Kampen om Arktis: Battle of the Arctic

Emma Selvig Nielsen & Martine Maj Ravn

Student thesis: Termpaper


Global warming has led to a reduction of the sea ice in the Arctic Ocean, with new possibilities for new routes at sea for shipping and extraction of oil/gas resources etc. This has led to an increased interest in the Arctic, both politically and economically. The region is characterized by territorial disputes and differences in interest. However, the cooperation between the Arctic coastal states: Russia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and USA has so far been a relationship marked by peaceful interference and cooperation. It is still a question whether the cooperation and diplomacy will continue with the newly discovered resources in the Arctic. The newly discovered resources include oil and gas and sea-routes, but also also territory that is not yet been divided amongst the coastal states, which will determine whom of the states can claim and control resources that may be valuable. This paper seeks to examine the potential conflicts that this can cause between the coastal states with our thesis “What is the potential for conflict in the Arctic?”. The thesis statement is answered in the light of Interdependence Liberalism with sub-branch of Complex interdependence and Realism including Game Theory. The paper identifies three parameters to be the main interests for the coastal states in order to evaluate the potential for conflict. The parameters are as follows: 1. Oil/gas, 2.Demarcation and 3. Military power. The papers concludes the following: It is highly probable that Complex Interdependence based on common interests will open up for continued cooperation between the Arctic states in order to sustain regional peace and stability and for the states as it is in the best interest of the Arctic states to protect and improve commercial and economical interests. However, there is also potential conflict especially regarding the demarcation of the Northeast- and Northwest passages and Russia’s dependency for oil/gas in the Arctic. This is relevant after economic sanctions that EU has laid on Russia after the the Russia-Ukraine Conflict. There will be a military buildup in the Arctic between the western states (Canada, US, Denmark and Norway) against Russia from our theory of Realism. This is mainly due to military power is an important bargaining method to bully other states, and also to enforce sovereignty in unresolved territorial issues. Furthermore the occurring global conflict between Russia and the west, especially NATO, which the other states are member of, has resulted in a colder politically climate also amongst the coastal states. Game Theory furthermore provides an understanding, that the bargaining strategy of the states regarding pursuing their interest of oil/gas and demarcation, (whether they are cooperative or not, or risk-taking), determines the future relationship between the states, and whether a military build-up might stagnate cooperation if the multiple states choose a risk-taking and aggressive bargaining strategy.

EducationsBasic - Bachelor Study Program in Social Science, (Bachelor Programme) Basic
Publication date27 May 2015
SupervisorsKennet Lynggard


  • Liberalisme
  • USA
  • Arktis
  • Samarbejde
  • Game Theory
  • Danmark
  • Norge
  • Canada
  • Konflikt
  • Militær magt
  • Grænsedragning
  • Rusland
  • Olie
  • Realisme