Note de recherche n°141 - 2024

Big words, small deeds Russia and China in the Arctic


Russia’s war against Ukraine has had a significant impact on the Arctic. Relations between Russia and the Arctic NATO states have deteriorated, the western Arctic states have ceased most institutional cooperation with Moscow, and the Arctic Council is paralysed. At the same time, climate change is changing the natural environment of the region. This has made it easier to extract and transport Arctic resources by sea. New Arctic shipping lanes are opening up, which is attracting military and naval powers to the High North. Russia has long focused on expanding its Arctic cooperation with China, especially in its attempts to reduce the impact of Western sanctions. Following its occupation of Crimea in 2014, Moscow could rely on Chinese investors to prop up its Arctic companies. However, since 2022, investments by Chinese partners have fallen short of Russia’s expectations. Military cooperation between Russia and China in the region has also been scarce. In light of China’s reticence to become more involved in its Arctic economy, Moscow has tried to diversify the range of its non-Arctic regional partners.


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