Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 404

Commentary Russian Military Activities in the Arctic: Myths & Realities Alexander Sergunin & Valery Konyshev The outbreak of the Ukrainian crisis has spurred new accusations of Russia as being an aggressive and militarist power not only in East Europe but also in the Arctic (in addition to the charges brought earlier with regard to the planting of the titanium flag on the North Pole in 2007, resumption of naval and air patrols in the region and military modernization programs of the Russian conventional and nuclear forces deployed in the Far North). It was expected that in the wake of the crisis Moscow would dramatically increase its military activities and presence in the region as well as accelerate its military modernization programs. Some experts paid attention to the fact that Russia’s new maritime doctrine (July 2015) has identified the Arctic (along with the North Atlantic) as priority areas for the Russian navy. However, these alarmist expectations were not fulfilled. First of all, there was no any substantial paradigmatic shift regarding the Kremlin’s vision of the military power’s role in the Arctic. As before, Moscow’s military strategies aimed at three major goals: first, to demonstrate and ascertain Russia’s sovereignty over the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation (AZRF), including the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf; second, to protect its economic interests in the High North; and third, to Alexander Sergunin and Valery Konyshev are professors at the Department of International Relations, School of International Relations, St. Petersburg State University, Russia.