• Anders Finsrud
There is a exist a dualism in Arctic politics, on one hand, the region is characterised by a web of institutional
agreements and bilateral cooperation on common regional governance. The Arctic states have displayed a
strong willingness to peaceful coexistence through a commitment to international cooperation, that extends
beyond the normal East-West dichotomy of international politics. At the same time, the Arctic states are
mistrusting each other’s intentions and have not shied away from increasing their military presence in the
region. Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Finland and Sweden renounced their traditional
foreign policy preference of neutrality in favour of NATO. This suggests the Arctic region is not unaffected
by the international system and can be just as prone to security dilemmas as anywhere else in the world. A
traditional cooperation/conflict analysis is not sufficient to address the complexities and nuances of Arctic
politics. This research suggests peripheral realism and the levels of analysis framework can offer key insight
into resolving the Arctic contradiction. The levels of analysis framework can allow us to separate
international politics and foreign policies into three levels, the first is pressures from inside the state, the
second is regional politics and the third is pressures from the international system. Imaging politics to take
place on three different levels with their own rules and dynamics can allow us to better conceptualise the
complexities of international politics and make sense of apparent contradictions. Peripheral realism
approaches international politics as seen from the “smaller states” perspective and their interests, unlike
neorealist theory which is more preoccupied with the international system as seen from “great powers”
perspective it is more prone to predict conflict and power competition as a driving force of international
politics. This makes it poorly equipped to address the complexities of Arctic politics because great powers
have different freedoms and capabilities whereas “inferior” states are more restricted and hence have
different needs. Although the Arctic region is home to two great powers, the majority of states are remains
“smaller peripheral” which will leave its mark on the outcome of regional politics, although they are still
subjected to the great powers’ interests.
Publication date30 May 2023
Number of pages86
ID: 532186462