Russia and the polar marine environment: The negotiation of the environmental protection measures of the mandatory Polar Code

Review of European, Comparative and International Environmental Law, Vol 27, No 1, 2018, pp. 35-44

The International Maritime Organization's Polar Code aims at enhancing polar marine environmental protection from vessel‐source pollution. Russia, the largest Arctic coastal State will play an important role in the Code's implementation and further development. This article analyses Russia's positions and decision‐making mode during the negotiations of the Code's environmental measures. Looking at three issue areas – establishment of special areas, discharge ban of oil and oily mixtures, and reception facilities – it is evident that Russia's environmental interests took a backseat to economic concerns and zero‐sum outlook. Further, Russia's negotiating strategy was dominated by bargaining, rather than arguing, which could have produced better understanding among the negotiating parties. There was a disconnect between Russia's aims and the Code's goals, and between Russia's chosen strategy and the strategy from which its proposals could benefit most. This suggests that the Code's implementation and future development could face further challenges from Russia.