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2020 | Buch

Handbook on Geopolitics and Security in the Arctic

The High North Between Cooperation and Confrontation


Über dieses Buch

Against the backdrop of climate change and tectonic political shifts in world politics, this handbook provides an overview of the most crucial geopolitical and security related issues in the Arctic. It discusses established shareholder's policies in the Arctic – those of Russia, Canada, the USA, Denmark, and Norway – as well as the politics and interests of other significant or future stakeholders, including China and India. Furthermore, it explains the economic situation and the legal framework that governs the Arctic, and the claims that Arctic states have made in order to expand their territories and exclusive economic zones.

While illustrating the collaborative approach, represented by institutions such as the Arctic council, which has often been described as an exceptional institution in this region, the contributing authors examine potential resource and power conflicts between Arctic nations, due to competing interests. The authors also address topics such as changing alliances between Arctic nations, new sea lines of communication, technological shifts, and eventually the return to power politics in the area. Written by experts on international security studies and the Arctic, as well as practitioners from government institutions and international organizations, the book provides an invaluable source of information for anyone interested in geopolitical shifts and security issues in the High North.



Shareholders. The Arctic Five

A Two-Faced Russia? Civilian Interests and Great Power Politics in the High North
Russia’s main civilian interests in the Arctic is to use the Russian Arctic as a “resource base” for the Russian economy (oil/gas). Russia wants its claims to the undersea territory beyond the 200 nautical mile line recognised. It also has a strong interest in securing more traffic along the Northern Sea Route (NSR), which it wants recognized as “national waters”. On the other hand, Russia has been building up its military forces in the Arctic. These are to a large extent defensive, made in order to secure Russia’s second-strike nuclear capability. However, parts of Russia’s build-up of anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities, especially its deployment of long-range missiles on most surface vessels and the building of air defence bases along the NSR, risk fuelling a NATO-Russia security dilemma.
Jørgen Staun
No UNCLOS, No Icebreakers, No Clue? U.S. Arctic Policy Through the Eyes of Congress
The U.S. 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 no regional military strategy, the positioning of the U.S. as a weak Arctic power simultaneously undermines its own national security and limits its role in fostering peace across the North. The proposed book chapter will analyze the role of Congress in U.S. Arctic policymaking and military leadership. First, the chapter will provide a brief survey of U.S. congressional actions related to Arctic security from 2007 to 2018, using a widened security perspective to include the nexus of national, climate, energy, and military security measures. Then, through a critical discourse analysis of published documents, speeches, and legislation, the chapter will analyze congressional action on Arctic energy, climate, UNCLOS, leadership, and icebreaking vessels. The chapter will conclude 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.
Victoria Herrmann, Lillian Hussong
Arctic Geopolitics and Security from the Canadian Perspective
The Canadian Arctic is in transition. As climate change reduces the thickness and extent of the region’s sea-ice, newly open waters are facilitating shipping and development along the Northwest Passage. With this new activity comes new political and security challenges and the reemergence of decades old questions of sovereignty and jurisdiction. In this chapter, Lajeunesse offers an overview of the present state and evolution of Canada’s defence, security, and circumpolar policies and objectives in the Arctic.
Adam Lajeunesse
Norway’s High North Geopolitics: Continuities and Changes Through Three Decades
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.
Christoph Humrich
The Middleman—The Driving Forces Behind Denmark’s Arctic Policy
The existing literature highlights that Denmark’s Arctic policy is driven by Denmark’s wish to maintain good relationships with the United States and Greenland. This chapter examines if this is the case. It argues that while the relationship to Washington and Nuuk are arguably the most important driving forces behind Denmark’s Arctic policy, other factors, such as the institutional set-up in the Arctic, have also shaped Danish policy. The chapter also shows that the United States has recently become more interested in Greenland, as it has come to see the Arctic as an arena for geopolitical competition with other great powers. This creates new challenges for Denmark’s Arctic policy that differs from the situation during the Cold War, because of Greenland’s enhanced autonomy and the creation of new regional institutions in the past decades.
Jon Rahbek-Clemmensen, Line Jedig Nielsen

Arctic Stakeholders

China’s Aspirations as a “Near Arctic State”: Growing Stakeholder or Growing Risk?
The Arctic is a region of growing interest to a number of states. With climate change opening up new resources and transit routes, the region offers much opportunity. While new transit routes may not be safe for navigation for years to come, and while resources are mostly within Exclusive Economic Zones, there are growing expectations regarding new opportunities. Also security and geostrategic issues are relevant, as ice that used to serve as natural barrier is melting, and human activity in the region is increasing. While only Arctic coastal states have sovereign rights, we also find non-Arctic but self-proclaimed ‘near-Arctic’ China more and more active in and towards the Arctic. China is positioning itself as Arctic stakeholder and partner via significant investments and partnerships. Some coastal states are increasingly concerned though and take countermeasures. This contribution outlines the key developments regarding China and the Arctic on economic, research and technology aspects, and geostrategic and security aspects. The chapter closes with some recommendations for working towards a stable Arctic future.
Sybille Reinke de Buitrago
China in the Arctic and the Case of Greenland
The potential political ramifications of an increasing Chinese presence around the North Pole and China’s Arctic ambitions have been subject to a heated debate about whether China presents an opportunity or challenge for Arctic states. The assertive statements of some Chinese academics demanding a greater role for China and the alarming reactions of Western observers created a self-enforcing and antagonized discourse. However, despite a heighten curiosity about Arctic affairs in China, the footprint of the People’s Republic in the region remains small. This discrepancy between perception and reality becomes particularly apparent in the case of Greenland. While warnings about China “buying” Greenland were omnipresent for several years, the small scale and low number of Chinese mining projects on the island indicates that China is not rushing into the region. Rather, the Chinese interest in Greenland and the Arctic is not exclusively focused on the region, but is, potentially a minor part of China’s “global pivot”. While not exaggerating or creating further support for a hysteric “China threat” narrative, this chapter aims to provide a fact-based assessment of current developments in Greenland. Further, legitimate concerns regarding the lack of transparency of Chinese investors course of action and the unclear role of the Chinese government behind these mining projects shall be identified.
Johannes Mohr
The European Union and the Arctic: A Decade into Finding Its Arcticness
Over the last ten years, the European Union (EU) has felt an Arctic allure, with its various institutions attempting to formulate a coherent policy approach for its ‘Northern Neighbourhood.’ However, 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. 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, its slightly paternalistic Arctic policy statements portraying the EU as part of the ‘solution’ to the region’s 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. This chapter will go to the bottom of the EU’s decade-long Arctic endeavour, analysing the Union’s search to find and understand its very own Arcticness.
Andreas Raspotnik, Adam Stępień
Seeking a Seat at the Table: India Turns to the Arctic
India defines its interests in the Arctic as being scientific, environmental, commercial and strategic. This expansive definition is meant to keep India’s options open. On the one hand, Indians are concerned about untrammelled exploitation of Arctic resources and would like an international treaty to keep the Arctic Ocean off-limits—an idea rooted in its experience with the Antarctic Treaty System in the twentieth century. On the other hand, India does not want to be left out of commercial opportunities that may arise as the Arctic ice recedes. For now, India is content to have a seat at the table. This impulse best explains India’s Arctic engagement, in particular, its successful pursuit of observer status in the Arctic Council.
Aditya Ramanathan
Singapore: A Tangential but Constructive Player in the Arctic
At first glance, Singapore would appear to be an unlikely candidate for any discussion of the Arctic. Yet, in recent years, Singapore has cast its eyes to the High North, driven largely by concerns over climate change and polar ice melt, and it seeks, as much as possible, to be an active player in political and economic developments affecting the Arctic region. Singapore’s interests in the Arctic mainly revolve around environmental, trade and business, and global governance issues. The importance that Singapore puts on global governance is the most powerful reason for its membership in the Arctic Council and for its growing interest in general how changes in the region might affect the country. In this regard, 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 Singapore. Overall, the country’s attachments to the Arctic region will remain tangential, but Singapore will also engage in a proactive and constructive approach to the region’s problems.
Richard A. Bitzinger

Basics: Economies, Infrastructures and Law in the Arctic

A Divided Arctic: Maritime Boundary Agreements and Disputes in the Arctic Ocean
The Arctic region has been characterised by some as an area of geopolitical competition and boundary disputes. However, as a matter of international law, these portrayals are misleading. In fact, when it concerns dividing the Arctic through the delimitation of maritime boundaries, the Arctic states have been remarkably successful. In this chapter, we examine the various maritime boundaries in the Arctic, as well as the practice of the Arctic states concerning baselines, maritime claims and extended continental shelves in the central Arctic Ocean. We find that in contrast to other maritime domains, most of the maritime boundaries in the Arctic have been settled. Moreover, the Arctic coastal states have declared their intentions to abide by the Law of the Sea, not least because it grants them broad maritime claims in the Arctic Ocean, and have stated that potential disputes will be solved through negotiations. Thus, when examining maritime disputes, the Arctic does not entail escalating conflicts; it is instead an example of a maritime space where states have settled disputes before real conflict could emerge and use the framework of agreed boundaries as a basis for transboundary cooperation.
Clive Schofield, Andreas Østhagen
The Potential of Polar Routes: The Opening of a New Ocean
The maritime potential of the Arctic has long captivated international stakeholders, with numerous historical polar explorations undertaken in an attempt to discover new polar routes that would connect the major trading markets of the world. Though indigenous peoples have long relied on the Arctic waters for food and transport, maritime activity in the region has largely been limited due to the predominantly impassable waters. Current climate trends are resulting in an increasingly accessible maritime domain that may offer significant potential for economic development and trade. Geopolitical trends, abundant natural resources, and opening waters are resulting in global interest in the Arctic. Yet there remain numerous perils to maritime operations in the High North. Hostile weather, challenging operations, limited infrastructure, and high costs will dampen commercial interest in the polar routes across the Arctic. Maritime activity will be dominated by regional trans-shipment along the Northern Sea Route and the movement of extracted natural resources to markets, rather than significant commercial cargo transit shipping for the near future. Yet military activity in the region is rising in an effort to protect national interests as both Arctic and non-Arctic states scramble to evaluate and protect perceived interests. This militarization may further deter commercial activity in the region by lending a greater uncertainty to regional operations and the potential for conflict in the High North.
Rachael Gosnell
Arctic Economies Between Geopolitical Tensions and Provision of Livelihoods: Insights from the ECONOR Approach
We present results from the Economy of the North (ECONOR) projects on the circumpolar Arctic economy and socio-economic conditions, as economic background for studies of geopolitical challenges of the Arctic. The ECONOR reports describe how the economy and livelihoods in the Arctic are conditioned by the global economy and climate change, and gives overviews of the regional Arctic economies, with economic and socio-economic indicators, gross regional product and disposable income of households. This can give a background for understanding how the resource wealth of the Arctic and differences in policy and institutions shape the Arctic economy and socio-economic outcomes and conditions for sustainability. We describe how the ECONOR approach gives insight into the economic background for geopolitical interest in the Arctic, given the abundance of natural resources.
Solveig Glomsrød, Birger Poppel, Lars Lindholt, Gérard Duhaime, Sébastien Lévesque, Davin Holen, Iulie Aslaksen
Connectivity and Infrastructure—The Arctic Digital Divide
Quality infrastructures are paramount to ensure prosperity and sustainable development of the Arctic region. Infrastructures are also critical to improve online connectivity for local Arctic communities and lessen the Arctic digital divide. Two persistent dynamics has guided and will continue to guide the development of connectivity infrastructure in the region. First, the construction of norms and standards on Arctic connectivity has started to take shape, using multilateral settings and forums. This process involves a wide range of stakeholders and highlight the role that the private sector could play in Arctic governance. Second, the necessity of building connectivity infrastructure requires substantial investments, with a limited number of potential customers. China is at the forefront, expressing strong interest at high government level to contribute in a digital Arctic Silk Road as part of their Road and Belt Initiative (BRI). The construction of an undersea cable through the Northern Sea Route is at the center of future connectivity development in the Arctic and economic development.  In particular, the digital Arctic Silk Road raises geopolitical and security concerns as it could represent an instance in which China will control a physical connectivity network outside of its national territory. In term, it could represent another instance of West-China rivalry for the control of global infrastructures and the question of the surveillance of the internet.
Michael Delaunay, Mathieu Landriault

Between Cooperation and Confrontation: Dimensions of Arctic Geopolitics and Security

Arctic Narratives and Geopolitical Competition
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. Today’s great powers appear set on a unilateral, competitive narrative. The question remains 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.
David P. Auerswald
Cooperation in the Cold—The Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement
Arctic states cooperate on many issues in the region. Accounts of this behavior often take a rationalist approach where cooperation is explained by compatible national interests, interdependence, the work of regional institutions or the ‘low politics’ nature of those issues. These explanations are useful but this paper argues that such a discussion should also include the material properties of the Arctic space and human activities therein. I use a case study of the Arctic Search and Rescue (SAR) Agreement to illustrate this point. Negotiations towards the SAR Agreement went with noticeable smoothness and speed from 2009 to the signing in 2011. Since then, implementation has proceeded apace, with little disruption by deteriorating relations between Russia and the West in the post-Crimea phase. This highlights an unusual confluence of interests among state parties which were at least partly determined by the environmental and economic properties of the Arctic. Given the very limited SAR infrastructure in a vast, climatically harsh area which was projected to see a rapid increase in shipping and resource access, there was huge pressure on states to quickly agree on a cooperative framework so as not to impede the commercial exploitation of this economically underdeveloped region.
Daniel Lambach
Arctic Geopolitics of Fishing
Fisheries are typically considered to be a ‘low’ security interest of coastal states, connected with other soft security issues like food and environmental protection. However, in the Arctic region, high geopolitical stakes are woven into fisheries in surprising ways. In the Bering Sea, the US and Russian coast guards work together on joint fisheries enforcement—one of the only direct lines of communication between the two governments. Similarly, in the Barents Sea, Norway balances cooperation with Russia on fisheries with calls for NATO to take a stronger role in the Arctic. On the commercial side, the influence of China on the Greenlandic fishing industry, and the ongoing debate over fishing around Svalbard, can be linked to broader dynamics in Arctic power politics. Fishing has been recognized as an arena of ‘gray zone’ warfare, and emerging gray zone uses of both coast guards and fishing fleets may challenge Arctic coastal states in novel ways. In particular, as climate change drives changes in fish distributions and assortments in the Arctic, the issue of fishing may increasingly rise to the level of high geopolitics. This paper analyzes the geopolitical stakes of fisheries in and around the Arctic Ocean. Key actors in both governmental and commercial sectors will be identified, and the important historical and emerging relationships will be traced: between Arctic states; among small and great powers; and between alliances and institutions like NATO and the EU, in which fisheries issues often serve as an irritant.
Rebecca Pincus
The Svalbard “Channel”, 1920–2020—A Geopolitical Sketch
From the discovery of Spitsbergen in 1596 to the post-Cold War period, Spitsbergen (re-named Svalbard in 1925) was an international hot spot during periods when the powers struggled over its resources, either whale or coal. From the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the archipelago was in the centre of great power interest due to its geostrategic position as a strait or “channel” to the Barents Sea and thus to northern Russia. The chapter discusses how the Svalbard Treaty of 1920 was an important tool for balancing Russian interests in this “channel” with Norwegian sovereignty in the archipelago. The Treaty’s combination of Norwegian sovereignty, international common rights for continued resource utilisation, and demilitarisation are discussed as an international example of how modern international law in the Arctic may serve to stabilise a potential geopolitical conflict area.
Roald Berg
The Non-Arctic Dimension of Military Security—Russia and the West Between Regional Cooperation and Geopolitical Confrontation
This chapter looks at how regional as well as geopolitical security dynamics affect the military security situation in the Arctic region. More precisely the chapter looks at how Arctic states’ common economic interests and regional cooperation on non-military security challenges in the Arctic intersect with geopolitical challenges, in particular with Russia’s increasing challenge of NATO’s dominance in the post-Cold War security order. Comparing NATO-Russia relations in the Arctic, Baltic and Black Sea region, this chapter concludes that the considerable overlap in (primarily economic) interests as well as a more stable power balance in the Arctic, make it more likely that East and West will, despite fundamental geopolitical differences, be able to maintain more conciliatory defence and security relations in the High North.
Benjamin Schaller

Arctic Security and Beyond

Limited Cooperation or Upcoming Alliance? Russia, China and the Arctic
The rise of China, the return of Russia as a great power and the question of the extent of their cooperation raise many concerns, in general as well as in regard for the regional implications. Hereby the Arctic is coming more and more into focus as an area, where competition between the great powers is likely to grow over the next few years. Against this backdrop, this chapter shows the overall framework of Sino-Russian cooperation in the economic as well as in the military dimension and continues to put the specific Arctic dimension of both domains into focus. By shading light on, how the cooperation of both powers materializes in the High North, it explains the background and interests of both Moscow and Beijing in their own and collaborative efforts. Eventually, conclusions are drawn on the likelihood of an upcoming alliance and its geopolitical consequences for the High North.
Joachim Weber
High North and the Antarctic
New tensions are emerging in the polar regions, with the most powerful players expressing their political and economic ambitions more overtly. This is taking place against the background of a changing world order. A world in which old alliances are fracturing, and multilateralism is challenged. The battle for the resources of the polar regions is likely to take shape on the basis of new and unchartered parameters. The lack of predictability that has come to symbolize the world since the wave of populism that has swept through it in 2016, is likely to spill into the polar regions and render their future more unpredictable than ever before.
Doaa Abdel-Motaal
Handbook on Geopolitics and Security in the Arctic
herausgegeben von
Dr. Joachim Weber
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