Publié le 21/08/2012

Pavel BAEV

The interplay of the foreign, domestic and military dimensions of Russia's Arctic policy is characterized by peculiar incompatibilities. The position of power secured by the military superiority and ambitious modernization of strategic forces is supposed to grant Moscow strong influence and tangible advantages in the Arctic relations.

In fact, military build-up generates suspicions among neighbors in the Arctic and has prompted them to urge NATO to pay more attention to the former “Northern flank”. The heavy concentration of naval units and military-industrial enterprises in the Murmansk and Arkhangelsk regions is supposed to make them into a solid support base for the regime of president Vladimir Putin, while in reality problems with Armed Forces reform have produced discontent in the ranks and problems with financing the shipbuilding program lead to social tensions.

The official talk about expanding Arctic cooperation and opening the Northern Sea Route is increasingly met with disbelief in North-Western Russia, where any protest acquires “strategic” importance due to high attention from the Nordic neighbors and implicit involvement of, or impact upon the Northern Fleet.