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Arctic Security: Deterrence and Detente in the Far North

Arctic Security: Deterrence and D├ętente in the High North, was posted to the Arctic Institute website by Rolf Folland on March 30, 2021. Folland took over in August 2021 as chief of the Royal Norwegian Air Force. He starts his article with the argument, "that Norway should lean its Arctic strategy more towards deterrence to avoid exploitation by a revisionist Russia while continuing to mitigate a potential security dilemma through active dialogue and cooperation on regional matters."

Fast forward to today with the Russian invasion of Ukraine about to enter its fourth month, and Folland's words seem quite prescient, especially when he states, "President Putin is no stranger to illegal aggression and violation of international law." Folland makes three observations about Russian strategy in the Arctic:

  1. Arctic resources are seen by Russia as very important to their economy;
  2. Russia will exert maximum control over the Northern Sea Route to secure those resources;
  3. Russia's focus is shifting from cooperation to deterrence.

Folland covers Russia's strong capabilities and great power intentions in the Arctic and points out their development of "hybrid tools that create ambiguity and doubt," including simulations and exercises that target Norway. He asserts the asymmetry of cooperative relations between the two nations, as well as two factors that increase the potential for conflict: "increased domestic unrest in Russia and an intensified great power rivalry in the region."

In closing, Folland "recommends that Norway lean its Arctic strategy more towards deterrence to avoid exploitation by a revisionist Russia while continuing to mitigate a potential security dilemma through active dialogue and cooperation on regional matters."