Breaking the Ice Curtain? Russia, Canada, and Arctic Security in a Changing Circumpolar World

P. Whitney Lackenbauer, Suzanne Lalonde, Viatcheslav Gavrilov, P. Whitney Lackenbauer, Alexander Sergunin, Troy Bouffard, Andrea Charron, Jim Fergusson, Robert Huebert, Suzanne Lalonde
Content Type
Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
Canada and Russia are the geographical giants, spanning most of the circumpolar world. Accordingly, the Arctic is a natural area of focus for the two countries. The region plays strongly into their identity politics, with leaders often invoking sovereignty and security frames to drum up support for investments in this “frontier of destiny.”1 The purported need to protect sovereign territory and resources from foreign encroachment or outright theft, backed by explicit appeals to nationalism, can produce a siege mentality that encourages a narrow, inward-looking view. Although the end of the Cold War seemed to portend a new era of deep cooperation between these two Arctic countries, lingering wariness about geopolitical motives and a mutual lack of knowledge about the other’s slice of the circumpolar world are conspiring to pit Canada and the Russian Federation as Arctic adversaries. Are Russian and Canadian Arctic policies moving in confrontational direction? Can efforts at circumpolar cooperation survive the current crisis in Russian-Western relations, or does an era of growing global competition point inherently to heightened Arctic conflict?
Defense Policy, Sovereignty, International Security, Territorial Disputes, Military Affairs
Political Geography
Russia, Canada, North America, Arctic