Explaining the militarization of Russian polar politics

Russia’s policies for the polar regions overlap and are increasingly becoming militarized, as the perception of threats to Russian national interests grows.

Explainer Video Updated 19 January 2023 Published 25 September 2022 5 minute watch

The militarization of Russian polar politics

— Russia’s policies for the polar regions overlap and are increasingly becoming militarized, as the perception of threats to Russian national interests grows.

This has direct consequences for other polar nations and for NATO and its allies. In the Arctic, a fear of encirclement by NATO and its allies informs this posture – heightened by worsening relations with the West over Russia’s renewed war against Ukraine and potential NATO expansion.

Mathieu Boulègue, senior research fellow in the Russia and Eurasia programme at Chatham House explains why a key Russian goal is to secure control over the Northern Sea Route amid increased human activity prompted by climate change.

He says that, in Antarctica, Russia perceives a need to protect its national interests against other state parties to the Antarctic Treaty System.

This video supports a research paper which details the reasons behind Russia’s militarized postures in the Arctic and Antarctic regions, and recommends ways to mitigate risks for the US, NATO and their allies.

Supplementary analysis on Arctic security, Exploring military security issues in the Arctic, is available via Chatham House’s Library.