Arctic Diplomacy: A Theoretical Evaluation of Russian Foreign Policy in the High North

Vahid Nick Pay and Harry Gray Calvo

Russian Politics, Brill 5 (2020) 105-130; doi:10.30965/24518921-00501005

International interest in the Arctic is heating up along with the planet’s atmosphere and the region is increasingly presented as a new potential hotspot for inter-state competition and discord. Inevitably, Russia is often at the centre of this implicitly ‘realist’ narrative. This study provides an evaluation of Moscow’s Arctic policy between 2000 and 2019 from an international relation theory perspective by building upon the burgeoning literature on the Arctic and sources on Russian foreign policy in general.  This study postulates that several elements of Russian regional policy in the High North do indeed follow realist readings of the international politics yet it also demonstrates how structural realism fails to adequately account for the institutionalization of regional relations and, most notably, neglects the importance of domestic factors, specifically historical memory, towards understanding Moscow’s contemporary Arctic policy.   

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