The impact of the Ukraine war on the Arctic

Jonas Winkel: The Impact of the Ukraine War on the Arctic, AIES Fokus 5/2023



The Arctic is considered one part of the world particularly affected by climate change, with rising temperatures transforming access to the region and its resources. This makes it an emerging geopolitical hotspot for great power competition and warrants a closer analysis of contemporary dynamics. Resource mining is becoming possible and new shipping routes are opening in the Northwest and Northeast Passages, providing alternatives to existing southern routes. In addition, fishing grounds are expanding northward.  These emerging opportunities create new desires and challenges in the Far North. As climate change progresses, the Arctic is gaining geopolitical significance. Potential economic opportunities arise from the exploitation of energy resources such as oil and gas, and the new exploration of lucrative fishing grounds. In addition, the use of polar shipping routes, which would provide a shorter connection between Eurasia and North America, is attractive to many actors. These new opportunities create overlapping interests and security challenges. In addition to the aforementioned factors, Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 significantly changes the situation. Even if the war has not spread to the Arctic, it will undoubtedly impact the geopolitical situation and cooperation between the Arctic States.

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