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Russia's 2022 Naval Doctrine: An application of the seapower theory in the Arctic

The Russian Federation maritime security strategy

January 2023

Approximately three-quarters of the Earth's surface is now covered by seawater. This figure is increasing as a result of the melting of the Arctic ice. This geographical phenomenon is not only removing the obstacle that ice used to pose in terms of navigation and connections between continents, but is also favouring the covering of coastal territories at near-sea levels, thus expanding the surface water mass and reducing the habitable land area of our planet.

According to Geoffrey Till's commonly used categorisation, shared by several researchers, the sea has four historical attributes: resource, medium of transportation and exchange, medium for information and the spread of ideas & medium for domination. These attributes, as Admiral Mahan points out, favour the view of the sea as 'a great high way' or 'a wide common’ for coastal states, which exploit the possibilities of their maritime status in political, economic and geo-strategic-military matters. But what does this naval influence and capacity consist of? How can you interpret the actions of states when the international system is established and already has certain commonly accepted norms? Is the traditional conception of maritime power still applicable today?

We will now attempt to answer these questions by analysing Russia's new maritime doctrine, published in July 2022, with regard to its actions in the Arctic. To this end, we will proceed to contextualise what seapower is and its implications, and then analyse the Russian state's new naval policy in the Arctic region and its compatibility with the previously defined concepts. In this way, it is intended to demonstrate that the theory of seapower is still relevant today, being a determining factor in the dominance and influence of states over other countries, but also essential in the development of fruitful diplomatic negotiations.


  1. Seapower: what it is and its influence

  2. An analysis of the new Russian Maritime Doctrine: Is Russia a seapower in the Arctic

  3. Conclusion

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