[Caitlyn, Executive Director at Rule of Law Committee for the Oceans President at Institute for the New Arctic future Adjunct Faculty at American University Washington College of Law Past Steering Committee and Lecturer at Washington Wine and Cheese Seminar Treasurer and Member of the Board at Council on Ocean Law Member, Conference Secretariat and Director, Delegates' Computer Information Center at International Negotiating Committee on Drought and Desertification, February 29, World Politics Review, “Relocating the Reset: U.S.-Russian Partnership in the Arctic,” http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/11627/relocating-the-reset-u-s-russian-partnership-in-the-arctic, accessed July 7, 2014, EK]
Instead, the U.S.-Russia relationship can be strengthened by opening a new front that engages governments, businesses and civil society at regional and local levels to address issues of economics, environment and quality of life. Just such an opportunity can be found in the Arctic, where both countries share a frontier as well as the challenge of managing the Arctic environment as climate change makes the region more accessible.
Cooperation is already occurring in the Arctic, specifically the area between the North Pole and the Bering Strait along the antimeridian and the coasts of the Russian Far East, Alaska and Canada. Beyond the high-level forum of the Arctic Council, where national governments and indigenous people are represented, there is a history over the past two decades of relationship-building at the state and local levels, spearheaded by Alaskan and Russian governors. Issues of fisheries, Bering Strait shipping, regional development and environmental protection have led to increased regional cooperation.
But differences in language and culture, business practices and law, and, most of all, legacies of nearly a century of national distrust have left these local ties in dire need of their own reset. Given the region’s distance from the two countries’ national capitals, ownership of this kind of initiative should be devolved to state and provincial leaders, indigenous people, civil society organizations and businesses, with encouragement and support from national governments and intergovernmental organizations.
The countries of the antimeridianal Arctic, which is effectively separated from the more economically developed regions of the Barents and Kara seas, stand to gain from a regional partnership that addresses their common interests and concerns. Russia sees the opportunity to develop its vast Arctic watershed, which is becoming accessible with the rejuvenation of the Northern Sea Route across its Arctic coast. Alaska wants to capture benefits in energy development and trans-Arctic trade. The Canadian territories stand to gain from increased mineral development. All three countries have common interests in sustainable fisheries, a clean environment and protection of native cultures.