As activity in the High North heats up, are Polar nations seeking to secure or militarize the region?
On 15 May, ministers from the eight Arctic states gathered in Kiruna, northern Sweden, for their biennial meeting under the Arctic Council. The meeting was an excellent example of the difficult separation between securitization and militarization in the High North. While ministers used the meeting to sign the Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response agreement, which highlighted the necessity for maritime safety and security in the region, there is also a growing military presence in the High North of assets that seem ill-suited to maritime-security operations. The Arctic Council specifically omits discussion of security and defense issues from its mandate, largely to avoid the potentially contentious issues of Arctic military deployments, but the lack of discussion furthers the idea that this is a competitive militarization of the region.