Feature Interview: Will Russia’s actions in Ukraine affect relations in the Arctic Council?

The Arctic Council's Senior Arctic Officials meet in Canada's Northwest Territories March 25. (iStock)
The Arctic Council’s Senior Arctic Officials meet in Canada’s Northwest Territories March 25.
A meeting of the Arctic Council’s senior Arctic officials takes place in Canada’s Northwest Territories from March 25-March27.

The agenda includes discussions on climate and sustainable development.

Canada is the current chair of the council, an international forum that includes the world’s eight circumpolar states: Canada, United States, Russia, Denmark (Greenland), Iceland, Finland, Sweden and Norway.

Timo Koivurova from the University of Lapland. (Photo courtesy Timo Koivurova)
Timo Koivurova from the University of Lapland. (Photo courtesy Timo Koivurova)

The Canadian government has, among other western governments, been outspoken against Russian actions in Ukraine, and many are wondering if this will affect relations within the organization.

  • Will the current geopolitical crisis affect how Russia is perceived by Arctic Council members?
  • Will western sanctions against Russia have a negative impact on neighbouring Arctic regions like Finland and Norway?
  • Can the Arctic Council, often regarded as a model of international cooperation, remain insulated from this kind of geopolitical crisis?

To examine some of these questions, Eye on the Arctic’s Eilís Quinn turned to Timo Koivurova, research professor and director of the Northern Institute for Environmental and Minority Law, Arctic Centre/University of Lapland.

Related Links:

Ukraine’s impact on Arctic gas development: Part II, Blog by Mia Bennett

Nordics rethink security after Ukraine crisis, Yle News

Russia-Ukraine tensions may impact Finnish economy, Yle News

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

2 thoughts on “Feature Interview: Will Russia’s actions in Ukraine affect relations in the Arctic Council?

  • Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 03:58

    I disagree with the remark by Timo Koivurova on his interview, “Russian is the heart of the Arctic”.
    That is not a neutral point of view, it is more biased than neutral, leaning towards the interest of Russian interest. That is a fatalistic belief in surrendering to the power politics, a poor judgement by Timo in my opinion.
    The world society would be a sorry place, ruled by dictators if that kind of belief was common. That is exactly the kind of belief and justification that Russian has stated on Crimea. But it is morally wrong, Adolf Hitler made the same types of claims in the Heart of Europe. The Soviet Union leader Stalin made the same kinds of claims on the Baltic nations, sharing the “War Loot” with Hitler.
    The same kind of greed was exercised by the Soviet Union in 1939 when they cheated Finland out of the Barents Sea, blocked Finland from having access to the salmon rich waters of the Arctic. Why was that? because the “HEART IS GREEDY”. The truth of the planet Earth environment and who should be a custodian of the natural environment belongs to those with a clean heart. Russian is not the heart of the Arctic, their greed makes claims left right and center, but that does not make the heart of anything, other than GREED.
    Really dissappointing to listen Timo koivurova interviewed, where he shares his fatalistic belief for the power politics of the pariah States.

  • Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 04:12

    A neutral point of view would be to see what assets Russian already has in the heart of Russian landmass. The situation is not like the situation in Japan, where there is very limited amount of space and natural resources. But because the heart of the Russian leaders are greedy, they are not content with what they already have, they want more, much much more. In fact they go as far as invading others land so that they can have more, much much more. That is the core problem with Russia, it has a sick heart.
    Here is a video about balance, sharing and moderation. Lets be real, let us not be deceived by people that have sold out to the greed of money, or sold out to other hidden agendas. The Antarctic community has managed their environment and the politics well, maybe because they have Australia and New Zealand in the heart of it all. In case you don’t know, the Australian and New Zealand society is very different to that of the northern hemisphere. They understand what is equality, fair go and justice, they respect people and go out of their way to help others.
    The problems that face the Arctic, are not that different to that of the Antarctic, but the heart of the problem, the real problem is the condition of the hearts of those people, whether they respect the natural environment, or whether they do not respect the natural environment.
    The problem is in the heart of the people that live next door to the Arctic. Talking about greedy guts, Finland was pushed out of the very same rich resources that the Soviet Union enjoyed, Why is that? Because of the Greedy Heart of the Soviet Russians.

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