Foreign PolicyForeign Policy

Russia-Ukraine War Threatens Arctic Peace

By Ingrid Burke Friedman

04 Apr 2022 · 7 min read

As Russian forces continue to batter civilian targets in Ukraine, acting in unrestrained defiance of international law, nations and organizations around the world have chastised and imposed harsh punishments on Moscow. But justified though this outrage may be, in some cases the perils of alienating Russia outweigh the benefits.

Here, the Arctic is a crucial case study. The region’s geopolitical importance and fragile system of governance make it fertile ground for either cooperation or conflict. And though over the past quarter century the Arctic Council has sustained a workable base level of cooperation, the consequences of a recent decision by seven of its eight member states to boycott council activities over Russia’s military aggression could prove devastating.

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