Troy J. Bouffard
Throughout the Cold War, the international community often feared the worst concerning environmental behavior in Russia. However, post-Soviet Russia continues to make significant progress in environmental stewardship in one specific region – its Arctic coastline and maritime region. The contrast between on- and offshore priorities remains notably disparate, especially in policies and behaviors. While previous examination remains lacking in this context, it is important to ask – how, and especially why, does Russia maintain a significantly different Arctic offshore emphasis concerning the environment? The argument supported in this article suggests that, while Russia maintains a discernible difference between Arctic land territory versus maritime behaviors, initial intuition behind “why” indicates that Russia might possibly be setting conditions in order to eventually leverage soft powers, and ultimately, jurisdiction of an expanded amount of maritime surface territory in the Arctic. In support of the examination, the use of authoritarian environmentalism provides the framework in which to view the evidence and perspectives. Two case studies provide methodology, including aspects: 1) involving notable environmental problems within Russian Arctic land territory located around Norilsk mining as well as the Usinsk oil pipeline, and 2) focusing on Russian efforts toward offshore environmental remediation, prevention, and protection efforts. The actual differences in policies and behavior seem clear as a result, and perhaps helps establish the start of a discussion concerning the “why” in order to start investigating the potential greater reasoning behind such environmental behaviors, and maybe even what to anticipate.