Great Powers’ Competition in the Arctic: Geopolitical Rivalry in the New Political Space

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Abstract


For the past few decades, the Arctic Ocean has experienced a rapid reduction in both the extent and amount of sea ice. These events, caused by global temperature increase, opened previously inaccessible sea shipping lanes and made possible the extraction of natural resources from deposits previously inaccessible. Such changes entailed an increase in the activity of states both belonging to the Arctic region and those outside it - this led to a gradual increase in rivalry between the leading powers for the development of resources in the Arctic and for the control of shipping routes. The author points out that in the Arctic, unlike other regions, a unique situation has developed due to the interdependence of all actors, which is associated with the special environmental conditions and the commonality of both economic and public interests. The author analyzes the way how the great powers interaction affects the Arctic region. Using the example of the growing Russian-American rivalry being key for the Arctic, the author stresses a softening effect of the institutional regional base. Against this background, the level of interest of another leading power in this region - the PRC - is also growing. Unlike the Russian Federation and the USA, China adheres to the non-confrontational path in the Arctic region, advocating peace and stability strategy, which is associated mainly with the natural resource potential of the Arctic and the possibilities of using the Northern Sea Route. As a result, the rivalry of states in the northern latitudes can be described in terms of the Cold War competition on a regional scale.


About the authors

Maksim Andreevich Nikulin

RUDN University

Author for correspondence.
Email: nikulin-ma@rudn.ru
Moscow, Russian Federation

Research Assistant, Department of Theory and History of International Relations

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