Security in the High North: A Norwegian Perspective

Lecture | October 28 | 5-6 p.m. | 201 Moses Hall

 Kristian Åtland, Norwegian Defense Research Establishment

 Institute of European Studies, Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ISEEES)

Strategically located on NATO’s northern flank, and sharing a land and sea border with Russia, Norway is an Arctic power with a front-row seat. The country controls vast and resource-rich maritime areas north of the Arctic Circle and is an active participant in regional cooperation arrangements such as the Arctic Council and the Barents Euro-Arctic Council. However, as elsewhere in the Arctic, the security situation in the Barents Sea region has undergone significant changes in recent years, and mostly for the worse. Central factors in this regard are climate change and the loss of sea ice, the growing ship traffic and offshore petroleum exploration, Russia’s military modernization and increased military activity in the northern waters and airspace, and the post-2014 deterioration of Russia’s relationship with the West. Issues pertaining to borders, jurisdiction, and the access to shipping routes in the Arctic are gradually coming to surface as the region becomes more accessible. In the emerging geopolitical environment, an increased attention should be paid to the need for confidence-building measures, “soft security” cooperation, and other measures that may contribute to the preservation of military, political, and ecological stability in the northern part of the globe.
Dr. Kristian Åtland is a Visiting Scholar at the Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ISEEES) at UC Berkeley and works on a research project related to the Donbas conflict in Eastern Ukraine and the Russian-Ukrainian peace negotiations. He is currently on a one-year leave from the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment (FFI), where he is a Senior Research Fellow. Åtland holds a PhD in political science from the world’s northernmost university, the University of Tromsø – the Arctic University of Norway, and a MA degree in Russian studies from the University of Oslo. He is a former diplomat and has served at the Norwegian Embassy in Kiev and at the Norwegian Consulate in San Francisco. Since 2002, he has worked as a defense researcher and published a number of articles, research reports, and book chapters on various Russia-related topics. Among his recent publications is an article titled “North European Security after the Ukraine conflict”, published in "Defense & Security Analysis", no. 2, 2016.