The ”new” Arctic – the Military Dimension

Paal Sigurd Hilde


The growing international attention the Arctic witnessed from the early 2000s was initially garnered chiefly by ecological concerns on the one hand, and petroleum resources on the other. In 2007, however, the perception emerged in earnest that a race for the Arctic was taking place. This chapter examines the origins of this geopolitical interpretation of Arctic developments and analyses in detail one of its key aspects: the notion of an Arctic arms race. It surveys the Arctic-related, military investments of the five Arctic littoral states, as well as those of the United Kingdom, and concludes that there is scant evidence of an arms race in the Arctic. Moreover, it argues that much of the military investment in the Arctic must be understood in the context of the global interests of the US and Russia, and that of the opening Arctic.

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JMSS is a publication of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

JMSS gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.