Governance of the Arctic region is robust, orderly and sound. There are multiple forums for cooperation. These forums have survived and thrived through conflict and tension. There is no indication that any state might withdraw from any of these forums, or that the future of any institution is in question.
According to recent assessments, the Arctic Ocean may be largely ice-free during summers by the late 2030s, if not sooner. The dramatic changes currently taking place in the northern part of the globe may affect interstate relationships and regional security dynamics in a number of ways.
Over ten years ago, the US Geological Survey estimated that over 22% of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas resources are located in the Arctic, most of it offshore. Since then, there has been a string of reports about the ensuing ‘race’, ‘fight’, and ‘scramble’ for these resources. But the predicted rush for Arctic resources has not begun.
One look at the map of the Arctic allows us to understand why the region is strategically important to Russia. In control of nearly half of the latitudinal circle, vast natural resources and militarily critical parts of the region, Moscow has both high stakes and a unique position to influence the regional developments.