The Rivalry Over the Arctic Strategic Resources and Russia’s Role

Michal Romanczuk, Wojciech Jedrzejewski
European Research Studies Journal, Volume XXIV, Special Issue 4, 217-226, 2021
DOI: 10.35808/ersj/2683


Purpose: Climate changes have made previously inaccessible Arctic resources (oil, natural gas, and many metal ores, including nickel, zinc, lead and diamonds) available for extraction. With this change, the region has become an area of economic and geopolitical rivalry, where the five Arctic states (Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Russia, USA) compete with each other and external powers (e.g., China) for control over the territory and its strategic resources. The paper looks into whether those resources warrant the rivalry, and analyses methods and instruments used to establish the said control. Design/Methodology/Approach: The paper focuses on the Russian activities in the region and approaches them from the realistic perspective on international relations. The offensive realism of John J. Mearsheimer is considered as particularly important to the problem under the study. It posits that states strive to maximise their relative power in order to survive in the anarchic, self-help international system. Findings: In absence of legally-binding, universally-accepted territorial division of the Arctic and a great power able to prevent them to do so, Russian authorities have been gradually building up the country’s presence in the region. As a result, Russia’s control over part the Arctic and its strategic resources has become a fait accompli. It increased the country’s power and security, and strengthened position in future political negotiations on the Arctic issues. Practical Implications: The results of the research may contribute to the analysis of the economic and political situation in the Arctic and help companies to draft investment strategies toward the region. Originality/Value: The paper is a case study in geopolitical consequences of the climate changes and analysis of situation in the one of the most important regions of the world. It presents the state-of-affairs of energy investments in the region. It also contributes to the knowledge on economic methods and instruments of establishing control over the Arctic (a planned follow-up study will focus on military tools and activities).

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