What does the recent burst of Russian military activity or brinkmanship, as some have characterized it, mean for the Arctic? While current Russia-NATO strategic posturing may accurately reflect the sorry depths to which relations between Russia and most of the Western world have sunk, a new SIPRI report on “Russia’s Evolving Arctic Strategy” is among some timely antidotes to the return-of-the-cold-war-in-the-Arctic narrative.
Close encounters with the Russian military do seem to be on the rise. Russian bombers have been on more frequent flights over the Barents, Norwegian, and Baltic Seas, as well as along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North America. Further south there has been a Russian air presence over NATO vessels in the Black Sea, and ships of the Russian navy sailed near Australia’s northern exclusive economic zone in a not fully appreciated military accompaniment to the G-20 summit.