Pauline Pic & Frédéric Lasserre

This work focuses on the governance of the Arctic, through the prism of security, by analyzing arctic strategies and security policies from coastal countries around the Arctic Ocean in order to understand how they apprehend the changing Arctic. A series of interviews conducted in Norway and Canada in the Winter and Spring of 2019 complete this discourse analysis. In this exploratory work part of an ongoing research, we explore the Arctic dimension of Arctic security discourses. Since 2007,the label of Arctic security is more and more used, as a symptom that global geopolitics have reached the Arctic and that the age of exceptionalism is over. We want to question processes behind this label, trying to identify what could be specifically Arctic about Arctic security, in the changing contemporary context. This paper broadly delineates the security system at play in the Arctic today (1) through an analysis of the actor network at play and the definitions of security put forward in Arctic strategies, with a focus on the coastal states around the Arctic Ocean. It then questions current developments within this system (2), to question the scale of ‘Arctic Security’ and how it faces external powers getting more and more interested in the region.

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Gao Tianming & Vasilii Erokhin

Currently, about 80% of globally traded cargo is carried by maritime transport, including increasingly along the routes in the North, which have not been secured previously due to heavy ice conditions and extreme temperatures. In recent decades, however,climate change has been affecting the reduction of ice coverage in the Arctic Ocean and thus providing opportunities for the development of commercial navigation. Many countries are becoming increasingly interested in the exploration of opening maritime routes. With the incorporation of the Polar Silk Road into the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) network, China has rapidly emerged as the major non-Arctic actor in the region. Contributing to the development of commercial shipping in the North, China aims at the diversification of its trade routes and linking itself with Arctic countries by a network of maritime corridors. Implementation of the Polar Silk Road initiative requires first and foremost improvement of navigation safety and passability of northern routes, primarily through the Northern Sea Route (NSR). The existing network of operable routes along the Russian coastline of the Arctic Ocean allows commercial shipping during summer and autumn only. Due to the prevailing shallow depths, the operation of icebreakers is limited. Extension of the secured navigation window is hindered by the lack of icebreaking and supporting fleet and under developed navigational infrastructure in Russia. In this paper, the authors discuss how China may collaborate with Russia to ensure the development of secure navigable routes by determining the are assuitable for the development of deep-water shipping and allowing the operation of large-tonnage tankers and icebreakers. The paper presents an analysis of water areas in the NSR suitable for the development of deep-water routes and operation of large tonnage vessels with high categories of ice reinforcements. The authors provide an overview of the current condition of the shipbuilding industry in Russia in relation to the construction of vessels and marine equipment for the Arctic in such segments as icebreaking, transport, port, and dredging fleet. In the conclusion, the existing obstacles and opportunities for China and Russia are summarized in light of the establishment of more secure and stable navigation along the NSR.

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Camilla T. N. Sørensen

The U.S., Russia and China are all assigning higher strategic priority to the Arctic and are strengthening their diplomaticand military presence and activities in the region. For the U.S. and Russia, it links up with the growing security tension in the surrounding regions, e.g. the North Atlantic Ocean and the Baltic Sea region. However, the deepening great power competition with China also increasingly drives Washington’s diplomatic and military offensive in the region. For China, it is a question about ensuring access to Arctic sea routes and resources, e.g. energy, minerals and fisheries, and making sure that China gets a say in Arctic governance. The so-called “Arctic exceptionalism” – i.e. the Arctic as a low-tension region, where the great powers, despite conflicts in other regions, continue to cooperate and refrain from political and military coercion to get their way – is under pressure. This article analyzes how Arctic politics and security are increasingly intertwined with global security developments that are dominated by intensifying U.S.-China security dilemma dynamics. It further discusses the implications for China’s Arctic strategy pointing to how recent developments make it even more difficult for China as the only great power without Arctic territory to ensure its access to and influence in the region. Seen from the perspective of numerous Chinese Arctic scholars, this underlines the growing importance of strengthening China’s economic and strategic cooperation with Russia in the region.

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