Kara K. Hodgson & Marc Lanteigne

Moscow launched its “Hectare in the Arctic” program in summer 2021, allowing Russian nationals to obtain a free hectare of land in the country’s northern regions. This plan is the latest attempt to address the chronic problem of outmigration and to attract new settlers to the Russian Arctic. Yet, multiple obstacles stand in the way of making the scheme a viable demographic solution. The primary obstacle to success with this program, we argue, is the logic that undergirds it. This article unpacks Moscow’s logic by applying Foucault’s “security, territory, population” analytical triad. We conclude that the program is Moscow’s reaction to perceived threats to Russia’s sovereignty in the Arctic, particularly the perceived “China threat” that has been brought on by warming relations between the two countries. This logic undermines the potential of the program by neglecting substantive consideration of the needs and socio-economic conditions for Arctic residents. Ultimately, this case illustrates the challenges and central policy contradictions that Putin’s regime faces in making the Russian Arctic an effective zone of economic growth.

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