The opening of the Arctic Ocean and adjacent seas following the impacts of climate change has attracted increased international attention to the Arctic Ocean, its resources, and alternative transportation routes between the continents.

The Northeast Passage (NEP), running primarily along the coast of Russia, is widely believed to be the most available Arctic shipping route. Russia is the major Arctic flag, port, and coastal state, with wide Arctic maritime zones, including the Northern Sea Route (NSR).

The legal regime of shipping in the Russian Arctic is emerging as an outcome of the interaction of different processes and drivers, related to climate change, strategic interests of States and international political and legal processes.

Regulating shipping in Russian Arctic Waters: Between international law, national interests and geopolitics – SIRAW project aims to discuss the nexus between these processes and the domestic state interest and practice.

The project investigates the status and trends on the development and implementation of the Russian Arctic shipping regulations – the theme of the opening international seminar on in Tromsø in May 2019, with some of the questions revisited at the outreach seminar “Shipping i Arktis: Hva vil Russland?” in Oslo in October 2019. These activities lay the ground for developing a special issue of The Polar Journal, Volume 10, Issue 2 (2020), with nine articles written by academics from Norway, Russia, Canada, and China.

The second research interest relates to the reactions to the Russian policy and practice in regulating shipping in Arctic waters. In this context, in December 2020, the UiT held a two-day digital workshop “Russia and emerging users of the Northern Sea Route: conflict or collaboration?”. Session I focused on China and Arctic shipping, while Session II on the Polar Code, its implementation and further development.

The third line of investigation aims to study whether and how Russian practice influences the relevant international legal and political processes.