International Arctic Governance without Russia

9 Pages Posted: 3 Mar 2022

Date Written: February 25, 2022


The far-reaching invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation on 24 February 2022 poses the greatest threat to international peace and security in Europe since the end of World War II. The unjustified attack also impacts the relations between Russia and other Arctic nations, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Canada, and the United States of America (USA), all of which are members of the European Union (EU) or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), or both. In this text it will be shown how the international governance of the Arctic can be conceptualized without Russia. It will be shown that there will still be some role for the Arctic Council (AC), which is currently chaired by Russia, but that the future of international cooperation for governance in the Arctic is likely to be dominated an extended version of Nordic cooperation, here referred to as Nordic Plus, including also the like-minded partners Canada and USA. Arctic governance still has a future, but it will be a future that is very different from the experience of the last three decades. Half of the Arctic will be apart from the Nordic Plus approach to Arctic governance, at least for the foreseeable future. While this change does not have to be permanent, it is currently difficult to see how Russia will be able to return to international cooperation in the Arctic after the current complete disregard for the core idea that is the fundament for international Arctic governance: the acceptance that international relations are based on rules that equally apply to all.

Keywords: Arctic governance, Arctic Council, Ukraine, Russia, War, War Crimes, Putin

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Kirchner, Stefan, International Arctic Governance without Russia (February 25, 2022). Available at SSRN: or

Stefan Kirchner (Contact Author)

Firelaw Project ( email )



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