Putin’s war in Ukraine jeopardizes Russia’s expansive goals in the Arctic

The Arctic Trefoil, a Russian military base on Alexandra Land island near the North Pole built in 2017 (Image: delphi.lv)

The Arctic Trefoil, a Russian military base on Alexandra Land island near the North Pole built in 2017 (Image: delphi.lv) 

Opinion, Russia

Edited by: A. N.

In small ways and large, Vladimir Putin’s recent escalation of the Russian war in Ukraine has “put in jeopardy” Moscow’s expansive goals in the Arctic, not only making it unlikely that Russia will be able to complete its development of LNG projects there anytime soon but also compromising Moscow’s ability to use its chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

Sanctions against Russian banks and also against Russian shipbuilding companies make it unlikely that Moscow will be able to find the money needed to go forward with its plans for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) development in the Arctic and build the ships that are central to that effort.

Related: Moscow pushing even more expansive claims on Arctic (2021)

But potentially far more serious is what has just happened in the Arctic Council. Russia is currently chairman of that eight-member body, but all seven other members have now denounced Moscow for its war in Ukraine and announced that they will not send their representatives to Russia for future meetings.

Related: Moscow set to claim even more of Arctic on basis of research by Russian Navy (2022)

The seven have issued a joint declaration saying that they “condemn Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and note the grave impediments to international cooperation, including in the Arctic that Russia’s actions have caused” and that they are suspending participation in all meetings of the council for the time being.

Given that Moscow had hoped to use its chairmanship to advance its geopolitical and geoeconomic interests in the Arctic, the decision of all other members of the Council to take this step means that Moscow will not be able to use this venue in the way it had planned.

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Edited by: A. N.
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