Russian military strategies in the Arctic: change or continuity?

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Series Details Vol.26, No.2, June 2017, p171-189
Publication Date June 2017
ISSN 0966-2839
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This paper examines the nature of Moscow’s military strategies in the Arctic. It is argued that the roles of military power have radically changed since the Cold War era. According to Russian strategic thinking, instead of being a coercive instrument in a global confrontation between two superpowers and capitalist and socialist systems, now military power has new functions, such as to ascertain Russia's sovereignty over its (not their) exclusive economic zone and continental shelf in the region, protect Moscow’s economic interests in the North, prevent illegal migration and potential terrorist attacks against critical industrial and infrastructural objects, fulfil some dual-use functions (such as search and rescue operations, monitoring air and maritime spaces, providing navigation safety, mitigating natural and man-made catastrophes), help academic community in developing Arctic research, and carry some symbolic functions.

These new roles, however, do not preclude military power from fulfilling its traditional functions, such as territorial defence, power projection, deterrence, and containment. Russia’s military modernisation programmes are described. The authors arrive at a conclusion that these programmes do not provoke an arms race or undermine the regional cooperation. To prevent negative security trends, a system of arms control and confidence- and security-building measures should be developed in the region.

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