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Research paper


Changing or frozen narratives? The Arctic in Russian media and expert commentary, 2021–2022



Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 has brought Russia–West relations to its lowest point since the Cold War. Relations in the Arctic region are not excepted, evidenced not least by the other seven member states’ pausing their participation in Russia’s Arctic Council chairmanship (which concluded in May 2023). To the extent that “Arctic exceptionalism” – the notion that the Arctic has been characterised by a cooperative mode between Russia and the West which has remained relatively untouched by increasing tensions elsewhere – was ever an appropriate description, Western analysts have now declared it firmly dead.

How does this situation look from within Russia? This research paper investigates how the Russian state media and the foreign policy expert community have portrayed the Arctic in 2021 and 2022. How much change has been seen since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine? By surveying “the story about the Arctic” as presented by mainstream narrators and experts, we gain insights into, among other things, how changes in Arctic cooperation, sanctions, the role of China in the Arctic, and the question of climate change are conveyed to Russian audiences.

The paper proceeds as follows. We start by briefly explaining the methods and data used. We then present a portrayal of the Arctic in Russia’s government’s newspaper Rossiiskaya gazeta, followed by the role of the Arctic in analyses published by the Russian International Affairs Council and the journal Russia in Global Affairs. Lastly, we conclude by discussing a general continuity in the way the Arctic is framed in the material, and foreground three core themes: climate change, security, and cooperation.
  • Published year: 2023
  • Publisher: NUPI
  • Page count: 14
  • Language: English
  • URL 1: https://hdl.handle.net/11250/3106592
  • URL 3:


  • Utenrikspolitikk
  • Russland og Eurasia
  • Arktis