similar approach to other issue areas with strong spatial and infrastructural components, e.g. natural resource governance, fisheries or environmental protection. Not coincidentally, these are also areas where Arctic states have taken steps to deepen international cooperation, e.g. through the 2013 Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic (under AC auspices) or the 2018 Agreement to Prevent Unregulated High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean (signed by the A5 plus the EU, China, Iceland, Japan and South Korea). At least for these and similar fields, if we seek to disentangle geography, infrastructure, discourse and politics in the pursuit of theoretical parsimony we risk painting an incomplete picture. Instead, we should explore their interconnections in more depth to see how we can bring idealist, rationalist and materialist explanations together. That would go some way towards de-exoticising and de-exceptionalising the Arctic even though this article might seem to suggest the opposite. The Arctic throws the entangledness of space, discourse and politics into sharp relief, allowing us to revise our theoretical assumptions not just about Arctic politics but about international politics more generally. We can see, for instance, that the Arctic is subject to the same process of ‘zoning and routinization’ (Ryan 2015: 571) as other parts of the global ocean (Steinberg 2001). The ‘wild’ Arctic is slowly being transformed into a managed, routinized and governed maritime space. The SAR Agreement is but one of the pieces of this larger puzzle.

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Daniel Lambach is a Heisenberg Fellow at the Cluster Normative Orders at Goethe University Frankfurt, an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Institute for Development and Peace and a Privatdozent at the Faculty of Social Sciences, both at the University of Duisburg-Essen. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Cologne. His research interests are territoriality and political space in the international system, especially the Arctic and the high seas, cyberspace and outer space.

Arctic Geopolitics of Fishing Rebecca Pincus

Introduction: Fishing in the Arctic? Fishing while it has a certain romantic grittiness, lacks glamour. It also is not typically associated with the stuff of high foreign affairs and politics. This chapter will argue the contrary: that fishing is often inextricably linked to high-level foreign affairs, and that nowhere is that more apparent than in the Arctic Ocean and its adjacent seas. The history of politics in Arctic fishing dates back hundreds of years, to the whaling era. The Svalbard (Spitsbergen) archipelago saw action during the War of the Grand Alliance (also known as the Nine Years’ War or War of the League of Augsburg, 1688–97), which pitted France against England and Holland. In 1693, a small squadron of French frigates routed the Dutch whaling fleet, which had been caught at Svalbard, in the Battle of Bear Bay (Henrat 1984). Ten years later, during the War of Spanish Succession, another French squadron once again sailed north to attack the Dutch whalers. The squadron “took, ransomed or burned more than forty whaling ships” in Isfjord, notching another victory for the French. As Henrat (1984) observed, in light of the French strategy of targeting the Dutch economy, “from the strategic point of view the Dutch whaling fleet at Spitsbergen constituted, even more than before, a military objective of the greatest importance.” In the twentieth century, the infamous Cod Wars provided unmistakable evidence for the ability of fishing conflicts to escalate to the highest levels of security affairs. In round after round of Cod Wars, Iceland repeatedly linked fishing rights and its dispute with British trawlers to NATO membership and the Keflavik base. These cases, from Svalbard and Iceland, partially reflect the rich natural endowments of the Arctic: the world’s two most important fisheries are located in the Barents and Bering Seas, and the Arctic is an important area for many migratory whale species. The seasonally high productivity of arctic and boreal waters makes R. Pincus (B) US Naval War College, 686 Cushing Road, Newport, RI 02841, USA e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 J. Weber (ed.), Handbook on Geopolitics and Security in the Arctic, Frontiers in International Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-45005-2_17



R. Pincus

them vital to the life cycles of many species. Fishing has been a crucial element of the food security of North American and northern Eurasian peoples for millennia. In the modern era, industrial fishing practices opened the prospect of fishery collapse: the example of Georges Bank, off of Newfoundland and Labrador, demonstrates clearly the ability of unchecked human effort to wipe out even the most robust fishery and ecosystem (AMNH). The lessons evident in Arctic fisheries also, however, tie to global problems of managing common-pool resources like fish in the context of widely-available fishing technology. Arctic examples, along with many others, also reflect the deep connections between fishery issues and the highest levels of national security and foreign policy.1 The following two sections will explore connections between Arctic fishing and geopolitics from two angles: first, how fisheries conflicts can boil up to the highest levels of foreign affairs, and second, how states can use fishing as a domain for gray zone warfare. This top-down and bottom-up analysis illustrates the diversity of connections between fishing and geopolitics at all levels of government. After demonstrating the links between fisheries issues and security, the chapter will argue that the stakes for Arctic fishing have never been higher. Today, fish stocks are responding to warming conditions in the Arctic, as well as the Northern Atlantic and Pacific. They are moving and altering behavior in ways that may disrupt established fisheries. Conflict over Arctic fisheries may be possible—furthermore, fisheries issues may actively or unintentionally intersect with seemingly unrelated security topics. The Arctic Ocean is going through a transitional phase, during which ecosystems are morphing in unpredictable ways. Recognition of the potentially high stakes involved in Arctic fisheries will be important for reducing the likelihood of conflict and competition, as well as protecting these priceless resources.

High-Low Politics in Arctic Fishing A case study will form the basis for this section’s bottom-up focus on how fisheries issues can rise in importance to the highest level of state politics. It is the classic example of the Cod Wars, which shows clearly how fisheries conflicts can escalate— from Icelandic and British fishermen all the way to NATO. In the 1950s and 1970s, Iceland and the UK clashed over fisheries access in a series of conflicts termed the “Cod Wars”. These disputes spiraled quickly: in each round, Iceland was able to use its strategic location and importance to the NATO alliance as a high card that brought it victory. The ability and willingness of Iceland to link fisheries policy directly to NATO membership and US military presence to the Keflavik base demonstrates the importance of fishing, particularly in the context of small coastal states. During the first round of the Cod Wars, the 1952–1956 “Proto Cod War”, the UK responded to Iceland’s expansion of its fishery zone from 3 to 4 nautical miles by 1 For

more on the role of fishing vessels in wartime, see Robinson (2017).

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barring Icelandic fishing boats from landing in UK ports. This economic coercion by the UK backfired, as the Brits “miscalculated the Icelandic character”: Iceland promptly sought out new markets for its fish (Jonsson 1982). At a time of superpower rivalry, Iceland turned towards the USSR, which responded with enthusiasm: in 1953, Iceland became the first NATO nation to sign a long-term trade agreement with the USSR. Understandably, the US responded by also purchasing Icelandic fish products. Power politics in the first round of the Cod Wars was confined to economic attempts by both the US and USSR to gain influence in Iceland through capturing the exports banned by the British (eagerly encouraged by the Icelanders). However, subsequent rounds of conflict saw more explicit linkages. Particularly during the Second and Third Cod Wars, Iceland used its NATO membership and the Keflavik base as powerful bargaining chips to eventually defeat the far more militarily powerful UK. In 1972, the Icelandic government unilaterally declared a 50-mile fisheries zone. A few months later, the UK sent British warships to Icelandic waters in order to protect British fishing trawlers. The Icelandic Prime Minister Jóhannesson began to apply pressure on the American government, seeking American assistance and pressure against Britain. The Icelanders invoked Article 7 of the 1951 US-Icelandic Defense Agreement, initiating a review of US military presence. The prime minister’s spokesman, Hannes Jónsson, even raised the specter of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. As Ingimundarson (2003a, b) observed, there was a “steady erosion of domestic political support for the retention of the base in the Icelandic parliament because of the escalation of the cod war.” As tension increased both on the water and in the war of words, Iceland’s NATO membership itself became tied to the conflict. Into the fray stepped Joseph Luns, the Dutch Secretary General of NATO. Through Luns’ dedicated efforts, the Icelandic and British prime ministers met in October 1973 and hammered out an agreement that resolved the dispute (Ingimundarson 2003a, b). During the Third Cod War (1975–76), following the Icelandic extension of a 200-mile fishery jurisdiction, the British once again sent naval warships to protect British trawlers operating in Icelandic waters. The primary tactic of the British was intentional ramming, while the Icelandic Coast Guard resorted to cutting the trawls off fishing boats. Due to the significant discrepancy in number, size, and capability of the British frigates against the Icelandic coast guard vessels, the Royal Navy ramming campaign sparked enormous backlash in Iceland and beyond. This round of conflict escalated like before, and in February 1976 Iceland broke off diplomatic relations with the UK—creating a real crisis. The third Cod War was resolved in May 1976, following efforts by the Norwegian foreign minister Frydenlund and Secretary General Luns—which were aided by the declaration by the United States and Canada to extend their EEZs to 200 nautical miles in 1977 (Ingimundarson 2003a, b). Given the high cost of the Cod War operations, Hannes Jónsson has described the fish caught by British trawlers operating under the protection of the Royal Naval to be “undoubtedly the most expensive fish ever caught” due to the enormous mismatch between the funds spent on naval protection versus the actual amount of fish harvested (Jonsson 1982). Clearly, the conflict was about far more than fish.


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During the Cod Wars, Icelandic popular and public sentiment turned naturally against the British—but also against the United States, which was seen as failing to help Iceland. Unsurprisingly, the NATO alliance and the US base at Keflavik were drawn in as well. Newspaper editorials asked what good was the NATO alliance, and the American presence, if they were not used to protect Icelanders? Large demonstrations rallied against Britain, NATO, and the US presence: protestors threw rocks at the British embassy, and threw up road blocks outside the Keflavik base (Jonsson 1982). The Cod Wars case study illustrates how fisheries issues can rapidly boil up to the highest levels of political-military affairs. At the time, Iceland’s economy was narrowly based on fisheries exports. As a small state, heavily dependent on a narrow fisheries-based industrial base, it is not surprising that Iceland used every tool at its disposal in its conflicts with Britain, a state that overmatched Iceland in every way. Iceland’s ultimate high card was its NATO membership and the Keflavik base, which was key to antisubmarine warfare during the Cold War. However, the British government’s response is more interesting. The political influence of the British fishing industry, and local pressure from the fishing communities of Hull, Grimsby, and Fleetwood undoubtedly played a role (Steinsson 2016). Broader strategic concerns also led Britain down the path of escalation. Steinsson (2016) highlights the British interests in both naval access and fishing fleet access to a broadly interpreted high seas, and therefore opposition to the steady expansion of sovereign waters (even limited sovereignty as in the EEZ) pursued by Iceland. The repeated dynamics of the Cod Wars demonstrate that Britain failed to develop innovative approaches to a problem that was clearly not going to go away.

Fishing in the Gray Zone This section will take a top-down approach, considering the ways in which states might choose to use fisheries issues as a subtle tool of pursuing national objectives. State manipulation of an ostensibly commercial sector is a classic example of gray zone tactics, or the adversarial use of means below the level of outright war. One definition of the gray zone states that it “is characterized by intense political, economic, informational, and military competition more fervent in nature than normal steady-state diplomacy, yet short of conventional war … small-footprint, low-visibility operations often of a covert or clandestine nature” (Votel 2016). The use of fishing fleets, fishing policy, or fisheries trade as a hidden element of state competition falls within this definition of the gray zone. Top-down interference in fisheries by high levels of government, in pursuit of highpriority foreign policy objectives, can take two forms. Most directly, governments can deploy fishing fleets to conduct operations that advance non-fishing goals. In addition, governments can use fishing and fish policy as levers of influence to pursue non-fish related goals. In each of these dimensions, the linkage between fishing and higherlevel, seemingly disconnected national goals creates challenges for competitor states.

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China’s use of broad-spectrum state power to further geopolitical aims has been widely studied. In the fisheries domain, China presents several complex challenges: its employment of a hybrid fishing fleet-maritime militia; its strategic foreign investment in related industries; and its use of fisheries trade policy as a tool of power. Each of these deserves explanation and analysis in an Arctic-specific context. Conor Kennedy, a leading expert on the Chinese maritime militia, provides a succinct description (2017): “China boasts the world’s largest fishing fleet. A portion of its thousands of fishing vessels … are registered in the Maritime Militia. China’s PAFMM is an armed mass organization primarily comprising mariners working in the civilian economy who are trained and can be mobilized to defend and advance China’s maritime territorial claims, protect ‘maritime rights and interests’, and support the PLA Navy in wartime.” Kennedy and Erickson (2017) note that the militia is kept in an ambiguous, unofficial status that gives Chinese military leadership “great leeway” to deploy fishing vessels with “freedom to act in ways that would otherwise tarnish the PLA’s professional image and heighten escalation risks.” For example, in 2014 a Vietnamese fishing vessel was rammed and sunk by a Chinese vessel, after being swarmed by 40 Chinese vessels (BBC 2014). Using advanced vessel-detection tools, Gregory Poling has concluded that the Chinese fishing fleet around the Spratly Islands “spends far less time fishing and far more time at anchor than is typical” and is massively over-capacity in terms of vessel size and concentration. Poling (2019) characterizes the fishing fleet-maritime militia as spending most of its effort “engaged in paramilitary work on behalf of the state rather than the commercial enterprise of fishing”. The use of hybridized fishing fleets provides state governments with a broader spectrum of options to pursue objectives. The plausible deniability of operations conducted by fishing fleets may provide cover for actions beyond the constraints on traditional armed naval forces. In a competitive maritime domain, the fishing fleet may be a willing actor in hybrid warfare. As one Vietnamese fisheries leader put it to a journalist (Reed 2019), “Vietnamese fishermen fish for their livelihood and to affirm the sovereignty of Vietnam.” In an Arctic context, are concerns over hybrid fishing fleet-maritime militia operations valid? There is little reason to believe that the type of conflicts that have broken out in the South China Sea over sovereignty claims will emerge in the Arctic. Maritime boundaries are settled and all states have pledged to work through existing UNCLOS processes to resolve disputes. However, the possibility of gray zone conflicts over extended continental shelf resources or fisheries cannot be ruled out. Around the world, China’s pattern of strategic investment in infrastructure and commercial opportunities has received scrutiny. While thorough discussion is outside the bounds of this chapter, it is important to note that fishing industries are important to several Arctic coastal states, including Iceland, Norway, and Greenland (Denmark). The Chinese market for Greenlandic fisheries products is so strong that Royal Greenland, the state-owned fisheries corporation, hired in labor from China to staff a fish-processing plant in Maniitsoq in 2017 (Bennett 2017). Overall, the Asian market comprises one-third of Royal Greenland’s sales (Royal Greenland 2018).


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The Chinese government has demonstrated its willingness to use fishing trade policy as a weapon in its pursuit of unrelated objectives. In the context of Chinese market presence in fisheries industries in Arctic countries, as well as investment in those industries, Arctic fishing countries may be vulnerable. The Norwegian salmon example provides a troubling illustration of the potential outcomes of such vulnerability. In 2010, the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China” (The Nobel Prize 2010). Following the award, China retaliated against Norway with a range of countermeasures, including a ban on Norwegian salmon imports. China’s food safety agency, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine, froze salmon imports on the grounds of alleged food safety problems. As an analysis from Brookings notes (Zhang 2019), this was a highly symbolic counterattack on a “national symbol” of Norway that came at a low cost for China itself. The Chinese market for salmon remained closed to Norway for six years, until December 2016, when the two countries reached agreement to re-normalize relations (Chan 2016). Norway paid a high price to re-enter the Chinese salmon market—a joint statement with remarkably frank and concessionary language: The Norwegian Government fully respects China’s development path and social system, and highly commends its historic and unparalleled development that has taken place. The Norwegian Government reiterates its commitment to the one-China policy, fully respects China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, attaches high importance to China’s core interests and major concerns, will not support actions that undermine them, and will do its best to avoid any future damage to the bilateral relations. (Government of Norway 2016)

This example illustrates the potential risks for small states of over-dependence on Chinese markets, as well as the ways in which fish policy can be mobilized in pursuit of much higher-level foreign policy objectives. This section has examined the ways in which higher-level state interests may be expressed through fishing, whether through the mobilization of fishing fleet militias to achieve non-fishing objectives, or through the use of retaliatory fish import restrictions to pursue political goals. These are both active uses of fishing for geopolitical aims. However, states can also send passive signals through fishing. A good example is the tacit permission granted by state governments for illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. IUU fishing is a global crisis. A National Intelligence Council memorandum (2016) stated bluntly that global fisheries “face an existential threat” from poor management, including IUU fishing, which is responsible for 15–30% of all global fish catches. Global Initiative developed an IUU Fishing Index, which assesses states’ vulnerability, prevalence, and response to IUU fishing. Many of the Arctic states score well on this index, but Russia is ranked 4th-worst. In addition, China is the lowest-ranked state. While China has recently taken some steps to curb IUU fishing, its commitment has been questioned (Chun 2018). The Ministry of Agriculture now publishes a blacklist of distant-water fishing vessels that are punished with temporary bans and fuel subsidy cutbacks. However, observers note that the Chinese distant-water fishing

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fleet continues to grow, supported by generous fuel subsidies. China has not yet signed onto the global Port States Measures Agreement, a key agreement that supports counter-IUU enforcement. It appears that Chinese IUU fishing is likely to remain a significant global problem. North Korea also demonstrates state support for illegal fishing operations. In 2014, reports emerged of a nearly “four-fold increase” in the number of illegal North Korean squid boats poaching in Japanese waters—many of which bore marking indicating that they belonged to the North Korean military (Firn 2014). North Korean IUU squid fishing is creating tension with Japan, and also with Russia. In September 2019, the crew of a North Korean fishing vessel opened fire on a Russian border guard vessel, which returned fire (Stupachenko 2019). The Russian Border Guard detained the fishing boat, arresting 161 fishermen. In addition to squid, North Korean IUU fishing includes crabs and sharks, and uses banned and highly destructive fishing practices like drifting gill nets, thread nets, and cutting crab traps. Russian efforts to pressure the North Korean government to end its support for this IUU fishing, which includes providing fuel and permission to leave port, without success (Stupachenko 2019). North Korean intransigence has stymied both Japanese and Russian coast guards and governments: while official North Korean statements express a commitment to cracking down on IUU fishing, the activity continues unabated. These considerations may raise concerns about the central Arctic fishing moratorium. The moratorium, which was signed in 2018, will prevent fishing in the central Arctic Ocean, beyond the extended economic zone of Arctic coastal states (Sevunts 2019). The agreement was signed by the five Arctic coastal states as well as major distant-water fishing states, including China, Japan, Korea, and the European Union. The moratorium provides for a temporary ban on fishing while scientific research is conducted in order to establish a sound management regime and regional fishery management organization. Enforcement of the Arctic fishing moratorium would be extremely challenging. As a result, the effectiveness of the moratorium is largely dependent on its goodfaith enforcement by signatory states to prevent their fishing fleets from illegally harvesting in the central Arctic. China’s ongoing tacit permissiveness towards IUU activity by its fishing fleet raises questions about its commitment to safeguarding Arctic fisheries. While North Korean IUU fishing also is clearly state-sanctioned, it is doubtful that the North Korean fleet would travel to the Arctic, although that possibility should not be ignored. This concern points to a larger complication relating to Arctic fisheries: the significant uncertainty about the location and characterization of fish populations. Arctic warming is rapidly altering the composition of local ecosystems, raising many questions about the future of fishing in the region.


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Migrating Fish Stocks in the Arctic To complicate the political battles over fish still further, climate change is driving confusing and alarming changes in where and how fish live. These changes are taking place in and around the Arctic Ocean basin, where warming waters have disrupted accustomed patterns of fishing incredibly quickly. Scientists are still struggling to understand the changes taking place in Arctic and near-Arctic marine ecosystems. The drastic warming that is occurring in the Arctic, which is advancing faster than many models had predicted, is driving upheaval in the marine zone. Oceanographic changes are intersecting with Arctic geography: while the Bering Strait is an important chokepoint, the Barents Sea is relatively open to the North Atlantic and is undergoing a process of “Atlantification” at a rapid pace. While the term Atlantification refers to the oceanographic conditions of the Barents, the term “borealization” is used to refer to the changing marine ecosystem and functional traits of marine species found in the Barents (Frainer et al. 2017). Recent studies have found significant movement of boreal fish species (sub-Arctic) into Arctic waters, driven by warming temperatures and decreased ice extent. Boreal fish species tend to be larger, pelagic, more omnivorous, and faster-growing than arctic species. The movement of boreal species into arctic waters is described as having “profound consequences” for the functioning of Arctic marine ecosystems (Frainer et al. 2017). Change in the physical-environmental domain drives change in species assortment and distribution. However, there is tremendous uncertainty about the pace and extent of change. Some Arctic and near-Arctic species are already altering their locations in response to changing conditions. For example, the movement of cod north and east into waters that were previously too cold for their survival has seen year-on-year changes. Recent research (Årthun et al. 2018) has found a robust and predictive relationship between inflow of warmer Atlantic waters to the Barents and the population of Barents Sea cod (also known as Northeast Arctic cod). As Atlantic water flows north into the Barents, the boreal species of cod follows it on a time lag of 2–4 years. Environmental change is not simple warming: Arctic Ocean waters are also becoming more acidic as they absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. The Arctic Ocean is “particularly vulnerable” to the effects of dissolved CO2 , which reduces the availability of calcium carbonate and thereby threatens calcium-fixing species like shellfish and mollusks (Haug et al. 2017). Growing ocean acidification, which is a particular problem in the Arctic Ocean, threatens to weaken shelled organisms like clams and crabs, and could thereby disrupt the life patterns of species that feed upon them, like walrus—in additional to threatening the fisheries for those shelled species. It is important to note that other marine species will be migrating northwards into Arctic waters as well, including marine mammals like killer whales, harbor porpoises, and temperate whale species (Haug et al. 2017). New arrivals are likely to compete with Arctic species, and possibly to predate on them. New arrivals may also bring in parasites and diseases.

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The movement of fish stocks creates complicated and difficult questions. These are not simply questions of science, as complicated as that is by itself—these are also questions of fairness. For example, if a regulated fishery exists for a specific species in a specific area, and those fish move to the north, should that fishery move north with them? What if the fish move across national borders into another state’s waters? Should the people who have been harvesting those fish still be able to fish, or should they lose their access to the resource? Fisheries are not unlimited resources: in general, people are not allowed to harvest as many fish as they would like. Therefore, questions of access are highly contentious. The ecosystem changes driven by climate change are therefore creating winners and losers in a zero-sum context in which livelihoods are at stake. It is already possible to sense the political battles that follow from migrating fish stocks. Conflicts are possible between states, as fish cross political boundaries, but also among different fishing fleets. In the Bering Sea, the center of the commercially important pollock fishery has been moving northwards at 18 miles per year since 2012 (Bernton 2019). The pollock are moving closer to the US-Russia maritime boundary, raising fears among US fishing boats that the pollock will move into Russian waters. Cod are also moving northwards in the Bering, and feeding on king crab—another important market species. In the North Sea-Greenland Sea-Barents Sea region, warming waters drew mackerel and herring populations north, from Scottish waters into areas around Greenland, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands. After Iceland and the Faroes set their own catch limits (mackerel for Iceland, herring for the Faroes) much higher than agreed-upon limits, pointing to the increasing populations of these fish, the EU responded by imposing sanctions (McDonald-Gibson 2013). The ‘mackerel war’ eventually was resolved by multilateral negotiations, but not until the Faroe Islands had brought suit against the EU at the WTO and UN. More disputes should be expected to follow the mackerel and herring wars, as climate change continues to disrupt arctic and boreal ecosystems, with profound implications for the fisheries associated with them.

Conclusion This chapter has argued that, far from being an innocuous area of ‘low politics’, fishing and fisheries issues have the potential to connect directly with high-level geopolitics, including national security. Linkages between fisheries issues and highlevel politics can happen in multiple ways, including both ‘bottom-up’ emergence of fisheries conflicts at high levels of foreign policy, as well as ‘top-down’ deployment of fisheries conflicts by state governments to accomplish high-level objectives. The potential for fisheries conflict is only growing in the Arctic and Arctic-adjacent regional seas, as climate change is rapidly reshaping the nature of marine ecosystems. The governments of Arctic coastal states, as well as the major fishing states and


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European Union, should devote close attention to the emerging problems of Arctic fisheries in order to prevent conflict from emerging, from both bottom-up and topdown directions.

References Årthun, M., et al. (2018). Climate based multi-year predictions of the Barents Sea cod stock. PLoS ONE, 13(10), e0206319. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0206319. BBC. (2014, May 27). Vietnam boat sinks after collision with Chinese vessel. https://www.bbc. com/news/world-asia-27583564. Bennett, M. (2017). China sends seven workers to Greenland to process fish. Cryopolitics. http://www.cryopolitics.com/2017/06/01/china-sent-seven-workers-to-greenland-to-processfish-now-what/. Bernton, H. (2019, September 15). As Bering Sea ice melts, Alaskans, scientists and Seattle’s fishing fleet witness changes ‘on a massive scale’. The Seattle Times, Local News. https://www. seattletimes.com/seattle-news/as-bering-sea-ice-melts-nature-is-changing-on-a-massive-scaleand-alaska-crab-pots-are-pulling-up-cod/. Chan, S. (2016, December 19). Norway and China restore ties, 6 years after nobel prize dispute. The New York Times. Europe. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/19/world/europe/chinanorway-nobel-liu-xiaobo.html. Chun, Z. (2018). China cracks down on illegal fishing in distant water fleet. The Maritime Executive. https://www.maritime-executive.com/editorials/china-cracks-down-on-illegalfishing-in-distant-water-fleet. Firn, M. (2014, November 28). North Korea’s military orders surge in squid poaching. The Telegraph. World News. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/northkorea/11259846/ North-Koreas-military-orders-surge-in-squid-poaching.html. Frainer, A., et al. (2017). Functional biogeography and climate change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(46), 12202–12207. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1706080114. Government of Norway. (2016). Statement of the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of the Kingdom of Norway on normalization of bilateral relations. https:// www.regjeringen.no/en/aktuelt/normalization_china/id2524797/. Haug, T., et al. (2017). Future harvest of living resources in the Arctic Ocean north of the Nordic and Barents Seas: A review of possibilities and constraints. Fisheries Research, 188, 38–57. https:// doi.org/10.1016/j.fishres.2016.12.002. ISSN 0165-7836. Henrat, P. (1984). French naval operations in Spitsbergen during Louis XIV’s reign. Arctic, 37(4), 544–551. Ingimundarson, V. (2003a). A western cold war: The crisis in Iceland’s relations with Britain, the United States, and NATO, 1971–1974. Diplomacy and Statecraft, 14(4), 94–136. Ingimundarson, V. (2003b). Fighting the Cod Wars in the Cold Wars: Iceland’s challenge to the Western Alliance in the 1970s. The RUSI Journal, 148(3), 88–94. https://doi.org/10.1080/ 03071840308446895. Jonsson, H. (1982). Friends in conflict: The Anglo-Icelandic Cod Wars and the Law of the Sea. London: C. Hurst and Company. Kennedy, C., & Erickson, A. (2017). China Maritime Report No. 1: China’s Third Sea Force, The People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia: Tethered to the PLA (CMSI China Maritime Report No. 1). https://digital-commons.usnwc.edu/cmsi-maritime-reports/1. McDonald-Gibson, C. (2013, July 31). Climate change launches ‘mackerel wars’. Salon. https:// www.salon.com/2013/07/31/europe_battles_over_mackerel_wars%E2%80%9D_partner/. National Intelligence Council. (2016). Global implications of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. https://fas.org/irp/nic/fishing.pdf.

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Poling, G. B. (2019). Illuminating the South China Sea’s dark fishing fleets (CSIS, Stephenson Ocean Security Project). https://ocean.csis.org/spotlights/illuminating-the-south-china-seasdark-fishing-fleets/. Reed, J. (2019). The fishing battle on the front line of Beijing’s ambitions. OZY. https://www.ozy. com/fast-forward/the-fishing-battle-on-the-front-line-of-beijings-ambitions/92282/. Robinson, R. (2017). A forgotten navy: Fish, fishermen, fishing vessels and the Great War at sea. Journal for Maritime Research, 19(1), 47–61. Royal Greenland. (2018). Annual report (p. 14). https://www.royalgreenland.com/globalassets/ annual-report-2018/annual-report-2018.pdf. Sevunts, L. (2019, August 27). US ratifies moratorium on fishing in High Arctic seas. The Barents Observer. https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/arctic/2019/08/us-ratifies-moratorium-fishinghigh-arctic-seas. Steinsson, S. (2016). The Cod Wars: A re-analysis. European Security, 25(2), 256–275. Stupachenko, I. (2019, October 30). North Korean illegal fishing causing headaches for Russia. SeafoodSource. https://www.seafoodsource.com/news/supply-trade/north-koreanillegal-fishing-causing-headaches-for-russia. The Nobel Prize. (2010). Liu Xiaobo. https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/2010/xiaobo/facts/. Votel, J. L., et al. (2016). Unconventional warfare in the gray zone. Joint Force Quarterly, 80(1st Quarter). https://ndupress.ndu.edu/JFQ/Joint-Force-Quarterly-80/Article/643108/ unconventional-warfare-in-the-gray-zone/. Zhang, K. V. (2019). Chinese non-military coercion—Tactics and rationale. Brookings. https:// www.brookings.edu/articles/chinese-non-military-coercion-tactics-and-rationale/.

Dr. Rebecca Pincus is assistant professor in the Department of Strategic and Operational Research (SORD) at the U.S. Naval War College. The views and opinions presented here are her own and do not represent the official position of the Naval War College, U.S. Navy, or Department of Defense. Dr. Pincus previously served as primary investigator at the US Coast Guard’s Center for Arctic Study and Policy, where she executed research-based projects for the Coast Guard on a range of polar topics. She was a Fulbright Fellow in Iceland in 2015 with the Icelandic Ministry of Foreign Affairs, working closely with the Icelandic Coast Guard and teaching at the University of Iceland. Her work has appeared in Polar Journal, Polar Geography, War and Society, War on the Rocks, Proceedings, and more. In 2015, Yale released Diplomacy on Ice: Energy and the Environment in the Arctic and Antarctica, co-edited with Dr. Saleem Ali. Dr. Pincus completed her PhD in 2013 at the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of the Environment and Natural Resources, including a M.S. in 2010. She also holds a M.S. in Environmental Law from the Vermont Law School (2011).

The Svalbard “Channel”, 1920–2020—A Geopolitical Sketch Roald Berg

Introduction Willem Barents discovered the Spitsbergen archipelago in 1596 (McCannon 2018: 22).1 His discovery introduced human activity on the uninhabited islands. The fjords around the islands became the scene of international competition on the whale fields as well as for sovereignty. During the nineteenth century, whale stocks around the islands were decimated. The islands fell out of the geopolitical radars. The archipelago was regarded as terra nullius, “no man’s land”, according to diplomatic consensus after the foreign minister of the Swedish-Norwegian union in 1871 aired the question diplomatically of introducing Norwegian sovereignty over the islands to protect Swedish commercial interests there.2 Thereafter, only a few Norwegian hunters took advantage of the resources in the huge but uninviting ice archipelago. However, this changed after the discovery of natural resources on the islands, not only in its coastal areas, triggering new competition. At the beginning of the twentieth century, coal deposits attracted mining investors and miners in such numbers that a need arose for law and order to solve clashing interests. The Spitsbergen Treaty of 1920, under which Norway was given sovereignty over the Spitsbergen archipelago, including Bear Island, addressed this need. In 1925, Norway assumed sovereignty and re-baptised the archipelago with the Norse name 1 On

Svalbard’s political and diplomatic history, see also Mathiesen (1954; Arlov 1994, 2007 [1996]). 2 Russia, as well as the other great powers, vetoed any change of the status of the islands as a “no man’s land”, see (Berg 2017: 22f). The Russian veto has been interpreted as a Russo-Norwegian “Agreement” on condominium (Rossi (2018 [2017]: 150f); see even Vylegzhanin and Zilanov (2007): 6f). Such agreement is unknown in the standard account of Norwegian foreign politics, see Kaartvedt (1995): 321. R. Berg (B) University of Stavanger, Stavanger, Norway e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 J. Weber (ed.), Handbook on Geopolitics and Security in the Arctic, Frontiers in International Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-45005-2_18



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Svalbard (Hereafter the treaty is therefore referred to as the Svalbard Treaty of 1920, not the Spitsbergen Treaty.) Costly transportation of the coal to the European markets caused the abandonment of most mines. From the 1930s, Norway and Russia have been the only mining nations in the archipelago (Arlov 2007 [1996]). The basis for Norwegian sovereignty, as well as for the Russian presence, was coal (Nielsen 2014: 443f). For the Russians, the mining was also a cover for a permanent presence at the entrance of the Barents Sea. The Spitsbergen archipelago was said to be “the gateway to the Kola peninsula, home to the Russian Northern Fleet” during the Cold War (Rossi 2018 [2017]: 165). This was also the geopolitical perception much earlier. In 1909, the chief of staff of the Russian Navy urged the Foreign Department to prevent any foreign power from gaining sovereignty of the archipelago, especially Norway, since this could imply the risk of closing Russian access to and from the Atlantic Ocean. Norway was especially dangerous because Britain would assume control of the fairway between Norway and Spitsbergen “owing to her influence over Norway […] just as she would not hesitate to set up naval bases in the Norwegian fjords” (Holtsmark 2004: 13f). The Russian fear of foreign command of the gateway to and from her northern regions may be summed up in one word: It was regarded as a “strait” between Svalbard and the mainland of Norway (Pedersen 2011: 122). The theme of this chapter is the corollary of the entrance to Northern Russia—the Spitsbergen/Svalbard “strait”—for the relationship between sovereign Norway and Russia on Svalbard after 1925. The chapter will demonstrate how the Svalbard “strait” had, and still has, a geopolitical location that is reflected in global great power politics and conflicts (Rossi 2018 [2017]; Pedersen 2011). Svalbard’s strategic situation may illustrate, more generally, how international relations tend to change in relation to changes in the use of nature, and even to the changes in the political geography (Berg 2014). A short glance at some of the details of the discovery of the islands in 1596 and of the coal age beginning at the turn of the nineteenth century shows, on the other hand, a high degree of geopolitical continuity of Spitsbergen/Svalbard. Regardless of the rise and fall of the one or the other of the great powers, the archipelago attracted utilisers of its natural resources, which caused antagonism that developed into international power struggles (Berg 2013). From the time of its discovery, the history of Svalbard has been associated with the exploitation of natural resources (Rossi 2018 [2017]: 150).

From “Spitsbergen” to “Svalbard” Barents discovered Spitsbergen on an expedition to sail through the Northern Sea Route between Europe and Asia, also referred to as the Northeast Passage (Rothwell 2015: 119). The aim was to secure exclusive Dutch rights to a future trade route between the West and the East, even supported by fortresses (Degroot 2018: 58). Though the first successful voyage through these icy waters was not accomplished

The Svalbard “Channel”, 1920–2020—A Geopolitical Sketch


before the end of the 1870s, Barents’s expeditions between 1594 and 1597 “revolutionize[d] European understandings of the Arctic”, opened the Spitsbergen fields for whale and walrus hunting, and established them as a “frontier in a global struggle between governing European empires” (Degroot 2018: 73–79). This was followed by almost oblivion after the extermination of the whale during the nineteenth century (Avango et al. 2011: 30–32). Only a few Russian and Norwegian hunters remained in the “no man’s land”, most of them only during the summer season. During the nineteenth century, however, even Swedish scientists made expeditions to the arctic islands, followed by Norwegian scientists from the beginning of the twentieth century; some of them had both political and economic ambitions (Berg 1995: 152; Wråkberg 1999; Drivenes 2004: 177, 204). In general, the islands did not attract political interest from any powers except the minor Scandinavian ones and Russia. Discovery of coal deposits towards the end of the nineteenth century created interest and the re-appearance of the islands into world politics, as well as colliding claims (Avango 2018: 50).3 In 1899, a German explorer and adventurist claimed Bear Island as a territory of the German Empire to establish a base for fishery, whaling and mining. A Russian warship forced him to give up his occupation of the territory (Barthelmess 2009; Nielsen 2014: 432). Moreover, just as Africa was discovered by wealthy tourists, even Spitsbergen became a tourist destination. Some of the tourists in the Spitsbergen fjords even shot polar bears from the deck of their ships. One of the tourists, an American mining millionaire, John M. Longyear, observed minerals during his encounter with Spitsbergen in 1901. He returned with some coal samples which were assayed in the USA. In 1906, he established a coal mining company that originally was to provide coal to a prospected iron ore mine at Varanger on the border with Russia (Avango 2018: 51; Berg 2017: 26f; Hartnell 2009). Other British, Dutch and Scandinavian mining companies followed (Avango 2005; Kruse 2013). This made Spitsbergen an Arctic Klondyke, free and lawless as in the nineteenth century, and once more a geopolitical central area (Avango 2018: 63). Conflicts followed between mining investors over overlapping claims and between workers recruited from the nearest land, Norway, and their foreign foremen, as well as between a growing number of tourists shooting the polar bears from their cruising ships. All pointed to the need for law and order and thus an end to the archipelago’s status as terra nullius. In 1907, and again in 1917, Britain considered meeting requests from British businessmen, suffering at the hands of striking miners, to take control by annexing the islands. However, the Foreign Office refused to follow the requests since the naval importance of the islands for the Empire was minimal. They commanded no trade routes, were without an ice-free port, and were not suited as a military base area for Britain (Kristiansen 1988: 157; Ingimundarson 2018: 896). After the British dismissal in 1907, the mining company that had raised the question of annexation asked the Norwegian foreign ministry to assume sovereignty and thereby introduce law and order. A leading London newspaper even regarded it as natural that Spitsbergen should be a Norwegian territory (Berg 1995: 154). Norway,

3 See,

however, Capelotti (2000: 42) on British reports on coal already from 1610.


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recognised as a sovereign state after the dissolution of the Norwegian-Swedish union in 1905, was not un-interested. In 1910, 1912, and 1914, the Norwegian government convened international conferences to organise some kind of rule on the islands, in which Norway would have a leading role. Russia and Sweden launched alternative ideas for condominium with Norway (Berg 1995: 157–172; Eide 2019: 129–150). In 1910, the American Senate voted to annex the American coalfields to prevent others from forcing them out, but the House of Representatives and the President quickly dismissed this idea due to the Monroe doctrine (Berg 2017: 30; Singh 1980: 36–40). In the end, the American Secretary of State, Robert Lansing, solved the case by leading the negotiations that concluded with the Svalbard Treaty at the Paris Peace Conference in 1920. After Germany and Russia, who had been excluded from the conference, had accepted the treaty, Norway took possession of her new province in 1925 (Berg 1995: 287–293, Østreng 1974, passim; Drivenes 2004: 198f).4 The Svalbard Treaty was the solution to “a unique international problem”, as Robert Lansing called the terra nullius Spitsbergen. Lansing’s motive to allocate the islands to Norway was to protect American mining investors. Secondly, the American leaders at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919–20 wanted to eliminate the risk of future international conflicts by transferring Svalbard to a neutral state. Norway was a strong candidate for taking on this sovereignty (Berg 2017: 32). Formally neutral, her maritime fleet had served the Entente during the war, resulting in her “neutral alliance” with the Allies (Riste 1965). A huge amount of contraband was shipped both over the English Channel and through the Svalbard “strait” on Norwegian keels. It had its costs, as 2000 seaman lost their lives to German submarine warfare. Norway’s leading diplomatic envoy in Paris claimed that Norway ought to have Spitsbergen as “payment” for her services to the Allies (Berg 1995: 256). The Allies agreed. The consequences of the territorial extension of Norway inherent in the Treaty was that the country became responsible for law and order in a geopolitical problem area in world politics during the twentieth century.

The Svalbard Treaty The Norwegian responsibility for law and order followed from the first article of the Svalbard Treaty. It gave Norway full and absolute sovereignty of the land within 10° and 35° longitude East of Greenwich and between 74° and 81° latitude North appertaining thereto (Ulfstein 1995). The following articles stated, however, that the right to economic utilisation continued to be internationalised as during the previous terra nullius. Any citizen of the signatory powers was to be treated equal (Articles 2, 3, 7 and 8). All signatory powers had “access and entry […] to the waters, fjords and ports of the territories” of Svalbard (Article 3; Nyman et al. 2019). Consequently, 4 On the internal Norwegian history of the Spitsbergen question, see (Berg 1995: 145–177, 265–271,

295–302; Drivenes 2004: 175–202).

The Svalbard “Channel”, 1920–2020—A Geopolitical Sketch


some researchers have misleadingly concluded that the archipelago “is administered by Norway under the terms of the 1920 Svalbard Treaty” (Nyman et al. 2019: 6). However, the Svalbard Treaty does not affect the competence of Norway to rule Svalbard, only how the sovereign rule of the islands should be exercised (Pedersen 2017: 98). Geopolitically, it is nevertheless reasonable to question the Norwegian power to exercise her exclusive sovereignty. Article 9 of the Treaty requests Norway “not to create nor to allow the establishment of any naval base in the territories specified in Article 1 and not to construct any fortification in the said territories, which may never be used for warlike purposes”. Article 9 has therefore been regarded as a demilitarisation clause (Berg 1995: 285, 296; Sollie and Østreng 1977: 654–656). Norway officially dismisses this interpretation. According to the latest Parliamentary Report on Svalbard, the Treaty prohibits all foreign military activities; any such activity “would imply a coarse violation on the [Norwegian] sovereignty”, while Article 9 “is not a prohibition against all military activity” (St. Meld. 32: 21; Wither 2018: 30). Rolf Tamnes claims that the Treaty “allowed a certain military activity at the archipelago, but Norway did not make use of this opportunity” (Tamnes 1991a: 89, note 21, 1997: 100). The major legal specialist on the Treaty, international lawyer Geir Ulfstein, underlines that Article 9 “does not contain a [complete] demilitarisation of Svalbard. The provision sets out specific prohibitions against the establishment of any “naval base” or “fortification” and forbids Svalbard’s use for “warlike purposes” only (Churchill and Ulfstein 2010: 557).5 Other scholars confine themselves to pointing to the prohibition against any use of the archipelago for “warlike purposes” (Pedersen 2008). For Oran Young, the Svalbard Treaty, as well as the Antarctic Treaty, guarantees that both polar areas are international regimes that work practically “with preventing any use of the archipelago for warlike purposes” (Young and Osherenko 1993: 5f). The dean of polar law, Donald Rothwell, sees both treaties as demilitarisation treaties (Rothwell 1996: 71f), which is also the conclusion of this chapter. The general prohibition against using the islands for warlike purposes and the bans against naval bases and fortifications fall well within the international definitions of demilitarising treaties, such as the Aland Islands Treaty from 1856 and 1921 (Hannikainen 1994: 614–616; Gardberg 1995: 88f; Koivurova and Holiencin 2017).6 Neither of the two treaties limit the sovereign state’s right to defend their territories if attacked. Both prohibit permanent military structures, including fortifications. Last but not least, there are no restrictions in the Svalbard Treaty on using power to maintain (or to re-establish) internal peace and order on the islands. The need for 5 Holtsmark claims that it is a linguistic misunderstanding that the English phrase “for warlike purposes” is identical to “demilitarised”, Holtsmark (2015: 667), note 3. 6 Hannikainen states: “D e m i l i t a r i s a t i o n means that no fortifications or permanent military structures may exist within the demilitarised territory. It is the purpose of demilitarisation to contribute to the keeping of the demilitarised territory outside the theatre of war of an armed conflict. However, if an armed conflict breaks out, the State exercising sovereignty over the demilitarised territory is not prohibited from deploying armed troops in the demilitarised territory to ensure its inviolability or defence”, (Hannikainen 1994: 614).


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state authority with power to coerce social disturbance (i.e. striking miners) was the original reason for the American Secretary of State, Lansing, and the other great power leaders to bring an end to Spitsbergen’s status as a “no man’s-land”. In short, the Svalbard Treaty kept terra nullius rights for the citizens of the signaure states, “allowing them to continue economic activities, such as fishing, hunting and mining, and ensured their access to Svalbard’s territorial waters” (Numminen 2011: 8). Norway was both authorized and required to manage the archipelago on the basis of the principle of non-discrimination. This opened the possibility for Norway to carry out an active rule on the islands, in which Norway could reserve huge areas for wildlife and regulate other parts of the islands for mining, as long as all parties were treated equally and protected by the demilitarisation article. This turned out to be necessary for Norway as the sovereign state.

The Special Russo-Norwegian Relationship, 1925–1949 As indicated, the Svalbard Treaty of 1920 was initiated by Robert Lansing,7 signed by the great powers in the Alliance, and by Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Italy, Japan, and of course Norway (Ulfstein 1995: 513). Later, new states such as Germany and the Soviet Union joined the Treaty (Soviet Union became a signatory power in 1935 after the last of the signatory parties, the United States, had recognized it de jure). Currently, forty-three states have ratified the Treaty, including China, North Korea and Afghanistan (https://www.jus.uio.no/english/services/library/treaties/01/ 1-11/svalbard-treaty.xml). During the first twenty years after the Norwegian assumption of sovereignty, only Russia challenged Norway’s sovereignty of the Svalbard Archipelago as companies from other states than Norway and Russia soon gave up their mining projects (Holtsmark 2015: 112f). The reason was the islands’ geopolitical situation. However, even though the Soviet Union’s North Fleet was based in Murmansk from the 1930s, there are no indications that the archipelago reached the attention of the Soviet leadership during the interwar period. In 1937, the Norwegian ambassador to the Soviet Union even reported that foreign minister Maksim Litvinov was uninformed about Russia and Norway being the only coal mining countries in Svalbard (Holtsmark 2015: 115; Holtsmark 2004: 27). The Norwegians themselves pursued laissez-faire politics on the islands (Østreng 1975: 108f; Skagestad 1975: 24). The Russian mining towns, Barentsburg, Pyramiden and Grumant City, therefore developed into self-ruled enclaves (Holtsmark 2015: 115), while Longyearbyen was the Norwegian capital. Ignorance about Svalbard ended after the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. As in the preceding war, access to the North-Western Russian coast from the Atlantic Ocean assumed utmost importance for the belligerents, especially for 7 See though Ingimundarson (2018: 898) on the British role to secure international equality under the Norwegian sovereignty.

The Svalbard “Channel”, 1920–2020—A Geopolitical Sketch


the Soviets. For the first time, this fact was expressed at the top political level in the Kremlin when the foreign minister, Vjatsjeslav Molotov, proposed a joint AngloRussian operation on Svalbard and the Bear Island to his new western allies in 1941 (Jørgensen 2018: 28). The outcome was a Canadian-Norwegian operation to rescue the miners out of the area before the Allies set fire to the mines to prevent the Germans utilising them. Nevertheless, the Germans established bases on Svalbard, threatening the Allies’ lifeline to Northern Russia (Capelotti 2000: 58–61). In 1944, during a visit to Moscow, the Norwegian foreign minister, Trygve Lie, was made clearly aware of the panic this situation had caused in the Soviet Union. The scenario seemed designed to frighten the Norwegians. In the middle of the night, foreign minister Molotov invited his Norwegian guest to the Kremlin. There, Molotov pointed out on a map how the Russian navy was “blocked up” in the Dardanelles, as well as in the Danish sounds. “Only in the north there is an opening, but this war has showed that this connection line can be closed.” Therefore, he demanded that the Svalbard Treaty be annulled, that the Soviet Union and Norway should assume a shared sovereignty of the archipelago, and that Bear Island be “returned to” the Soviet Union (Holtsmark 2004: 45f; Holtsmark 2015: 297–299).8 In 1947, the official telegram news agency, TASS, maintained that Bear Island was “de facto [a] Russian island” (Rossi 2018 [2017]: 165). In April 1945, the Norwegian exile government declared diplomatically that “the defence of the Svalbard islands group is a common affair for Norway and the Soviet Union” (Holtsmark 2015: 299), but refused to cede Bear Island. Two years later, in 1947, when the war was over, a new government in Norway with parliamentary support refused the Soviet claim. The motives behind the Norwegian accommodating attitude to the drastic Soviet claims in 1945 have been discussed vibrantly. The leading expert on the exile government, Olav Riste, has criticized the Norwegian government for not seeking backing from its Western allies before its response to the Soviets (Riste 1979: 333f; Holtsmark 2004: 71–74). However, the Norwegian lack of trust towards the Western allies seems as sensible as their distrust of the Soviet Union. Both were based on historical lessons (Berg 2019). At the time, there were ample reasons for distrust when photographs of Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin at Yalta circulated in the world press. It was reasonable to fear that “the Big Three” were dealing with Norway or Svalbard in the same way as they were dealing with any other small power. Furthermore, the Norwegian government accepted sensibility of the Soviet claims in the light of the experiences during the war (Bones and Jølle, forthcoming: Chap. 6.) After the Norwegian dismissal of the claims in 1947, Trygve Lie, now Secretary General of the United Nations, characterised the Russian claims as “natural endeavours” (Holtsmark 2004: 148). So did the Americans. The United States coordination committee of the navy in war operations noted that the interest of the Soviet Union in acquiring 8 This

dramatic so-called “Svalbard question” is of course one of the best scrutinized details in the history of Norway’s foreign relations. The newest analysis of it is Sven G. Holtsmark’s contributions in (Holtsmark 2004, 2015). See also Olav Riste’s version of the question in (Riste 1979: 324–326). Knut Einar Eriksen’s account (Eriksen 1989: 18) is misleading as there was never a question of Norwegian-Soviet military defence, as he claims, but of a political condominium at Svalbard. See even (Tamnes 1991a).


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military bases in the Spitsbergen Archipelago was “natural in view of the experiences gained in the war respecting the safeguarding of convoys to Murmansk” (Lundestad 1980: 67). Secretary of State, James Byrnes, asserted in July 1945: “If the Russians brought up the question of bases at Spitsbergen, our reply should include United States demands for bases [in Iceland and Greenland]” (Lundestad 1980: 68). The Soviets realised that this was the case. It is therefore reasonable to infer that the Russians wanted to secure themselves against the possibilities of other great powers grasping a stronghold on Svalbard (Sverdrup 1996: 140). As the Americans did not show any interest in securing such bases for themselves, their Russian counterparts did not follow up their Svalbard claims from 1944. The core of the so-called “Svalbard question” in 1944–47 was not primarily a skirmish between the United States and the Soviet Union in the nuclear age. It was rather the geopolitical fact, summed up in a note by Molotov’s adviser, Tatjana D. Zjdanova, in connection with his nightly meeting with Trygve Lie in 1944: Between Norway and Svalbard there was a “channel”. This channel was as important for the Soviets as the more famous Danish one and the Bosporus Straits: “This channel [between Norway and Svalbard] was previously very spacious, but has to a considerable degree been pressed together by the development of aviation”. This northern channel was so important for access to and from Northern Russia that Zjdanova advised her superior that the Soviet Union must claim border revisions westwards in addition to Bear Island and Russo-Norwegian rule on Svalbard (Holtsmark 2004: 53). The same advice came from individuals in the General Staff half a year later, yet even more strongly voiced, that the Soviet Union should demand the right to build military bases in Norwegian territory after the war, both on Svalbard and on the mainland (Holtsmark 2004: 92f). When Norway joined NATO in 1949, any possible Russian dream of westward expansionism towards Norway came to an end. What toned down any hope of a Soviet-Norwegian condominium on Svalbard, however, was first and foremost the ban on bases on Svalbard in the Svalbard Treaty. The core of the Svalbard question in 1944–47 was that the combination of an international agreement from 1920 and the geopolitical surroundings pushed the archipelago out of the area of great power conflicts and thus saved it for Norwegian sovereignty. This may be one reason behind the surprising consequence that the Soviets, after the scary Svalbard incident of 1944, became the staunchest defenders of the demilitarisation clause from the 1950s onwards (Eriksen and Pharo 1997: 65), and therefore of Norwegian sovereignty.

Cold War As Tatjana Zjdanova noted in 1944, long range flying was the new factor that enhanced the importance of the Svalbard channel for Russia (though already in 1928, Amundsen and Byrd had introduced air transport there). The growing importance of aviation in the Arctic was certainly realised by Norway (Sverdrup 1996:

The Svalbard “Channel”, 1920–2020—A Geopolitical Sketch


140), as well as by the great powers. This is the main explanation behind the parallel American base diplomacy towards Denmark, by which the United States achieved bases in Greenland and Iceland. Svalbard was less important as a location for military bases in the age of intercontinental missiles. The islands became more important for intelligence, warnings, and as ports for hiding submarines. Both the Soviets and the Americans were therefore cautious about any sign of military activity on the islands. The Russians primarily protested against any plans for airfields on Svalbard. In the 1960s, the inhabitants of Longyearbyen demanded air connections to overcome their feeling of isolation from home and families in Norway. The Soviet Union protested. Norwegian military authorities warned that an airfield could be conquered by the Russians in a future war and used against Norway and NATO. On the other hand, an airstrip would strengthen Norwegian sovereignty as a substitute for the decreasing value of coal as prices fell (Tamnes 1997: 262–264). After much hesitation, the opening of Svalbard Airport in 1974 marked the transformation of Longyearbyen from a mining town to an almost ordinary Norwegian town with permanent residents, kindergarten, and even a minor university (from 1993). All of these acts of welfare state building resulted in an easier life, even for the Russians in their settlements. At the same time, the unusual situation that several Soviet mining settlements were subordinated to the law and rule of the NATO country Norway, was thereby strengthened (Holtsmark 2015: 571). However, in daily life the Soviets on Svalbard still ruled themselves. As Willy Østreng has noted, Norwegian rule changed from passivity to an energetic period from the middle of the 1960s (Østreng 1975: 110–116). The change was neither abrupt nor unquestionable. In 1971, the government, following enquiries from the Soviets, diplomatically declared that the airport should be used for “solely civilian aviation” (Tamnes 1997: 264). Rolf Tamnes, sceptical to the Norwegian accommodating policy towards the Russians, states that Norway obliged herself to “a new curtailment that confined Norway’s elbowroom in relation to the Treaty” (Tamnes 1997: 264f). In 1974, the Norwegian government went a step further along the same path by refraining from deploying any naval ships to Svalbard during the 75th anniversary of the Treaty (Tamnes 1997: 265). The Soviets, on their side, built a helicopter base at Barentsburg. The Norwegian authorities inspected it in 1978 without finding evidence of any military use. Nevertheless, the Norwegian defence minister stated that the helicopters could be used to occupy Svalbard at any time. Tamnes added that “much points to” the fact that the helicopter base was indeed a military base (Tamnes 1997: 260). What we do know is that both Norwegian, American, and Russian intelligence kept an eye or two on each other (Eriksen and Pharo 1997: 64). Svalbard’s role as a geopolitical hotspot was maintained when the archipelago was incorporated into NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT) in 1951, but at the same time left outside the allied command structure, as the alliance was incapable of defending these remote islands (Tamnes 1987: 24–28, 1991b: 81). This analysis was reiterated as late as at a NATO summit in 2018, in which the Arctic was excluded from those areas regarded as high priority for the alliance (Wither 2018: 36). Therefore Svalbard has been called “NATO’s Arctic Achilles Heel”, vulnerable


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to Soviet pressure in times of international tension (Wither 2018: 34). During the Cold War, the Soviet government nevertheless interpreted this double-edged condition, namely Svalbard inside, but not fully integrated in the NATO defence alliance, as a breach of the demilitarisation clause in the Svalbard Treaty. It allowed “armed forces under American command to make military steps in the area around these islands” (Eriksen and Pharo 1997: 64; Eriksen 1989: 151–154). This was an exaggeration. Neither NATO nor Norway took any steps towards stopping a possible Soviet occupation of Svalbard (Tamnes 1997: 259; Eriksen and Pharo 1997: 64.) Svalbard was, in other words, never the coldest place in the Cold War. There were, however, uncountable minor and several grave crises between Norway and her great neighbouring power. The two most spectacular crises dealt with aviation, or rather flight crashes. In 1977, a Soviet helicopter crashed at Hornsund, southwest of Longyearbyen. The Russians hastily rescued the wreck and thereby removed all traces of possible military misuse, a blunt violation of Norwegian sovereignty (Tamnes 1997: 261). A repetition one year later, the Hopen accident, “developed to be a great format crisis” (Tamnes 1997: 260–262). The Hopen accident took place in August 1978 when a Soviet military plane crashed at Hopen Island. The Russian authorities demanded to save the wreck and the flight recorder. They were allowed to follow the Norwegian rescue personnel’s work, but nothing more. They threatened to land marine forces and simply take away what they wanted. Norway’s foreign minister was resolute. They finally accepted that Norway would lead the rescue operation and that they would only participate as observers in the following accident investigation (Børresen et al. 2004: 42). This was “the culmination of the power game on Svalbard in the 1970s” (Tamnes 1997: 262). The Norwegian foreign minister concluded afterwards that in such situations, “it is good to be a member of a defence organisation” (Tamnes 1997: 44). His own serene diplomacy contributed heavily to consolidating the Norwegian sovereignty by insisting on it. Both the crisis management and the daily neighbourhood in Svalbard are important proofs of the decisive existence of international law in international politics. Neither the Western superpower ally, USA, nor the Eastern superpower could ignore the first as well as the 9th Article of the Svalbard Treaty. The archipelago was Norwegian territory, but demilitarised. Even scholars who insist that the Treaty opened for “some military measures and [military] visits at Svalbard” admit that “the Norwegian authorities behaved to a great extent as if the Archipelago had a demilitarized status” (Tamnes 1997: 259). Therefore, the demilitarisation clause eased the tension instead of increasing the daily fear (and risk) of war in a geopolitical environment where East and West were in very close proximity.

The Svalbard “Channel”, 1920–2020—A Geopolitical Sketch


Fish and Geopolitics In 1951, Norway won acceptance for its sea territory border at the International Court of Justice in Den Hague (Skogvang 2012; Eriksen and Pharo 1997: 358f). Norway’s sea border, defined already in 1812, comprised of a four nautical miles boundary outside the littorals along the mainland, and of the straight baselines between the openings amidst the wide fjords. According to this straight baseline principle, the territorial waters of an irregular coastline with deep and wide fjords were measured from lines connecting a series of points on the seaward shores. The waters within these lines had the status of internal waters (Skogvang 2012). This delimitation gave Norway a greater sea territory than was internationally accepted, namely the three nautical miles sea boundary without any straight lines at the mouths of wide fjords (Fure 1996: 77–101). Ten years later, in 1961, Norway extended her fishery border to twelve nautical miles, while the territorial border remained unaltered (Eriksen and Pharo 1997: 359–362). In 1977, Norway established an economic zone of 200 nautical miles out of her coast. This dramatic extension of her territory was not a unilateral form of Norwegian expansionism, but was in line with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The Norwegian engagement in the development of the law of the sea was thus based on international law as well as on Norway’s own interests as a fishery state: the minor power Norway was both interested in and dependent on strengthening international law (Tamnes 1997: 284). While the Grotian principle of free passage continued to be respected outside the territorial border, the rights to the natural resources were in principle reserved for Norwegians only (Tamnes 2009: 266; Brachel 2015). This combination of sovereignty and continued freedom of the seas was a compromise between the ambitions of the littoral states for extended access to sea resources, on the one hand, and the great powers’ protection against curtailments of the international freedom of the oceans, on the other hand (Tamnes 2009). As such, it was equivalent to the Svalbard Treaty, with its combination of state sovereignty and guarantees for common use of natural resources. In the sea belt from the territorial border and out to the 200 miles around Svalbard Norway introduced a fishery protection zone. Within this protection zone, Norway defined the rules of the fisheries (Pedersen 2011: 123). Since concepts such as a 200 miles economic zone, according to the official Norwegian interpretation of the Treaty, were unknown to the law of the seas in 1920, the designers of the Treaty did not intend it to extend beyond the the territorial border around Svalbard that was open for any citizens of the signatory powers. The first of the opponents to Norway’s interpretation was the Soviet Union, which requested Norway in 1970 to “sustain from taking unilateral actions [in the fishery protection zone] that are inconsistent with the Paris Treaty of 1920 concerning Spitsbergen” (Pedersen 2008: 238). During the 1970s, Norway’s closest allies, for example Britain and the United States, did the same (Pedersen 2017: 97; Jensen and Rottem 2010: 79), claiming that it would be contrary to the spirit of the Treaty to give Norway exclusive sovereignty over the fishery protection zone (Ingimundarson 2018:


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901). Norway’s problem was, and still is, that this interpretation of the Treaty was the general one and that Norway was quite isolated even from its closest friends. As one clerk in the British foreign Office noted in 1979: “The Norwegians might […] wish” that the 1920 Treaty with its restrictions on their sovereignty had not been concluded, but “they have to live with the hard facts” and “one of our tasks as [her] loyal […] allies is to help them to do so” (Ingimundarson 2018: 905). For Britain, as for the United States, the first priority was to uphold her own interests to access the resources, as was the case in 1920. This time it was both the fish and the prospect of future oil exploration near the archipelago that motivated the great western powers’ Treaty protection. As always in the diplomatic history of Svalbard, resource struggles triggered power competition and, from time to time, the competition was both raw and without any diplomatic make-up. There were, however, scientific reasons for Norwegian sea expansionism in 1977, namely that Norway felt obliged to protect the fisheries against overfishing by modern trawling. In 1986 and 1994, therefore, they introduced protection regulations in the Svalbard zone. Immediately, these regulations led to “fisheries jurisdiction wrangle[s]s” (Pedersen 2008: 245–250) with a number of states. The most dramatic one followed the Norwegian arrest of the Russian trawler “Tsjernigov” in 2001, whose trawl net had a mesh width less than half of the size that had been accepted by the Russian fishery authorities (Pedersen 2008: 166). The arrest provoked fury. The Russian Fishery Committee’s leader warned that “next time” the Russian navy would sink the Norwegian coast guard vessel and leave its crew in the ocean (Bones and Jølle, forthcoming, Chap. 9). The deputy chairman of the committee for foreign affairs in the Russian Duma interpreted the Norwegian behaviour towards Russian fishermen in the Svalbard zone as a policy to push Russia out of Svalbard (Jørgensen 2018: 58f). Hallvard Tjelmeland has observed that “an Arctic turn” in Norwegian foreign politics towards the end of the Cold War introduced a more active policy. The aim was “to take seriously the international stewardship” that Norway has taken upon herself in the Svalbard Treaty by introducing protection regulations of the polar environment (Bones and Jølle forthcoming, Chap. 9), not to hurt the Russians. The Russians were, however, used to being treated in a friendly way during the earlier Norwegian non-policy period, and now reacted fiercely, hardly because they wanted international fairness, but more likely to oppose all partners in the treaty being given the same right to utilize the resources (Holtsmark 2015: 575). One long line in the Russo/Soviet-Norwegian history of relations at Svalbard is, undeniably, Russian mild pressure against Norway to achieve a special position at the islands—or to bi-lateralise the rule there (Jørgensen & Østhagen 2020: 181f, 185). An alternative interpretation of the opposition against the strengthened Norwegian rule both in Svalbard and on its fishery protection zone is the geopolitical fact that the Svalbard “channel” continued to be vital to Russia, independent of changes in the great power states system and even independent of the question of resources—oil as well as fish—in the polar basin. Geography explains the Russian safeguarding of the Svalbard Treaty, as well as the Russian efforts to be treated as special guests in the Norwegian territory of Svalbard.

The Svalbard “Channel”, 1920–2020—A Geopolitical Sketch


The most recent addendums to the geopolitical frames around world politics in the Arctic, namely climate change and related questions, have hardly changed the geopolitical longue durées, but have reinforced them.

An “Outdated” Treaty? In 1985, Oran Young proclaimed the coming of “the Age of the Arctic” (Young 1985; Hønneland 2013: 5–14). The global interest in the melting of the polar ice, the opening of the Northern Sea Route, the oil potential in the area, and the appearance of global newcomers such as China in the Arctic, seem to support him. On the other hand, dreams of the Arctic as a new oil and gas Klondyke have recently dwindled as the costs of drilling in these harsh waters are high while oil prices have decreased substantially. Furthermore, Rolf Tamnes has formulated the following slightly sardonic question: What happens if the world’s leaders should take the climate crises seriously and agree on a high CO2 -price to restrict global warming to two degrees Celsius (Tamnes 2013: 350)? The same leading question could be raised concerning the coal resources on Svalbard, which are just as non-recoverable as the oil and gas. At the same time, science has led to true internationalism. Ten countries operate permanent research stations at Ny Ålesund, the scientific capital of Svalbard (Rossi 2018 [2017]: 179). Geopolitically, Svalbard seems to have had a central international position from the time of the Dutch discovery until present, regardless of its reputation as the ultimate example of a periphery. The basic reason for the frozen international consciousness of Svalbard is that the archipelago, including Bear Island, was and still is the northern shore of the entrance to the Russian North and to the Northern Sea Route. In the words of William Scoresby, famous English explorer, in 1822: Perhaps there is no question connected with geographical science, which has been so long in agitation, without being resolved, and so often revived with the most sanguine expectations of success, and then abandoned as hopeless, – as the question of the existence of a navigable communication between the European and the Chinese Seas, by the North (Holtsmark and Tamnes 2014: 12).

As the melting of the polar ice accelerates and the Northern Sea Route attracts people, media and politics, the old dream that motivated Barents in 1596 suggests the possibility of new conflicts. In 2009, the Security Council of the Russian Federation announced that the Arctic zone and the Northern Sea Route were vital to Russia’s sovereign interests (Dodds 2010: 308). This may be interpreted as a sign of what Klaus Dodds and Mark Nuttall call “a scramble for the poles” (Dodds and Nuttall 2015). The Russian flag planted on the bottom of the sea under the North Pole in 2007 is seen as the utmost proof of this new scramble (Dodds 2010: 303; Rothwell 2015: 121; Foxall 2014: 93, 100). In 2015, the “scramble” reached Svalbard, personified in the deputy prime minister of Russia, Dmitrij Rogozin, during a short stay in Longyearbyen Airport (Rossi 2018 [2017]: 129). Rogozin, who had been denied access to Norway as part of


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the western sanctions against the annexation of Crimea, declared: “The Arctic is a Russian Mecca” (Rossi 2018 [2017]: 130), and “We have come to the Arctic forever and we will make it ours”.9 He even stated that there was a connection between the Crimean annexation in 2014 and the Arctic: “The two things are the same”, namely a question of “Russia’s territorial integrity” (Rossi 2018 [2017]: 131). The Norwegian foreign department probably felt a cold wind, as a reminder of the Kremlin night in 1944. Four years later the wind, using the same metaphor, came from a completely different direction. As mentioned, the American Congress in 1910 had entertained the idea of making Spitsbergen a protectorate of USA. As an echo from that time, the American president suggested in 2019 that the United States should buy Greenland from Denmark, explaining to world opinion: [S]trategically for the United States it would be very nice and we’re a big ally of Denmark, we protect and we help Denmark and we will.10 “Next time it might be Norway that is challenged by Trump”, a leading newspaper commented (Dagbladet 2019). Possibly, the paper had in mind the Svalbard Treaty with its demilitarising clause. At least, the President’s reflection on Greenland may imply the polar area re-opening for what Christopher R. Rossi calls “territorial temptations” (Rossi 2018 [2017]).

On the other hand, the Treaty has been challenged only once during its centenary, in 1944. Even other, similar treaties that combine sovereignty and more or less internationalising clauses have empirically survived a number of spectacular geopolitical alterations, in addition to dramatic political power shifts in world politics. As the British diplomat and political scientist Alyson Bailes has observed, the Spitsbergen Treaty is one of many demilitarisation treaties and one of many sovereignty treaties in which the national sovereignty is limited; in Scandinavia, it is sufficient to refer to the already mentioned Aland Islands Treaty from 1856 as another example. All such treaties are adopted in the hope of reducing tensions and risks of war and, as Bailes states, “most would agree that they have worked pretty well” (Bailes 2011: 34). The Svalbard Treaty has worked well to regulate the tension between geopolitics and international law as all “the stakeholders have resorted to legal arguments to state and restate their interests”, as Valur Ingimundarson has noted (Ingimundarson 2018: 810). Even the different rulers of the Russian great power respected the Treaty; none of them threatened to replace law by force. Nevertheless, Bailes argues that the Svalbard Treaty is not “a viable answer for tomorrow’s Arctic” (Bailes 2011: 36), as the military threats of today are fuzzy but more varied than ever—including non-state as well as state terrorism—than was the case in 1920 and during the Cold War. 9 https://www.nrk.no/urix/russisk-visestatsminister_-_-vi-skal-gjore-arktis-vart-1.12317923

(9.10.19). 10 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/18/trump-considering-buying-greenland


The Svalbard “Channel”, 1920–2020—A Geopolitical Sketch


On the other hand, Donald Rothwell concludes his life-long studies of international law by arguing that the law of the sea is growing in importance, especially for the polar areas “with respect to claims and to governance” (Rothwell 2014: 19f, 34). The Svalbard Treaty seems to be a good example of the general rule, formulated by Robert Murray and Anita Nuttall, that the Arctic has become “the ideal demonstration of post sovereign politics” (Murray and Nuttall 2014: 6). As such, the Svalbard Treaty is likely to continue to regulate all stakeholders’ interests at the entrance to the “channel” to the Northern Sea Route, as the treaty is proof that state sovereignty does not need to exclude binding international cooperation (Young 1992: 183).

Concluding Remarks In a study in 1942, the United States Military Intelligence reported that, though “oil is probably present” as well as gypsum deposits, ferrous ore, some gold-bearing ores, and other mineral resources; “Spitsbergen’s wealth is coal” (Capelotti 2000: 13f). This statement sums up the fact that from its discovery in 1596 until the end of the Cold War, valuable natural resources have triggered the powers, small as well as greater, to struggle for political dominance of these Arctic islands. During the 16th and following centuries, the whale stocks led to struggles and fights between the whaling nations over the harvesting of the whale fields until the stocks were emptied. From the beginning of the twentieth century, a new race began on coal extraction: both British, Swedish, American, Dutch and Norwegian coal companies were established, though only the American company was profitable. In 1916, it was sold to Norwegian interests, who even bought the Swedish mines in the 1930s while the Russians bought some Dutch workings. Thus, from the 1930s only Norwegian and Russian coal mining survived (Capelotti 2000: 49), which laid the foundation for the intimate Russo-Norwegian relationship at the archipelago during the Cold War. In spite of the Norwegian sovereignty and the clause of non-discrimination in the Svalbard Treaty of 1920, the Russian settlements practised a form of self-rule. However, from the 1970s onwards Norway forced through its sovereign rights to build an airport as well as to enforce her control of rescue operations. After the Cold War, Norway managed to force through her interpretation of the fishery protection zone around Svalbard as not being part of the Treaty. Norway also forced Russian fishermen to accept Norway’s authority and thus, alas, to provoke even her closest allies, such as Great Britain and the United States, to claim that the Svalbard Treaty implies that the protection zone is subordinated to the Treaty’s constraints on Norway’s sovereignty, and therefore an area that should be open to all stakeholders. The competition for natural resources, however, is not the only lasting variable that explains the close cooperation and conflicts between Norway and Russia on Svalbard. More important is the geopolitical fact that the “strait” between Svalbard and Tromsø is the most important “channel” between the Atlantic and the Northern Sea Route. This route was the original reason behind the expedition that resulted


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in the discovery of the islands in 1596, and the same route is the main reason why the Svalbard “channel” is still an international hot spot for Russia as well as for her great power competitors both in Europe, America and China. Therefore, Russia has an interest in the maintenance of existing international rule in the Arctic in which Norway is the sovereign power at Svalbard with the obligation to treat any of the citizens there equal, even though Russis contests the Norwegian rule in the maritime zones around Svalbard (Jørgensen & Østhagen 2020: 185). Thus, the Svalbard Treaty, with its demilitarisation clause, still seems relevant as well as sustainable in a power balance perspective.

References11 Arlov, T. B. (1994). A short history of Svalbard. Oslo: Norwegian Polar Institute. Arlov, T. B. (2007 [1996]). Svalbards historie. Bergen: Fagbokforlaget. Avango, D. (2005). Sveagruvan. Svensk gruvhantering mellan industri, diplomati och geovetenskap. Stockholm: Jernkontoret. Avango, D. (2018). Extracting the future in Svalbard. In N. Wormbs (Ed.), Competing arctic futures: Historical and contemporary perspectives (pp. 47–71). London: Palgrave Macmillan. Avango, D., et al. (2011). Between markets and geo-politics. Nature resource exploitation on Spitsbergen from 1600 to the present day. Polar Record, 47, 29–39. Bailes, A. (2011). Spitsbergen in a sea of change. In D. Wallis & S. Arnold (Eds.), The Spitsbergen treaty. Multinational governance in the arctic (pp. 34–37). Helsinki: Conexio Public Relations. Barthelmess, K. (2009). Bäreninsel 1998 und 1899: Wie Theodor Lerner eine Geheimmission des Deutschen Seefischerei-Vereins zur Schaffung einer deutschen Arktis-Kolonie unwissentlich durchkreuzte. Polarforschung, 78, 67–71. Berg, R. (1995). Norge på egen hånd, 1905-1920, Norsk utenrikspolitikks historie (Vol. 2). Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. Berg, R. (2013). From “Spitsbergen” to “Svalbard”. Norwegianization in Norway and in the “Norwegian Sea”, 1820–1925. Acta Borealia, 30, 154–173. http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/ bybBVuPE2zaJUyXQAHCt/full#.UrRLGPTuL7M. Berg, R. (2014). Denmark, Norway and Sweden in 1814. A geopolitical and contemporary perspective. Scandinavian Journal of History, 39(3), 265–286. Berg, R. (2017). Norway, Spitsbergen, and America, 1905–1920. Diplomacy & Statecraft, 28(1), 20–38. https://doi.org/10.1080/09592296.2017.1275480. Berg, R. (2019). Mellom Albion og Bjørnen. Om mistillit til “krigsrestatene” på 1800-tallet. In K. A. Myklebost & S. Bones (Eds.), In the North, the East and West meet. Festschrift for Jens Petter Nielsen (pp. 93–108). Stamsund: Orkana Akademisk. Bones, S., & Jølle, H. D. (Eds.) (forthcoming). Norsk polarpolitikks historie. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. Børresen, J., Gjeseth, G., & Tamnes, R. (2004). Allianseforsvar i endring 1970-2000, Norsk forsvarshistorie (Vol. 5). Bergen: Eide. Brachel, K. K. (2015). Fra 12 til 200 nautiske mil. Utviklingen av den norske fiskerigrensepolitikken 1970–1977 (MA-thesis). Oslo: University of Oslo.

11 The literature on Svalbard and international politics used to be quite limited, but has exploded after the Cold War. Therefore, only works that are cited in the chapter are included in the historiographical overview.

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Capelotti, P. J. (Ed.) (2000). The Svalbard Archipelago. American Military and political geographies of Spitsbergen and Other Norwegian Polar Territories, 1941–1950. Jefferson, NC & London: McFarland & Company. Churchill, R., & Ulfstein, G. (2010). The disputed maritime zones around Svalbard. In M. Nordquist, J. N. Moore, & T. H. Heidar (Eds.), Changes in the Arctic environment and the law of the sea (pp. 551–593). Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers. Dagbladet. (2019, August 23), https://www.dagbladet.no/kultur/a-le-av-trump-er-lettsindig-hanma-tas-pa-alvor/71515978. Degroot, D. (2018). The frigid golden age. Climate change, the little ice age, and the Dutch Republic, 1560–1720. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Dodds, K. (2010). A polar Mediterranean? Accessibility, resources and sovereignty in the Arctic Ocean. Global Policy, 1(3), 303–311. Dodds, K. & Nuttall, M. (2015). The scramble for the poles. The geopolitic of the Arctic and Antarctic. Cambridge, UK & Malden, MA: Polity Press. Drivenes, E. A. (2004). Ishavsimperialisme. In E. A. Drivenes & H. D. Jølle (Eds.), Vitenskapene. Norsk polarhistorie (Vol. 2, pp. 175–256). Oslo: Gyldendal. Eide, O. J. (2019). Norge i Arktis 1906–1933. Folkerettsjuristenes fellesskap, faglige legitimitet og politiske handlekraft i spørsmålene om Svalbard, sjøgrensen og Øst-Grønland (Ph.D.-dissertation). Stavanger: University of Stavanger. Eriksen, K. E. (1989). Svalbardspørsmålet fra krig til kald krig. In T. Bergh & H. 0. Pharo (Eds.), Historiker og veileder. Festskrift til Jakob Sverdrup (pp. 112–162). Oslo: Tiden. Eriksen, K. E., & Pharo, H. Ø. (1997). Kald krig og internasjonalisering 1949-1965, Norsk utenrikspolitikks historie (Vol. 5). Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. Foxall, A. (2014). ‘We have proved it, the Arctic is ours’: resources, security and strategy in the Russian Arctic. In R. C. Powell & K. Dodds (Eds.), Polar geopolitics? Knowledges, resources and legal regimes (pp. 93–112). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. Fure, O. B. (1996). Mellomkrigstid 1920-1940, Norsk utenrikspolitikks historie (Vol. 3). Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. Gardberg, A. (1995). Åland Islands. A Strategic Survey. Helsinki: Finnish Defence. Hannikainen, L. (1994). The continued validity of the demilitarised and neutralised status of the Aland Islands. Zeitschrift für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht 54, 614–651. https://www.zaoerv.de/54_1994/54_1994_3_4_a_614_651.pdf. Hartnell, C. C. (2009). Arctic network builder. The Arctic coal company’s operations on Spitsbergen and its relationship with the environment. Houghton, MI: Michigan Technological University. Holtsmark, S. G. (2004). Høyt spill. Svalbard-spørsmålet 1944–1947, Forsvarsstudier 1. Oslo: Institutt for forsvarsstudier. Holtsmark, S. G. (Ed.). (2015). Naboer i frykt og forventning 1917–2014, Norge og Russland 1814–2014 (Vol. 2). Oslo: Pax. Holtsmark, S. G., & Tamnes, R. (2014). The geopolitics in the Arctic in historical perspective. In R. Tamnes & K. Offerdal (Eds.), Geopolitics and security in the Arctic. Regional dynamics in a global world (pp. 12–48). London: Routledge. Hønneland, G. (Ed.). (2013). The politics of the Arctic. Cheltham, UK & Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing. Ingimundarson, V. (2018). The geopolitics of the ‘Future Return’: Britain’s Century-Long challenges to Norway’s control over the Spitsbergen Archipelago. The International History Review, 40(4), 893–915. https://doi.org/10.1080/07075332.2017.1345773. Jensen, Ø., & Rottem, S. V. (2010). The politics of security and international law in Norway’s Arctic Waters. Polar Record, 46, 75–83. Jørgensen, A. (2018). Russisk svalbardpolitikk. Svalbard sett fra den andre siden. 4th Ed. Bergen: Fagbokforlaget. Jørgensen, A.-K., & Østhagen, A. (2020). Norges vern av suverene rettigheter rundt Svalbard: Russiske persepsjoner og reaksjoner. Internasjonal politikk, 78(2), 167–192. https://doi.org/10. 23865/intpol.v78.1838.


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Kaartvedt, A. (1995). 1814–1905. Unionen med Sverige. In N. Bjørgo, Ø. Rian, & A. Kaartvedt. (Eds.), Selvstendighet og union. Norsk utenrikspolitikks historie, vol. 1. Oslo: Universitetesforlaget. Koivurova, T., & Holiencin, F. (2017). Demilitarisation and neutralisation of Svalbard: how has the Svalbard regime been able to meet the changing security realities during almost 100 years of existence? Polar Record, 53(2), 131–142, https://doi.org./10.1017/50032247416000838. Kristiansen, T. (1988). Mellom landmakter og sjømakter. Norges plass i britisk forsvars- og utenrikspolitikk 1905–1914 (MA-thesis). Oslo: University of Oslo. Kruse, F. (2013). British mining, exploration, and geopolitics on Spitsbergen, 1904-53. Groningen: Rijksuniversitet. Lundestad, G. (1980). America, Scandinavia and the Cold War 1945–1949. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. Mathisen, T. (1954). Svalbard in international politics 1871–1925. The solution of a unique international problem. Oslo: Brøggers Boktrykkeris Forlag. McCannon, J. (2018). Exploring and mapping the Arctic: Histories of discovery. In M. Nuttall, T. R. Christensen, & M. Siegert (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of the polar regions (pp. 19–33). London: Routledge. Murray, R. W., & Nuttall, A. D. (2014). Introduction: Understanding policy and governance in the Arctic. In R. W. Murray & A. D. Nuttall (Eds.), International relations and the Arctic. Understanding policy and governance (pp. 1–21). Amherst, New York: Cambria Press. Nielsen, J. P. (Ed.). (2014). Russland kommer nærmere 1814–1917, Norge og Russland 1814–2014, vol. Oslo: Pax. Numminen, L. (2011). A history and functioning of the Spitsbergen treaty. In D. Wallis & A. Steward (Eds.), The Spitsbergen Treaty. Multinational governance in the Arctic (pp. 7–20). Helsinki: Conexio Public Relations. Nyman, E., et al. (2019). The Svalbard archipelago: an exploratory analysis of port investment and the context of the new arctic routes. Maritime Studies, 24 May 2019, https://doi.org/10.1007/ s40152-019-00143-4. Østreng, W. (1974). Økonomi og politisk suverenitet. Interessespillet om Svalbards politiske status. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. Østreng, W. (1975). Det politiske Svalbard. Oslo: Gyldendal. Pedersen, T. (2008). The dynamics of Svalbard diplomacy. Diplomacy and Statecraft, 19(2), 236– 262. https://doi.org/10.1080/09592290802096299. Pedersen, T. (2011). International law and politics in U.S. policymaking: The United States and the Svalbard Dispute. Ocean Development and International Law, 42(1–2), 120–135, https://doi. org/10.1080/00908320.2010.521053. Pedersen, T. (2017). The politics of presence: The Longyearbyen dilemma. Arctic Review on Law and Politics, 8, 95–108, http://dx.doi.org/10.23865/arctic.v8.682. Riste, O. (1965). The neutral Ally: Norway’s relations with belligerent powers in the first world war. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. Riste, O. (1979). “London-regjeringa”, Norge i krigsalliansen 1940-1945 (Vol. 2). Oslo: Samlaget. Rossi, C. R. (2018 [2017]). Sovereignty and territorial temptation: The Grotian tendency. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Rothwell, D. R. (1996). The polar regions and the development of international law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Rothwell, D. R. (2014). The polar regions and the law of the sea. In R. C. Powell & K. Dodds (Eds.), Polar geopolitics? Knowledges, resources and legal regimes (pp. 19–37). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. Rothwell, D. R. (2015). Polar territorial and maritime sovereignty in the twenty-first century. In C. Chinkin & F. Baetens (Eds.), Sovereignty, statehood and state responsibility. Essays in honour of James Crawford (pp. 110–125). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Singh, E. C. (1980). The Spitsbergen (Svalbard) question: United States Foreign Policy, 1907–1935. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.

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Skagestad, O. G. (1