Concerning issue of possibility of cooperation between Russia and U.S. in the Arctic

Putin’s meeting with Biden ended more successfully than expected

Concerning issue of possibility of cooperation between Russia and U.S. in the Arctic

Of course, both the Russian and American presidents did not reconsider their views and did not retreat from their positions on any of the issues. But, probably, the parties have learned to manage this disagreement.

In addition to the words of respect of each of the leaders towards each other, in addition to one joint statement on strategic stability, one important point should be noted, which was identified during the meeting and to which considerable attention was paid. We are talking about cooperation between Russia and the United States in the Arctic.

The problem here is that the Arctic is just that potential field of cooperation between Russia and the Euro-Atlantic as a whole, which has not yet been largely actualized in international politics. Russia is one of the eight sub-Arctic states that have access to the Arctic Circle and for this reason are members of the Arctic Council. Russia currently chairs this organization, and of all the Arctic states, it has the largest part of the Arctic shelf. Russia, according to the Maritime Convention, controls the Northern Sea Route, just as another large Arctic state – Canada – controls the Northwest Passage. The problem here is that the main opponent of the current system of Arctic governance is China, which in 2018 declared itself a “subarctic” state.

Not a single member of the Arctic Council, including Russia, currently recognizes China’s Arctic ambitions and does not support its desire to level the geographic factor in Arctic politics. The fact that Vladimir Putin paid such significant attention to the Arctic topic at his press conference and the fact that this topic was discussed in such detail at the expanded format of the summit is undoubtedly evidence of the pragmatic interest of both sides in establishing cooperation.

If the trend towards de-escalation and cooperation continues and is not torpedoed by anti-Russian lobbyists in the West, this could mean the following. Russia may find some limited freedom of maneuver in the context of the unfolding conflict between the United States and China, which, in fact, risks turning into a Cold War of the 21st century. The Russian Federation acquires the opportunity to conduct a full-fledged strategic dialogue with each of the two poles of the current global system, in other cases preventing a possible conflict between them. In this sense, the Arctic agenda is very beneficial for Russia.

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