Discussing the Influence of the Russian-Ukrainian Conflict in the High North

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Bal A., Dalaklis D., Bartuseviciene I., Başar E.

AYIL- American Yearbook of International Law, vol.2, no.1, pp.117-167, 2024 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)


Numerous nations worldwide are currently grappling with the challenges posed by climate change. In particular, the Arctic region, historically inhospitable to human activities due to its icy terrain, is undergoing rapid transformation. The melting of polar ice has opened up new sea routes and unlocked access to valuable energy resources. Consequently, several nations are vying to expand their influence in the Arctic, leading to heightened territorial claims and jurisdictional disputes. This growing competition is not only influenced by internal dynamics but is also exacerbated by external geopolitical events, with recent developments in Ukraine being a prominent example. These global power plays have the potential to turn the Arctic into a battleground for nations seeking to enhance their standing in the international arena, thereby creating political ripples across the broader region. This paper adopts a structural framework rooted in offensive neo-realist theory, drawing upon existing research to analyze the situation. It identifies two key inputs in the Arctic region: climate change (X1) as the primary driver and the armed conflict in Ukraine (X2) as a secondary factor. The study evaluates the possibility of a "spillover of tensions in the Arctic" as a potential outcome (Y1). Additionally, it recognizes the existence of a second potential outcome, an "icebreakers race" (Y2), which warrants further investigation. Within the scope of this paper, it was highlighted that the Svalbard Treaty effectively serves the Arctic. Furthermore, Russia's position in the Arctic and its political perspective was discussed. Finally, proposals for solutions to avoid any further tensions were identified.

KEYWORDS: Arctic; Geopolitics; Russia; Security Dilemma; Svalbard Treaty