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Russia’s Strategy of Reconquering the Arctic

This article was written by IWP alumna Patricia Schouker. 

Although Russia’s foreign policy is fundamentally reactive in nature, Moscow’s approach to the Arctic is pro-active.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has of late garnered most of the world’s attention, in the Far North, Russia has one ambition: “to reconquer the Arctic.” The Arctic is not the new geopolitical pivot point of the twenty-first century, but it will be one of the balance shifters in the global equilibrium of power. Russian president Vladimir Putin promulgated in early March the “Basic Principles of Russian Federation State Policy in the Arctic in 2035.” The new policy document outlines Russia’s Arctic interests, goals and implementation mechanisms over the next fifteen years. Russia continues to be interested in cooperating in the Arctic region to advance its regional leadership and economic agenda. The policy calls for a strong militarization of the region which will only happen through substantial investments, which comes at the expense of its relations with Western countries. It appears that Russia plans to continue a campaign of harsh rhetoric regarding security challenges in the Arctic region, while also boosting its military capabilities.