That's the view of Joel Linnainmäkihttp://www.hs.fi/haku/?query=joel+linnainmaki from the Finnish Association of International Affairs, a Helsinki-based think tank that's been looking at possible Arctic conflicts.
"Economic interests of the great powers in the Arctic region is the biggest possible threat to the region" says Linnainmäki, on the new episode of Newsmakers, HSTV's weekly English-language current affairs show.
Traditionally, explains Linnainmäki, people think of the Arctic as "a huge area where submarines are going beneath the ice, with huge resources and huge economic potential".
Linnainmäki says a flat-out military conflict between nations is unlikely because of the practicalities of cost and atrition on equipment of operating in extreme temperatures. Linnainmäki also notes that although there has been a military 'strengthening' by countries like Russia and Norway in the Arctic region, this is at a much lower level than during the Cold War. He says that because it takes so much investment and effort to secure long-term logistics such as mining in the area, that it's "in the interests of Russia to focus on cooperation side in the Arctic rather than escalate the situation" militarily.
As we head into 2017 however, the definition of "conflict" is very much up for discussion, according to Linnainmäki.
"This is a theoretical question in 21st century international relations" says the researcher. A classic conflict in the Arctic he says, would still be "very much focused on conflict between nation states, between great powers, mostly likely Russia and USA" although a recent seminar by the Finnish Association of International Affairs thought that all-out war would be unlikely.
"Most conflicts are domestic, within a country" notes Linnainmäki "but when we consider the Arctic region, I think it's very unlikely to see non-state actors, for example in the style of ISIS operatng in the area".
Other conflicts could crop up if commercial interests clash with traditional rights of indigenous people living in the area, something that happened in the Swedish Lapland town of Jokkmokk in 2012, as a British mining company wanted to blast into rock in an area where reindeer would graze.
Another flashpoint scenario could happen if the military or private security contractors were sent to guard an oil drilling platform, against threats from environmental activists. In this case, the oil companies, if owned by the state, end up acting on behalf of their country.
Many countries that are not thought of as traditional High North nations are looking to the Arctic as a future lucrative area. As Arctic sea ice recedes, shipping routes have opened up, and that means countries like China, Singapore, South Korea and even India - all with observer status on the Arctic Council - are watching developments in the region closely.
"It's really about shipping routes and trade routes in the Arctic area" explains Linnainmäki. "It's also a long term play - they have to be prepared now, to act in the future. It's going to be ten or 20 years before these trade routes are actually going to be realised but they're trying to get into it now, before it's too late to get in" he adds.
In 2017, Finland takes over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council, but until now, its objectives seem rather mundane.
Joel Linnainmäki says that so far, the Finns have been concentrating on typical areas of interest, like "education, science, water, neutral questions that are good for technical cooperation between countries, good for bilateral relations with big powers".
Recently, President Sauli Niinistö http://www.hs.fi/haku/?query=sauli+niinistohas suggested that Finland could use an Arctic Council summit in Finland to bring together heads of state like Donald Trumphttp://www.hs.fi/haku/?query=donald+trump and Vladimir Putinhttp://www.hs.fi/haku/?query=vladimir+putin to talk about Arctic issues, although Linnainmäki notes this might be more ambitious than practical, especially since earlier in 2016 President Barack Obamahttp://www.hs.fi/haku/?query=barack+obama had seemed to pour ice water on the idea.
Recent Arctic Council summits have invited foreign ministers, but right now, according to Linnainmäki, Finland is "uncertain" whether to aim for Presidents and Prime Ministers, or be more realistic and invite players lower down on the foreign policy food chain.
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