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2019 | OriginalPaper | Chapter

10. Contemporary Arctic Meets World Politics: Rethinking Arctic Exceptionalism in the Age of Uncertainty

Authors : Juha Käpylä, Harri Mikkola

Published in: The GlobalArctic Handbook

Publisher: Springer International Publishing

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Abstract

During the last decade, the Arctic has generally become to be understood as an exceptional “zone of peace” and a “territory of dialogue”. The region has been seen as relatively encapsulated from global power politics, characterized primarily as an apolitical space of regional governance, functional co-operation, and peaceful co-existence. However, as the contemporary Arctic is increasingly global, it is potentially not that different from any other region in terms of being increasingly subject to various geoeconomic and politico-strategic dynamics. This has been recently highlighted by various spill-over effects of world politics into the region, such as the conflict in Ukraine or the US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. The changed foreign policy behavior of Russia, and changes in US domestic and foreign policy, increase general uncertainty also in the Arctic. At the same time, exceptionalism has shown continuing resilience as Arctic actors have actively tried to maintain regional co-operation in a difficult international environment.
Footnotes
1
This chapter builds upon our previous work of the thematic, including Käpylä and Mikkola (2015), Käpylä et al. (2016).
 
2
The United States is the only Arctic country that has not ratified the UNCLOS. However, it accepts the treaty as customary international law.
 
3
For an illustrative discussion, see, e.g., Rogin (2016).
 
4
Recent media analysis indicates a potential for more non-cooperative framing and usage of the region. Before the crisis in Ukraine, Arctic-related reporting in mainstream Russian newspapers highlighted the commercial development of the Arctic. After the crisis, newspaper coverage has started to emphasize a more statist and militarized rendering of the region. In particular, the keyword “military” has become popular: in an analysis of keywords, it has come up from the 89th position before the crisis up to the 4th position in post-crisis media coverage in mainstream newspapers (Pilli-Sihvola et al. 2016, 53–54).
 
5
For example, the US has reservations about Russia’s view of the NSR as internal waters as well as its willingness to control movement along the route through ice-breaker policy.
 
6
That said, currently, Russia proceeds legitimately through the UN process.
 
7
For more on Russian hybrid influence in the Nordic-Baltic region, see Pynnöniemi and Salonius-Pasternak (2016), Martikainen et al. (2016).
 
8
See, for example, Koivurova (2016). For a discussion of icebreakers and their limited relevance for the US military capability in the Arctic, see Kuersten (2016).
 
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Metadata
Title
Contemporary Arctic Meets World Politics: Rethinking Arctic Exceptionalism in the Age of Uncertainty
Authors
Juha Käpylä
Harri Mikkola
Copyright Year
2019
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91995-9_10

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