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The Arctic is marked by extensive cooperation at many levels, underpinned by the Arctic Council and the international legal framework provided by the Law of the Sea. People in the Arctic have cooperated, traded and engaged in common projects for thousands of years. At the same time, the region is marked by a longstanding security rivalry and the geopolitical strategies of strong powers have the potential to create new precedents for the Arctic. How do the major powers – the US, Russia and China – view circumpolar developments? Are their interests still well-served by cooperation? What are the pressing Arctic issues that can and should progress, despite the dynamics of great power rivalry?

Please join us for an afternoon of discussion and debate – and enrich the Q&A with your questions. There will be opportunity to send in questions in advance by email (see link in each panel) and live in our Microsoft Teams Live digital seminar format.

Panel 1: Norwegian Arctic perspectives: A conversation with Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide


  • Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide with NUPI director Ulf Sverdrup

This conversation will explore how Norway views Arctic risks and opportunities. How does Norway navigate Arctic politics marked by the NATO–Russia security divide and increasing geopolitical rivalry? What are the prospects for cooperation in the Arctic and the Barents region in the medium-term?

Panel 2: Domestic preoccupations and international aspirations: A view from Russia’s Arctic


  • Julie Wilhelmsen (NUPI, chair), Aleksander Sergunin (St. Petersburg State University) and Helge Blakkisrud (NUPI)

Russia’s Arctic is vast and, in contrast to other Arctic coastal states, the high latitudes are an integral part of the Russian national economy. Russia’s Arctic approaches are also shaped by increasingly complex and changing center–regional relations. This panel explores questions such as: What are key challenges for Russia in the ‘domestic’ Arctic and how is the international circumpolar stage viewed in Moscow? What can we expect from Russia in the coming years in the Barents Region and as incoming chair of the Arctic Council?

Panel 3: China in Arctic politics and ocean governance


  • Henrik S. Hiim (NUPI, chair), Alf Håkon Hoel (University of Tromsø), Yun Sun (Stimson Institute, DC)

China’s role in the Arctic is debated in policy circles, from responsible/inevitable Arctic actor to Arctic security threat. China’s preferences and positions are – to some extent – in keeping with broader positions on foreign policy and ocean governance.

This panel brings together China experts and an ocean governance scholar to debate. Is China’s Arctic politics unique to the Arctic or a general expression of foreign policy preferences? How does China’s role in ocean governance map onto its Arctic engagement? To what extent do potential China-Russia convergence shape China’s Arctic strategy and opportunities?

Panel 4: American Arctic Perspectives


  • Jim DeHart in conversation with Elana Wilson Rowe (NUPI)

This conversation will explore how the USA views Arctic risks and opportunities. How does the US view and navigate Arctic security concerns? What are the prospects and priorities for cooperation in the Arctic in the medium-term?

Panel 5: US Arctic Politics: Steady course or changing track?


  • Karsten Friis (NUPI, chair), Rebecca Pincus (US Naval War College), Robert Orttung (George Washington University) and Mike Sfraga (Polar Institute, Woodrow Wilson Center)

The Arctic states have recently concluded four binding regional agreements – all of which have had US leadership and three of which have been co-chaired with Russia. Great power leadership has been important for building the architecture of Arctic governance we have today. The US Arctic policy community has deep roots – and a longstanding commitment to providing science-based advice as well as bringing the concerns of Alaskans to the Beltway.

How durable are these policy networks in an era of populistic domestic politics and a paralysing pandemic? The Arctic has also featured in new defense strategies – with China and Russia cited as security threats to the US in the Arctic. What are the key tenets of American Arctic security policy and how have these principles changed under the Trump Administration? What do our panellists see as the next moves in American Arctic diplomacy in the ‘international’ Arctic and during the Russian Arctic Council chairmanship?