In July 2018, CSIS embarked on a major analytical assessment that centered on the following research question:
What will be the strategic consequences for the United States by 2050 if America’s two near-peer military competitors, China and Russia, continue to develop their long-term economic and security interests in the Arctic, but the United States does not?
Russia’s growing economic and military ambitions in the Arctic, as well as China’s increased physical presence in the region, underscore that both nations have long-term strategic designs for the Arctic region. Data analysis, satellite imagery, and scenario development all demonstrate the continued growth of Russian and Chinese presence in the Arctic and heighten the sense of stasis in the U.S. military and economic presence. Unless the United States wishes to lose access to portions of the Arctic and have increasingly diminished capabilities to defend and deter attack against the homeland, the United States must return to the Arctic.
Heather A. Conley is senior vice president for Europe, Eurasia, and the Arctic and director of the Europe Program at CSIS. Matthew Melino is a former associate fellow with the CSIS Europe Program. Nikos Tsafos is a senior fellow with the Energy Security and Climate Change Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Ian Williams is a fellow in the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and deputy director of the Missile Defense Projects stagnant, Russia and China are expanding their economic and military presence in the Arctic. In a battleground for great power competition, the United States must restore its presence and leadership in this increasingly strategic region.