Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 336

336 Arctic Yearbook 2015 Lomonosov ridge was an extension of both Asia and North America, Russia could have claimed the entire ridge to North America. Having made a large claim would arguably give Moscow more room for compromise and would thus have been a sensible negotiation tactic for the up-coming talks with Canada and Denmark. By refraining to do so, Russia showed that it is dedicated to settle the delimitation process peacefully. If anything, Russia is more restrained than Denmark, when it comes to its claims to the central Arctic Ocean. The other Arctic coastal states have accepted that CLCS evaluates the Russian submission (Russian Federation 2015: 10-12). The Danish and Russian claims and the other states’ reactions thus show that the Ilulissat consensus still remains intact. Although the delimitation process has hitherto run peacefully, there are some clouds in the horizon that may complicate matters down the line. The Ukraine crisis is making Arctic politics more confrontational and this may affect the UNCLOS process.3 So far, the impact of the crisis has been mild in the High North, compared to its impact on other regions. Military tensions have increased as joint exercises have been cancelled (Østhagen 2014; Pettersen and Nilsen 2014). Russia and the West have shown their military strength in the region through exercises and military demonstrations (Nilsen 2014; Staalesen 2014; Anonymous 2015a). However, there have been fewer demonstrations in the Arctic than in other regions. For instance, Norwegian scrambles of Russian military planes have gone up 20%, compared to a 200% increase in NATO scrambles over the Baltics (Anonymous 2014; Ministry of National Defence, Republic of Lithuania 2014a; Ministry of National Defence, Republic of Lithuania 2014c; Ministry of National Defence, Republic of Lithuania 2014b; Ministry of National Defence, Republic of Lithuania 2014d; Ministry of National Defence, Republic of Lithuania 2015; Ministry of National Defence, Republic of Lithuania 2014e; Ministry of National Defence, Republic of Lithuania 2014f). None of the episodes that occurred between High North nations in the Arctic in 2014 are on par with the episodes from other regions, which include the alleged Russian abduction of an Estonian border guard, the alleged intrusion of a Russian submarine to the Stockholm archipelago, or several provocative incidents between military platforms in the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea (Frear, Kulesa & Kearns 2014; Frear 2015). The crisis has also complicated diplomatic cooperation in the region. Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, did not attend the 2015 Arctic Council Ministerial, thus missing his first Ministerial since 2004 (Myers 2015). Although Russia sent Sergei Donskoi, its minister of natural resources and the environment, it is difficult not to see Lavrov’s absence as a Russian protest, caused by the events in Ukraine. Shortly before the meeting, Dmitry Rogozin, the controversial head of Russia’s Arctic Commission who is banned from entering most Western countries, made a provocative visit to Svalbard. Although not a violation of the Norwegian sanctions of Russia, the visit led to audible protests from Oslo (Myers 2015; Pettersen 2015b). In 2014, Canada and the US boycotted an Arctic Council task force meeting that was scheduled to be held in Moscow (Mackarel 2014). In spite of these controversies, Arctic cooperation continues. For instance, the aforementioned 2015 ministerial showed that the Arctic states agree to continue and expand the Council’s project portfolio in the coming years. For example, the states agreed to implement several existing initiatives in areas such as climate protection, oil spill prevention, and marine protection and to take new initiatives, such as a telecommunications infrastructure experts group (Arctic Council 2015). Also, the Council Rahbek-Clemmensen