U.S. should work with existing Arctic framework of UNCLOS to help guide Russia's rise as an Arctic power
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The opening of the Arctic in the twenty-first century will give Russia the oppor- tunity to develop and grow as a maritime power, first in the Arctic and eventually wherever its merchant fleet carries Russian goods and returns with foreign products. This transformation of the threatening “heartland” of Mackinder and Spykman into a member of the maritime powers will require extensive effort to bring the new maritime Russia into the collaborations and partnerships of other oceangoing states. Commitment to the rule of law, shared Arctic domain awareness, joint security and safety operations, and collaboration in developing policies for the future can maintain the Arctic as a region of peace even while the coastal states maintain naval and law enforcement capabilities in the region.
The best course is to address Russia’s evolving maritime role with an Arctic regional maritime partnership based on the model of the Global Maritime Partnership initiative, expanded to address civilian interests in climate, resources, science, and conservation. The American objective should be to work collab- oratively to resolve disputes over continental shelf and fishery claims, negotiate a regional high-seas fisheries management plan, develop a regional Arctic maritime transportation plan, and coordinate security and safety policies on the ocean and ice surface and in the air, in line with the U.S. Arctic Policy and the sea services’ “Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower."
Tension between Russia and other Arctic nations will remain high as they continue to compete for Arctic territory. Maintaining UNCLOS as a viable legal framework for settling Arctic territorial claims should help avert potential confrontations between Russia and other UNCLOS members.