In its efforts to limit the Western defence posture in the Arctic, Russia has successfully exploited the “High North, low tension” mantra and the notion of the Arctic as an exceptional region of peace and cooperation.

At the same time, Russia has managed to build its position of relative strength in the Arctic through systematically developing its military capabilities.

To create a threat of escalation, Russia has also used offensive military exercises and disruptive hybrid operations against the Western Arctic states in the region.

Arctic economic resources and military assets continue to play an essential role for Russia in pursuing its strategic goals, and for its ability to carry out acts of aggression. Through regional cooperative practices, the West has unintentionally facilitated this capacity.

The West has limited its military activity in the Arctic to mitigate tensions. This has been a one-sided effort. The Western Arctic states should thus focus on building comprehensive deterrence in the region.

Samu Paukkunen
Pekka Toveri
Associerad forskare