Arctic security relations are fraught. State-to-state security relations are the tensest they have been since the end of the Cold War. Hotlines between military command centres exist, but confidence-building measures and dialogue are absent. Since March 2022, cooperation with Russia in the Arctic Council has been limited, whereas the country withdrew from the Barents Cooperation.

Arctic tension does not primarily come about because of issues in the Arctic region but because of spill-over from conflict in other parts of the world. Still, tension is manifesting in military exercises, suspended multilateral and bilateral cooperation, and provocative statements by Russian politicians. This is particularly apparent in the Barents Sea domain. Here, the Norwegian government still maintains the idiom ‘High North, low tension’ – not as a description of realities, but as an aspiration. On the other side of the Pole, in the Bering Sea, different security dynamics are emerging in the wake of increased Sino-Russo cooperation.

What allows so-called ‘low tension’ in the High North? What enabled relatively stable security relations until 2022? How do the various mechanisms that influence state behaviour operate in the Arctic? How did relations change after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022? And how, where, and with what focus can Arctic security governance mechanisms expand, if at all?

Over three years we will explore these questions. The first two years are dedicated to work packages that grapple with three dimensions (3D) – deterrence, dependence, and dialogue – in unpacking the security dynamics in the Arctic both before and after 2022. Some of the world’s foremost Arctic experts will ensure that we bring the debate on Arctic security relations up to speed. In the final year, we will embark on two tasks: synthesising findings through scenario workshops, and linking Arctic security governance with global as well as other region-specific governance trends.

Project period: 2024-2026


Arctic3D – Leader team/coordination: Prof. Neumann; Dr Østhagen; Dr Jørgensen; Dr Rowe

RQ 1 – (January 2024–December 2025)

WP 1 – Deterrence

Case 1: Nordic security dilemma

   -   Dr Andreas Østhagen (FNI)

   -   Lin A. Mortensgaard (KU)

   -   Dr Samu Paukkunen (FIIA)

   -   Prof. Silja B. Ómarsdóttir (ICE)

Case 2: Security in the Bering Sea

   -   Dr Rebecca Pincus (Wilson)

   -   Dr Andreas Østhagen (FNI)

WP 2 – Dependence

Case 1: Barents/Bering fisheries

   -   Dr Anne-Kristin Jørgensen (FNI)

   -   Dr Andrey Todorov (Harvard)

   -   Prof. Geir Hønneland (FNI)

Case 2: Petroleum interdependence

   -   Prof. Arild Moe (FNI)

   -   Ida Soltvedt Hvinden (FNI)

WP 3 – Dialogue

Case 1: Track-two dialogue

   -   Dr Elana W. Rowe (NMBU)

   -   Dr Andreas Raspotnik (FNI)

   -   Dr Andreas Østhagen (FNI)

   -   Prof. Whitney Lackenbauer (TU)

Case 2: Arctic Council

   -   Dr Svein Rottem (FNI)

   -   Serafima Andreeva (FNI)

   -   Pavel Devyatkin (TAI)

RQ 2 & 3 – Scenarios and Governance (January 2026 – December 2026)

WP 4 – Scenarios and risk reduction

Lead: Dr Elena Dybtsyna (NORD)

   -   The whole project group

WP 5 – Global and regional security governance

Lead: Dr Andreas Østhagen (FNI)

   -   Dr Rebecca Pincus (Wilson)

   -   Prof. Iver B. Neumann (FNI)

   -   Prof. Jennifer Welsh (McGill)

Users and communication (2024–2026):

Norwegian users:

- Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

- Norwegian Ministry of Defence

- Arctic Parliamentarians / Norwegian Parliament

- Norwegian Joint Headquarters

US users:

- Arctic Parliamentarians / US Senate

- US DoD Arctic Strategic Office

- State Dep. Arctic Security Officer

- US Coast Guard Academy

Communication / engagement:

- Fridtjof Nansen Institute (coordination & Oslo events)

- The Arctic Institute (early-career outreach & op-eds)

- Woodrow Wilson Center (events/workshop in DC)

- High North Center at Nord University

(Arctic course and scenario workshop in Bodø)

- Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies (Alaska event and outreach)



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