Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 354

354 Arctic Yearbook 2015 once again seemed to directly respond to the long announced ‘Arctic Challenge Exercise 2015’ with yet another even larger exercise.6 At the same time, there is also a clear increase in military activities. In 2014, Russia for example increased submarine patrols in the Northern Sea by almost fifty percent (Nilsen 2015c). The amount of intercepted Russian spy aircrafts by NATO was three times higher than in 2013 (Bamford 2015). While it still seems unclear how they affect practical Arctic cooperation, spillover effects are also visible in the non-military security dimensions. For example, after being requested to register as a ‘foreign agent,’ the Nordic countries decided to close the information offices of the Nordic Council of Ministers in Northwest Russia indefinitely: The office cannot operate in the current conditions. The purpose of the Council of Ministers’ presence in Northwest Russia to create closer links and better networks between the Nordic countries and Northwest Russia is impossible to achieve as a foreign agent (The Nordic Council of Ministers 2015). In conclusion, if one was about to argue for the formation of norms of collective action in the High North, apart from those related to SAR, oil spills and the drastic consequences of climate change, these now see a severe setback as a consequence of Russia’s role in and around the Ukrainian crisis. Collective identity The AC is probably the most visible multilateral approach to a collective identity in the Arctic. The Council had a lasting effect on formulating common Arctic positions on climate change, SAR and environmental protection which is well illustrated by the Arctic states’ joint statement to the Warsaw Climate Change Conference 2013: Within the Arctic Council, we know that we can learn from each other, and cooperate to contribute to global solutions. This is why Arctic Council S tates remain firmly committed to work alongside other countries under the UNFCCC to reach – as a matter of urgency – […] the long term goal aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions so as to hold the increase in global average temperature below 2°C above pre-industrial levels (Arctic Council 2013). At the same time, the growing number of Observers to the Arctic Council – non-Arctic states as well as Intergovernmental and Inter-Parliamentary Organizations – further contributes to a recognition of the Arctic states’ new social identity (ibid.). Similar observations towards a collective Arctic identity with regards to traditional military security can hardly be made (He ininen 2014: 47) and have probably also not really been actively pursued. The annual Arctic CHOD meeting established some regional means to exchange information regarding the states’ regional military capacities to support SAR and other civilian missions (Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces 2013) and a few joint military exercises established some means of collective action for SAR, Anti-Terrorism and Anti-Piracy (Regehr & Buelles 2015: 69 ff.). However, a true collective identity for military security in the Arctic has never truly formed as national mindsets appear to be still under the influence of the Cold War (Åtland & Pedersen Torbjørn 2014: 33). Schaller