Cooperation between Russia and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in the Arctic and in space has significantly advanced over the last decade, culminating in their 2023 Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of Coordination. Economic drivers and both powers’ desire to cultivate an international order more favorable to their governance models and national interests have played important roles in facilitating the deeper cooperation on civil military technology and on Arctic operations and exercises. This represents a significant shift in Russia’s approach to the Arctic, where the country has prioritized its sovereignty and control over its territories while opposing access for non-Arctic nations.  

This paper is the first in a series analyzing Sino-Russian cooperation in the Arctic in a variety of dual-use areas. It assesses the implications of this cooperation on both powers’ willingness to work more closely in the sensitive field of space to advance Arctic and high-latitude domain awareness, communication, and navigation. To assess the depth of this cooperation and its potential trajectories, this paper analyzes the countries’ cooperative and aligned efforts in space and their applications to the Arctic. The analysis relies on open-source government documents and expert views, including anonymized interviews with leading experts and officials from the United States and Northern Europe.