Russia has failed to back up its claims of peaceful intentions in the Arctic with anything more than rhetoric
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Meanwhile, Russia’s actions and rhetoric in the Arctic leave no room to deduce anything but a firm and committed intent on the part of its leadership to secure its claims. There have been scant, if any, peaceful actions undertaken by the Putin and Medvedev administrations to back up their peace-seeking rhetoric. Calls for diplomatic resolution of territorial disputes in the Arctic and for working “within existing international agreements and mechanisms” have only been operationalized through agreements to cooperate on search and rescue efforts and on (competitive) scientific exploration and research for submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS), a forum that has no binding authority to settle such disputes. All the while, however, Russia’s ambitious militarization of the Arctic has been clearly reinforced with explicit rhetoric proclaiming its intent to defend its national security interests. For Russia, the natural resources in the Arctic are a national security asset of strategic importance.
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.