Navigating Breakup: Security realities of freezing politics and thawing landscapes in the Arctic
6 January 2023
Here, the main takeaway is that leaders must – regardless of the cessation of cooperation with Russia and the radical uncertainty shaping the broader political environment – continue to take steps to mitigate and manage the risks to regional stability in the Arctic. [...] In the Arctic these tipping points include the physical integrity of permafrost, stability of the Greenland ice sheet, and the strength of the major Atlantic Ocean conveyor belt, the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), which contains the Gulf Stream. [...] The new Russian naval doctrine defines the Arctic seas as an area of vital interest and identifies any expansion of the US and NATO military presence there as a major threat with conflict potential.42 Typically, the main driver of this competition in the eyes of Russian policymakers is the Western desire to control natural resources, with the lack of any reliable estimates of this imagined ‘treasu. [...] The Russian high command considers modernization of the sea leg of the strategic triad of pivotal importance, reflected in the fact that the construction of the new Borei-class series of SSBNs constitutes the single most expensive project in the 2027 SAP. [...] The pattern of mutual restraint in the High North still holds, despite the fiasco of Russia’s chairmanship in the Arctic Council, but every setback in the Ukraine war changes the rationality of decision-making in the Kremlin, and it is in the Arctic that NATO deterrence can be tested.