“Circumpolar” Cooperation. Current State


Photo: Arctic Council Secretariat / Linnea Nordström

It is interesting to look at what remains of the once intense Russia-West cooperation in the Arctic in the institutional dimension after almost two years.

Since 8 March 2022, the Russian Federation has been suspended by the decision of its Western "partners" from working in the Northern Dimension format. Russia's cooperation with the Nordic Council, where the Russian Federation had the status of a guest, has also been frozen.

Over the past two years, the Russian Federation has withdrawn from the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC), and so far it is the only structure where Russian participation has officially ended.

Moreover, Russia's participation has been suspended in a number of international institutional platforms and forums, the key one being the Arctic Council (AC).

A similar fate has befallen the Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region (CPAR) and the Barents Parliamentary Conference.

Cooperation has also been suspended on a number of interstate Arctic programmes. These included the EU-Russia cross-border cooperation programmes, namely Kolarctic, Karelia and Russia - South-East Finland. Russian participation in INTERACT was also put on pause, which negatively affects Arctic climate research, according to American and European scientists.

It is worth noting that the work of the Arctic Council without Russian participation has been hampered since 40% of the Arctic region is part of the Russian Federation.

Russia does not rule out withdrawing from the Arctic Council if its activities do not meet the country's interests, Ambassador-at-Large of the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation has said. In his opinion, the council is functioning "at the lowest speed." According to him, attempts by the Norwegian Chairship to resume the work of the Arctic Council in its full format “are not supported by all AC member states, some of which appear to have taken the course of weakening the organisation's role in the architecture of international Arctic cooperation.”

Apart from the above, there are few organisations where dialogue is still somehow going on.

For example, the Russian Federation remains a member of the Arctic Economic Council. Besides, the Northern Forum also continues its activities. However, the Forum is seen in the West as a structure under Russian supervision, which makes its status "dubious" in the eyes of the Arctic neighbours.

Russia also nominally continues its activities in the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), the International Arctic Social Sciences Association (IASSA) and the International Union for Circumpolar Medicine (IUCH). However, these are in fact framework non-governmental formats "attached" to the Arctic Council, which has isolated itself from Russia.

Thus, Russia has been excluded from participation in the vast majority of formats created to promote international interaction in high latitudes. The suspension of Russian participation violated not only the "spirit of circumpolar dialogue" but also the ideology of "the Arctic - a territory of peace" and "the Arctic beyond politics and confrontation." Unfortunately, this decision cannot but have a negative impact on the resolution of key tasks facing the region.

Based on a post by Telegram-Chanel «Kapitan Arktika» and  Interfax news

The editorial board of The Arctic Century



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