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Wednesday, 30 September 2020 12:17

Northern Sustainable Development Forum discusses Cold Information War in the Arctic

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On September 30, the last day of the 2nd International Northern Sustainable Development Forum, Arctic.ru organized a panel session, titled Information War in the Arctic, offering its participants an opportunity to discuss ways of preventing a new Cold War in the region and the current media environment in the Arctic.

The session included a presentation on the coverage by major media outlets of circumpolar countries of Arctic-related topics and Russia’s presence in the region.

“The study was carried out in eight languages and covered 11 key subjects: climate change, environment, tourism, international politics and cooperation, mining, research projects and innovation, accidents and disasters, regional development and support for small indigenous peoples of the North,” Yulia Atanova, head of Arctic.ru project and session moderator, said.

The study also revealed the share of Arctic coverage mentioning Russia. “The average indicator ranges from 16 or 17 percent to 30-33 percent, with most coverage mentioning Russia appearing in the context of climate change, economic and infrastructure development, mining and Arctic militarization,” Atanova pointed out.

She added that most of the publications – 83 percent, were quite neutral, with only 7 percent of negative articles and 10 percent of positive ones. Most of the negative coverage came from the United States and Sweden with about 50 percent of negative publications, followed by Finland with 34 percent, and about a quarter for Norway, Denmark and Canada.

Taking part in the event was Tim Anderson, a journalist with Barents Press, who shared his views on the study.

“I am not that surprised that climate change is one of the top news topics when you look at news articles about Russia, Sweden and neighboring countries… When you had the incident in Norilsk, it might have been affected by climate change and the thawing of permafrost. Of course, it is connected,” he said.

Vladimir Petrovsky, PhD in Political Science and Senior Research Fellow at the Center for the Studies and Forecasting of Russia-China Relations, Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, was surprised to see Arctic militarization among the key news topics in the Arctic and circumpolar countries.

“When the militarization of the Arctic becomes a top news trend, this shifts the focus and creates bias. Environment, thawing and environmental protection are natural subjects, but then you have articles about Arctic militarization and Russia’s involvement in it, which is hardly justified,” he pointed out.

Petrovsky also said that all the infrastructure in the Russian Arctic can serve both civilian and military needs, although in most cases the garrisons in the region are small.

Professor Vladimir Vinokurov from the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry, was also among the speakers. He said that the more people talk about the Arctic region and the challenges it faces, the more problems arise in international relations.

More information about the panel discussion can be found on the organizer's website: https://arctic.ru/international/20200930/982647.html

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