New Arctic plan warns of growing strategic competition from Russia, China 

By Briana Reilly / October 7, 2022 at 10:47 AM

Citing Russian and Chinese attempts to boost their influence over the Arctic, the Biden administration's newly released strategy covering the region aims to establish the United States as a counter-balance, calling for deeper coordination with allies and greater security investments.

Aiming to position the United States “to both effectively compete and manage tensions” in the Arctic, the framework, released today, lays out an updated national agenda governing a region that is becoming increasingly accessible because of climate change.

Covering the 2022 to 2032 timeframe, the strategy serves as an update to its 2013 predecessor and follows the release of the Defense Department’s -- as well as each of the military services’ -- own Arctic strategic objectives.

The latest document covers both military and civilian capabilities, calling for enhancements to each “to deter threats and to anticipate, prevent and respond to both natural and human-made incidents” as part of the strategy’s first pillar, which focuses on security. The remaining pillars range from climate change and environment protection to sustainable economic development, and intentional cooperation and governance.

In addition to committing to an increased investment in “modernized domain awareness to detect and track potential airborne and maritime threats and improve sensing and observational capabilities,” the framework pledges to develop communications and data networks that can operate in northern latitudes, while holding “regular, transparent and consistent training” and exercises.

The strategy also noted the investments Russia has made in upgrading its Arctic military bases and airfields, submarines and defense missile systems as well as China’s efforts to expand its “economic, diplomatic, scientific, and military activities” in the region.

Though Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has created “challenges to Arctic cooperation,” officials wrote that the United States will continue to support institutions seeking to achieve that, such as the Arctic Council. While the document states that the war “has rendered government-to-government cooperation with Russia in the Arctic virtually impossible,” it acknowledges the possibility exists “to resume cooperation under certain conditions” in the coming decade.