Russian Policy in the Arctic after the Ukraine Crisis

Translated title of the contribution: Russian Policy in the Arctic after the Ukraine Crisis

Kristian Søby Kristensen, Casper Sakstrup

Research output: Book/ReportReportResearchpeer-review


How significant have the Ukraine crisis and the deteriorating relations between Russia and the West been for Russia’s policies in the Arctic since 2014? Is it possible to discern a change in Russian policy or can a case be made for continuity? These are the essential issues examined in this report. Russia is an actor of central importance in the Arctic. Consequently, the development of Russia’s policies in the Arctic is of paramount importance to the Danish Realm and the conditions governing Danish foreign and security policy. This report, therefore, sets out to analyze two aspects of Russian policy – the military and the diplomatic – before and after the Ukraine crisis, respectively. Firstly, the analysis indicates that a line of continuity rather than change prevails in Russian policy. Since 2008, Russia has consistently opted for a generally pragmatic and accommodating diplomatic course combined with a wide-ranging modernization and reinforcement of Russia’s military capabilities in the region. Secondly, the report interprets this political trajectory as a consequence of Russia’s core interest in the economic development of Russian Arctic territory. This core interest indicates that Russian policy is likely to focus on international stability and on the development of regional relations as long as they support Russian interests. Even so, other concerns – especially in terms of military strategy and symbolic politics – can potentially lead Russian policy in a different direction, risking increased instability in the Arctic. Further, Russia will, from time to time, carry out diplomatic and military actions that decrease her trustworthiness, stepping up conflict dynamics and potentially contributing to undermine Russia’s own key economic interest in maintaining regional stability. Thus, there are risks associated with the future development of Russia’s policy in the Arctic. Thirdly, therefore, the report discusses the challenges that Russia’s policy in the Arctic is likely to present to the Danish Realm. On this basis, the report concludes by outlining a number of priorities and principles that may be used as a starting point for developing specific initiatives with which Danish diplomacy can contribute to maintaining the Arctic as a stable geopolitical region characterized by relatively low tension.
Translated title of the contributionRussian Policy in the Arctic after the Ukraine Crisis
Original languageDanish
Number of pages59
ISBN (Print)978-87-7393-785-3
ISBN (Electronic)978-87-7393-785-3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016


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