Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 582

582       Arctic Yearbook 2014     different backgrounds coming from many Arctic countries like Russia, Canada, the United States, Finland, Norway, and other states from the European Union like France. This year’s conference was hosted in the middle of heated public debate within both Russian civil society and media over the issue of international economic and political sanctions applied to the Russian government officials and major businesses in Russia by the EU, the US, Canada and other states. These sanctions, being a result of growing international concern for Moscow’s foreign policy in the Ukraine, had become a focus for the public debate in Russia by the time the conference took place. Thus, it was without much surprise that the discussions were tainted by the context of international relations. While some participants argued against Western sanctions from a classic hardheaded Realpolitik perspective, others presented a more liberal approach arguing for the need to not ignore the implications of such foreign policy decisions on regional cooperation (and economies), and thus long term stability in BEAR and northern Europe. It was pretty clear from that perspective – based on the realities of globalization – that economic sanctions upon Russia would not and could not be a good strategy to reverse the situation in the Ukraine, and in contrast would have negative repercussions in BEAR cooperation and, in the longer term, on the work of the Arctic Council. Indeed, many participants underlined their concern that sanctions and absence of dialogue with Russia would have on the human security agenda in the High North. It was often argued that as a consequence of Western foreign policies regarding Russia – which have been projecting throughout 2014 contested stereotypes and speculations about Russian intentions in world affairs, and on Russians in general – security issues and cooperation in the Arctic are likely to be impacted in some way. A very revealing aspect of the ongoing situation between Russia and the West became quite vivid at the time of the conference: that there is a need