Changing role of military power in the Arctic

Lead Author Alexander, Sergunin
Institution Contact St. Petersburg State University, School of International Relations, 1/3 Smolny St., St. Petersburg 191060 Russia
Theme Theme 2: Vulnerability of Arctic Societies
Session Name 2.5 Geopolitics and Security of the Arctic
Datetime Thu, Sep 15, 2016 01:30 PM - 01:40 PM
Presentation Type Oral
Abstract text This paper argues that the nature and roles of military power in the Arctic have radically changed since the Cold war era. Instead of being a coercive instrument in a global military confrontation between two superpowers and capitalist and socialist systems, now military power basically has three major functions. First, to ascertain coastal states’ sovereignty over their exclusive economic zones and continental shelves in the region. Second, to protect the Arctic countries’ economic interests in the North, including mineral and bio-resources, fighting smuggling, poaching and illegal migration. Third, to carry some symbolic functions. For example, in the case of the Nordic countries military power can symbolize their Nordic solidarity (NORDEFCO project). For Sweden, its armed forces and a rather developed military-industrial complex are symbols of self-sufficiency and self-reliance in security affairs, the guarantee of its non-aligned status. For Russia, deployment of significant forces in the region and development of the military infrastructure in the High North is a demonstration of the fact that it retains its great power status and still has world-class military capabilities. These new roles, however, do not preclude military power from fulfilling its traditional function such as power projection, deterrence, containment, etc.
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