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