Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 290

290 International cooperation Russia’s perception of other countries’ strategies Militarization of the Arctic Symbolic actions Arctic Yearbook 2015 The Arctic Council is the best platform for international cooperation. There is no confrontation in the Arctic Council. The Arctic may promote rapprochement between Russia and the West. The Western countries are attempting to make the Arctic a conflict zone by presenting Russia as being aggressive. Russia’s military build-up is a legitimate ensuring of its national security, a reaction to the military activity of other countries and the effects of climate change. There is no need for military solutions in the Arctic. The Arctic is a territory of dialogue. Photos with the Arctic partners at the North Pole. There is a battle over the firstmover advantage in the Arctic. The Arctic should be Russia’s. The increased interest by other countries in the Arctic creates security risks for Russia. Russia is ready to protect its interests in the Arctic by military means. Solo photos of Russia’s explorers and officials at the North Pole. Conclusions The foreign and domestic discourse on the Russian Arctic balances between the need to maintain favourable relations with international partners and, at the same time, to achieve competitive advantages in the region. In the domestic governmental discourse there is a stress on the strategic importance of the Arctic for Russia. The development of the Russian Arctic is vitally important for Russia as a great power. Russia’s geographical location and historical achievements in the region give it a natural competitive advantage for being the leading power in the region. The strategic aim of Russia’s state policy in the Arctic is to keep that status and to develop it further. “Making the Arctic Russia’s” is the essence of the domestic discourse which contradicts its cooperation-oriented foreign discourse, but these discourses serve different purposes. Since the domestic discourse is targeted to internal audiences, one of its functions is to maintain national pride, and at a symbolic level, Russia’s achievements in the Arctic provide the foundation for that. Whereas the aim of the foreign discourse is to maintain favourable relations with partners, there is an emphasis on cooperation. However, this contradiction can be used in arguing that Russia is hiding its true intentions and is misleading other states. Some of the leaders of Western countries are indeed attempting to portray Russia as an aggressor in the Arctic. However, it would be more appropriate to say that Russia’s military build-up in the Arctic is primarily a tool of strategic deterrence. That assertion is based on the consideration that all the major players in the Arctic region are developing their military presence, and that Russia is indeed placing an emphasis in its foreign policy on the interdependence of interests in the Arctic, the necessity for cooperation and respect for legal norms. Therefore, it is much more likely that the Arctic could serve instead for Russian-Western rapprochement rather than becoming the next geopolitical hot spot. At the same time, using a peaceful and defensive foreign Foreign & Domestic Discourse on the Russian Arctic