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EEF-2022: Asian Countries in the Arctic Dialogue

EEF-2022: Asian Countries in the Arctic Dialogue

© Evgeny Reutov / Roscongress Foundation

The Eastern Economic Forum took place place in Vladivostok. The participants of the ‘Eastern Dimension of International Cooperation in the Arctic’ session stated that joint research will help to find mutual understanding between the circumpolar states and the countries of the Asia-Pacific region. HSE News Service covers some sessions in which experts from HSE University took part.

Anastasia Likhacheva, session moderator, Dean of HSE Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, stressed that the discussion of the problems of the circumpolar region has brought together experts from different countries. Russia plays a leading role in research and ensuring security in the region, so attempts to exclude it from regional organizations are futile, states Likhacheva. ‘It’s important to discuss cooperation in the Arctic in a broader context,’ added the dean.

Nikolay Korchunov, Ambassador-at-Large of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, noted that in recent years, the APR countries have been working more actively in the Arctic and demonstrating a constructive approach to cooperation in the region. He added that the most important areas of cooperation are the environmental and climate agenda, as well as the development of the Northern Sea Route (NSR).

Wang Wen, Executive Dean of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China (RDCY), stressed that the situation in the polar region, including the melting of the ice caps, is affecting the climate of Northern China, so he has intensified research into permafrost, along with cooperation with scientists from the circumpolar countries, and is also developing infrastructure projects in the Far North. ‘By relying on our knowledge, we want to protect the region, and participate together with the governments of all countries in creating a sustainable development community in the Arctic,’ said Wan Wen. He noted that China, as a global player, carefully participates in Arctic projects in order not to violate the interests of the circumpolar countries.

Anastasia Likhacheva, Glenn Diesen
© Daniil Krivosheev / HSE University

Anastasia Likhacheva asked Glenn Diesen, Professor at the Department of Business, History and Social Sciences of the University of South-Eastern Norway, about the risks and trends in bilateral relations. Diesen considers cooperation in the Arctic to be one of the success stories of bilateral relations, which stands out from the current geopolitical confrontation. However, relations between Moscow and Oslo may become more complicated. The weakening of the European security system is affecting the Arctic. In the past, Norway has tried to find a balance between conscientious membership of NATO and the status of a good neighbor for Russia. ‘Now the balance is upset, new military bases are emerging, we are becoming more dependent on the United States, and this creates more challenges,’ says Diesen. Russia, by turning to the East, seeks to use multipolarity, diversify cooperation and trade, and work on establishing cooperation with China and India.

‘I would like to focus cooperation in the Arctic, to take it beyond geopolitics,’ said Glenn Diesen.

‘We have a difficult security situation, but there are still subjects we can have a dialogue about. One of these subjects is joint research. Permafrost is not so permanent, and it will definitely not wait for politicians and countries to reach agreement,’ says Anastasia Likhacheva.

Hide Sakaguchi, President of the Ocean Policy Research Institute of Sasakawa Peace Foundation, noted that problems should be solved through peaceful dialogue: ‘The Arctic is located on the top of the world, and it’s a serious challenge to work together in the region. God gave us this job, we must do it together.’ In his opinion, the most important area of bilateral cooperation with Russia may be the development of hydrogen energy technologies.Artem Lukin, Associate Professor of the Department of International Relations at the Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU), drew attention to the fact that there were more international participants at the session than Russian ones.

Now Vladivostok, as city and port, earns more through trade with Asia than by transarctic transportation, but it can become a connecting point between Asia and the Arctic, and a transshipment terminal is being built specifically for this.

Satish Soni, Navy Officer of the Republic of India (1976–2016), Commander-in-Chief of Southern Naval Command and Eastern Naval Command of the Republic of India (2012–2016), noted that India, China, South Korea, Japan and Singapore are all interested in the development of the Arctic and are ready to provide their shipbuilding technologies. He added that the development of the NSR will reduce the risks of navigation in the South China ocean and the Indian Ocean that have arisen as a result of piracy. Asian states are also interested in exploring natural resources in the region including metals, gas, oil and other minerals that are important for the industry development.

Asian countries are participating in the Arctic dialogue, but it is difficult for them to put forward initiatives when eight major circumpolar states have suspended cooperation. Satish Soni called on China, India, South Korea and Singapore to unite with the Arctic countries and work on a flexible approach to cooperation. ‘We cannot act from a position of strength, we need to work, taking into account the interests of all countries, and apply the best practices that exist,’ says Soni.

Anastasia Likhacheva noted that Russia bears great responsibility for the situation in the region and its development, but great responsibility also implies great power.

The ‘The Global Impact of the Russian Arctic: Opportunities for South Asia’ session was also dedicated to cooperation in the Arctic region. Anastasia Likhacheva as well as researchers at HSE Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs Alexey Zakharov and Olga Kharina took part in the event. The session was organized by HSE Centre for Comprehensive European and International Studies and the Roscongress Foundation. The event was held as part of the ‘Think Arctic – Think Global’ project under the auspices of Russia's chairmanship in the Arctic Council in 2021-2023.

‘Long-term trends are absolutely sustainable, it is promising, mutually beneficial and very important for both countries. We need a long-term partnership concept. Arctic development involves long-term expensive infrastructure and investment projects in the industry and industrial cooperation. The concept of long-term partnership between countries based on objective trends in climate, energy, migration, military and politics is quite viable,’ says Anastasia Likhacheva. She noted that articulation and promotion of the Arctic factor in the issue of regional security in South Asia has a crucial role on the agenda.

Olga Kharina spoke about the role of space technologies in unlocking the potential of the Arctic region and their potential in terms of cooperation between Russia and India. Alexey Zakharov, in turn noted the steadily increasing role of the Arctic in the dialogue with the countries of the South Asian region, and also stressed the importance of Russian-Indian cooperation in the field of transport and logistics.

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