Russia’s cooperation with Asian observers to the Arctic Council

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Despite being regarded as non-Arctic states, a number of Asian countries have been developing their Arctic policies and activities since mid-1990s. Being interested in securing its national interests and unique status of an Arctic great power, Russia till roughly 2013 had opposed non-Arctic countries’ engagement in Arctic issues. However, since 2013, Russia has been changing its approach with regard to participation of non-Arctic states in Arctic activities, considering them as partners. This article analyzes commercial cooperation between Russia and five Asian observers to the Arctic Council in the development of Arctic natural resources and the Northern Sea Route in the years of 2013–2020. It demonstrates how Moscow finds the balance between the need to protect its national interests in the Arctic and the necessity to cooperate with Asian countries as capable of providing Russia with financial capital and advanced technologies indispensible for further Arctic development. The author characterises Russia’s current approach towards Arctic cooperation with Asian partners as cautious pragmatism − a desire to develop beneficial partnerships with non-Arctic states within certain limits in a controllable scope. The conclusions would certainly suggest that currently, despite official rhetoric and numerous publicised plans for cooperation in the Arctic, Russia’s actual commercial engagement with Asian states is still modest. So far, the most dynamic and successful cooperation was that relating to the Arctic LNG projects. Russia and its Asian counterparts have found that moving beyond political declarations might be quite difficult. The article also concludes that while all five Asian countries search for business opportunities as contractors for Russia’s Arctic projects, only few of them − China and Japan − are ready to provide investment or financing.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPolar Journal
StateE-pub ahead of print - 24 Feb 2021

Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


  • Arctic
  • Asian countries
  • china
  • lng
  • russia
  • shipbuilding
  • the Northern Sea Route


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