After Ukraine: Keeping the Arctic Stable

How can Arctic states prevent the region from becoming a pawn in outside conflicts or domestic crises? Mikkel Runge Olesen believes that the states must inject greater consistency and stability into their national Arctic strategies.

The greatest challenge to the stability of the Arctic actually comes from outside the region itself, but there are still strong reasons to be optimistic about security in the Arctic region. The present state of affairs in the Arctic must be considered benign, even after the onset of the Ukranian crisis. The basic reason for this is interests. While global warming is a threat to wildlife and ecosystems, it is not necessarily a bad thing in economic and political terms: resources that were once inaccessible gradually become more accessible. Most of the resources that are relatively easy to extract are found in territories that have already largely been divided.


- Overstating conflict over resources in the Arctic is not helpful. States should refrain from threats and create    an atmosphere of trust. This will also make the region more resilient to the emerging security dilemmas.
- Leaders should seek domestic consensus for an Arctic strategy. This will make it harder to use the Arctic as   venue for retaliation against slights suffered elsewhere, and discourage cheap domestic gains on the Arctic.
- Small states have a great interest in strengthening Arctic institutions and the Arctic Council.

And extracting them requires stability. Add to this that on average all Arctic states including Russia, have behaved unaggressively in the region, creating a security environment based on mutual trust and goodwill. This has been aided by the increasing influence of the Arctic Council and by the de facto acceptance of United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as the basis for negotiations by all parties.

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