Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 357

357 Arctic Yearbook 2015 its Northern neighbours. A full commitment by all Arctic states to their international obligations under the umbrella of the OSCE, such as the prior announcement of and the invitation of international observers to future large-scale military exercises in the region, could be considered an important first step. Subsequent, additional regional measures of military confidence-building – for example as proposed in the OSCE’s Vienna Document – could further contribute to détente in the High North. The strong Russian economic and energy interests in the Arctic (Sputnik News 2015) could for this purpose prove a distinct advantage, since the region’s harsh climate will continue to require multilateral efforts to live up to these interests (Yenikeyeff & Krysiek 2007: 12 f.; Nopens 2010; Bailes an& Heininen 2012: 100; Baev 2015). In this regard, the Arctic might not only be able to step out of its role as a sub-plot of the tensed European security environment, but probably even be able to transform into a proving ground for restoring trust and mutual confidence also beyond its regional borders. Nevertheless, as long as the Russian government continues to draw its power from geopolitical rhetoric and behaviour, for example by threatening Denmark with the use of nuclear weapons (Isherwood 2015), no swift improvements in the Arctic as well as in the European security environment might be expected. Whatever the future might hold for the Arctic security agenda, the Arctic states remain in control of substantially shaping it. Notes 1. The Forum so far only met at the experts’ level and will only be formally launched in the Fall of 2015. Its mandate addresses the implementation of the international search and rescue and oil spill response and prevention agreements in the Arctic. Issues of military security will not be addressed. 2. The VD’11 is a set of CSBMs that include annual exchanges of military information and on defense planning, mechanisms for risk reduction, regular military contacts, the prior notification and observation of military activities as well as measures for verification of the participating states compliance with the agreement (VD’11 2011) 3. Within the treaty on OS, all state parties have agreed to accept (passive quota) and are able to carry out (active quota) cooperatively aerial observation flights over the sovereign territories of all state parties. 4. To what degree the suspension of direct military cooperation affects the daily informal communication between both sides cannot be accurately assessed in this article. It would thus rather be speculative. 5. The Arctic coast guards have a mixed structure of both, more civilian (e.g. Canada and Sweden) as well as more military (e.g. Norway, Russia and the US). The Arctic Security Community