By Paul Goble
Ever since the other members of the Arctic Council announced they would not cooperate with Russia in the wake of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine even though Moscow is currently its chairman in office, there has been talk that Russia would exit the Council and even form its own that would include China and other friendly powers (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2022/06/moscow-may-create-alternative-arctic.html).
This week, that talk has intensified following the appearance of an article in the Wall Street Journal arguing that the US to should seek the return of Wrangel Island which is now under Russian control. (For that article, see wsj.com/articles/russia-occupies-american-land-wrangle-island-arctic-soviet-russia-putin-lenin-national-security-11667597158; for initial Russian reaction, see stoletie.ru/rossiya_i_mir/v_arktike_rastet_naprazhennost_960.htm.)
Now, Elena Pustovoytova, a security expert at Moscow’s Strategic Culture Foundation, says Russia’s exit from the Arctic Council is rapidly “becoming inevitable” because of American pretensions, the inclusion of Finland and Sweden in NATO, and the growing risk of “a major conflict” in the Arctic (fondsk.ru/news/2022/11/14/vyhod-rossii-iz-arkticheskogo-soveta-stanovitsja-neizbezhnym-57671.html).
According to the Moscow analyst, all this will leave Russia in the Arctic Council “one on one with NATO.” That is an unacceptable situation because it seems clear the other members will either ignore Russia and its interests or seek to dictate to Moscow what it can and cannot do. In that situation, Russia has little choice but to leave, Pustovoytova says.