Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 353

353 Arctic Yearbook 2015 60 kilometres from the Finnish border. By 2016 another brigade will be established on the Yamal peninsula (Klimenko 2015). While Russia reiterated that it considers a strong Russian military presence and the protection of its interests in the Arctic by military means as an integral part of its national security (Pettersen 2015a) and also named the Arctic as key area in its new maritime doctrine (Pettersen 2015e), the Nordic ministers of defense and Iceland’s minister of foreign affairs reacted to the changed security environment in a joint declaration: The Russian aggression against Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea are violations of international law and other international agreements. Russia’s conduct represents the gravest challenge to European security. As a consequence, the security situation in the Nordic countries’ adjacent areas has become significantly worsened during the past year…. we must be prepared to face possible crises or incidents (Bentzrød 2015). This statement highlights the possibility that the Arctic states – if they ever did – seem to have lost a large degree of their unconditional belief in a common set of norms for peaceful dispute settlement in the Arctic region. Norms for collective action Within the framework of the Arctic Council, the Arctic states adopted two agreements which established legally binding mechanisms for acting cooperatively in the fields of Search and Rescue (SAR) (Arctic SAR Agreement 2011) and for reacting collectively to marine oil pollution in the Arctic (Agreement on Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic 2013). They furthermore provided joint declarations for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (Arctic Council 2015). Similar cooperation on issues of traditional military security are, if at all, expressed in a number of joint military exercises in the region with their main tasks of practicing SAR, Anti-Terrorism and AntiPiracy (Regehr & Buelles 2015: 70 ff.). Other Arctic-specific forms of military cooperation do not exist, since the countries rather focus on other multilateral defense co-operations, most notably NATO, the ‘Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO)’, or bilateral co-operation, such as between the US and Canada or between Norway and Russia. In course of the Ukrainian crisis, the picture of military cooperation and collective defense in the Arctic became even more fragmented. While all direct military cooperation with Russia – thus also all joint military exercises – was suspended, military exercises on both sides seem now to follow a perfidious geopolitical logic of escalation in which every ‘show of force’ from one side sees a direct response from the other side. After Norway’s largest military exercise in proximity to the NorwegianRussian border since 1967, Russia carried out an even larger military exercise of its Arctic Northern fleet. The disproportionate nature of Russia’s exercise becomes particularly evident considering that the Norwegian exercise was announced far ahead in time and involved around 5,000 Norwegian soldiers, while Russia’s involved a total of 38,000 soldiers and was carried out without prior notification (Mjaaland 2015). This increasing military tit-for-tat repeated itself when Russia in May The Arctic Security Community