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What does Russia know about the modern Arctic?

In the coming years, the Arctic is likely to face serious climatic and geopolitical threats. The government is trying to solve these crises, but will the population support these efforts? Arctida and Russian Field set out to find out what Russians know about state policy in the Arctic and what they would like to see, and discovered a generational divide. The older generation is more likely to see the region as a resource, to support its use for military purposes, and to be wary of cooperation with countries that are not "friendly". The younger generation is less likely to support resource extraction and much less likely to support isolationism and militarism.

Why is it important to maintain a focus on the Arctic? (Why are things happening in the Arctic important?)

The Russian authorities often mention the importance of developing the Arctic and spend considerable resources on programmes to develop the territory. In the near future, the region may face new challenges. Melting glaciers provide access to mineral resources, and the Arctic contains about 22% of the world's undiscovered hydrocarbon resources. At the same time, the loss of ice threatens to devastate the natural environment and its inhabitants.

Geopolitical tensions are also rising. The Russian authorities fear a growing NATO military presence near their borders, particularly in the context of Finland and Sweden joining NATO. Recently, the State Duma confirmed the possibility of denouncing the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in the Arctic, a document that regulates national borders, navigation and resource extraction in the region.

What did the Russians hear about the Arctic recently?

Arctida and Russian Fields have found out what Russians know about government actions in the Arctic, which of them they are willing to support, and why.

More than half of respondents have not seen any mention of the Arctic in the media or social networks in the last three months.

However, 44% of respondents said they had seen publications on the topic. These were more likely to be about the development of the region and its history (15.2%), and slightly less likely to be about environmental issues (12.0%). About 9% of respondents had seen references to each of the following topics: the geopolitical struggle for the Arctic, the Northern Sea Route, the nuclear fleet, and icebreakers.

Political Agenda in the Arctic

Only 53% support the stationing of troops and military facilities in the Arctic.

The political agenda — "turn to the East" — was most strongly reflected in the question about the possibility of cooperation with other countries in the development of the Arctic. In general, 69% support such cooperation. At the same time, 37% believe that it is only possible to cooperate with "friendly" countries: China, India and others. Separately, 62% of respondents are in favour of cooperation with China. And 28% are sure that the country can manage the development of the Arctic without any help. A quarter of respondents are in favour of cooperation with countries other than "friendly" countries.

Unclaimed "Hectar in the Arctic"

The vast majority of respondents (78%) have not heard anything about the state programme "Hectar in the Arctic". Only 21% know anything about it. Moreover, more than 80% of them said that they were not participating to participate in it. More than half of the respondents considered the idea itself to be unsuccessful.

Experts who work with Arctida explain the unpopularity of the programme in terms of lack of infrastructure, inaccessibility of the territory in general, harsh climate, and limited choice of industries for which a hectare in this region may be suitable.

The young against isolation and militarism

There is a generation gap in Russians' views of what they want the Arctic to be like. Young people are more concerned about the ecology of the region. Among respondents aged 18-29, 78% expressed this concern, compared to 71% among those aged 60 and over.

Respondents under 30 are less supportive of mining in the Arctic: 63% in the 18-29 age group versus 75% in the 60+ age group. They are also more likely to support cooperation with other countries in Arctic development. Among 18-29 year olds, only 17% were in favour of developing the region independently. In the 45-59 age group, 34% support this approach.

Young people are much less willing to support military facilities in the Arctic: only 38.3% of those aged 18-29, 48.1% of those aged 44 and over and 62.4% of those aged 60 and over.

Respondents' attitudes are also influenced by their income and education. For example, support for environmental work in the Arctic and cooperation with other countries increases with income. On the other hand, the willingness to use the Arctic for military purposes decreases with higher income. Those without higher education are more likely to support military installations in the Arctic and less likely to support cooperation with other countries and environmental work in the region.

Arctida experts perceive a strong demand for strengthening the Arctic brand

According to the experts Arctida works with, the results of surveys on mentions of the Arctic show that the region does not have a strong brand of its own. Respondents follow the media agenda. For example, they bring up environmental issues because of reports of disasters. And geopolitical and military issues are on their minds because of Russia's ongoing military aggression in Ukraine and the strengthening of the NATO bloc in Arctic border areas. The Arctic agenda itself remains vague.

The contradictions between age groups on environmental and military issues may be indicative of a generational divide in the way information is disseminated. The older generation uses traditional media and is receptive to government narratives. As a result, they are more likely to support isolationism and militarism and to see the Arctic as a resource. Respondents under the age of 30 get their information from newer media that are free of state narratives. As a result, young people are more likely to see the Arctic as an attractive and peaceful region for tourism.


The study was conducted by telephone among Russian residents between 4 and 12 December 2023. 1600 respondents were interviewed. The sample is representative in terms of gender and age within the Russian Federation and, in particular, within federal districts. The margin of error does not exceed 2.45%. We're ready to answer your questions, provide additional comments, and materials. Reach out to for knowledge exchange and collaboration.


Arctida is a non-profit organization focused on analysis and investigation within the Russian Arctic.

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