The North Pole did not become a bone of contention, and the accusations of Russia capturing the Arctic proved to be nonsense. On the contrary, the Arctic States have significantly enhanced trust, understanding and cooperation to cope with the challenges by using new opportunities.
The current situation in the Arctic is generally positive, stable and predictable. Moreover, in a certain sense, the Arctic has become a model for other, less stable regions of the world. The cold war clichés and stereotypes are not applicable to it today. The outstanding issues are being successfully solved in the Arctic, a vivid example of this is being the agreement between Russia and Norway on delimitation of waters and cooperation in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean.
Generally, it is much more effective to pursue national interests in the Arctic together as compared to doing it alone. There is no race between Arctic States for increasingly accessible Arctic resources. According to Danish experts, up to 97% of proven reserves are located in the exclusive economic zone of the Arctic States. In other words, there's nothing to divide, everything has been already divided. On such theoretical issues as the expansion of the outer limits of the continental shelf, there exists sufficient international legal environment, above all, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982.
In May of 2008, the Arctic States adopted a declaration which stated that any potential disputes were to be resolved through civilized methods, by means of negotiations. And now, apart from nuclear weapons as part of a new global strategic stability, one could hardly talk about the militarization of the Arctic. Of course, recently Russia has given much attention to the strengthening of the armed forces in its polar region, but this is a natural process associated with the need to protect the northern borders. The important thing is that the expansion of armaments is transparent, predictable, not directed against any of the neighbors, is not destabilizing and doesn't cross any ‘red lines’.
The cooperation in the Arctic in the recent years has been expanding in a number of formats and fields. Russia is confidently developing relations with Norway and Finland; there are very good prospects for the joint Arctic projects with the United States, Denmark, Iceland, and Sweden. The exchange among the five Arctic states is steadily growing in such areas as continental shelf issues, hydrography, public safety, and natural resources. This June marks the 20th anniversary of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council. Yakutia is actively utilizing the potential of the Northern Forum. The changes in the Arctic even gave rise to a new scientific discipline, the Polar Law. But the central institute of international Arctic cooperation is the Arctic Council, of course.
For Russia and its regional partners, the Arctic is our home and our future. All the basic rules of the game in the Arctic must be set by those who live in it, of course, in line with the international norms. This does not mean a resurgence of a sort of Arctic isolationism, for many of the Russia's prospects, such as development of hydrocarbons or the use of the Northern Sea Route, could only be implemented in cooperation with extraregional partners. We are interested in this cooperation.