Research Project

Can cooperative Russian and Western Arctic policies survive the current crisis in Russian-Western relations? (CANARCT)

2016 - 2019 (Completed) Project number: 257638/H30

This project addresses Russia's Arctic policy provisions compared with other states. Can cooperative Russian and Western Arctic policies survive the current crisis in Russian-Western relations?

Is Russia's Arctic policy developing in a more confrontational direction? Or will it remain conducive to constructive cooperation with other states in the region, thus preserving the Arctic as a distinct policy field?

We hypothesize three potential and distinct modes of policy-making that may result in different Russian approaches to the Arctic: a "realist mode" centred on security and distribution of power, an "institutionalist mode" centred on preserving cooperation within established institutional regimes, and a "diplomatic management mode" also centred on security interests, but characterized by cautious adjustment of courses of action within different policy and geographical areas.

This project traces the changing weight of these modes in the Russian debate on the Arctic, as well as how these modes condition Russian policies in and on the region. Our analytical point of departure is that Russian Arctic policy must be understood as a product of a dynamic "two-level game" between domestic and international factors.

On the one hand, official policies are shaped by domestic actors and institutions that protect and project various views and interests, and are therefore subject to negotiation on the domestic arena. On the other hand, a state's security policies and relations are not formulated in isolation from the policies of other states. If the Arctic comes to be viewed also by Western Arctic powers as primarily an arena for state-contestation and security, that will play into and shape Russian policies. In line with these assumptions, the project will complement the study of how Russian Arctic policy is produced with supplementary case studies of the Arctic policies of two of Russia's Western Arctic partners, Norway and the USA.

Watch the Russia Conference 2018, summing up results from the project:




The following seminars have been organized as part of this project outside NUPI:



Follow CANARCT updates on Twitter:

Publications by external project contributors:

See an overview of NUPI's work on the Arctic and Russia and Eurasia here and here.

Funding program

NORRUSS