Canada boycotts Moscow Arctic Council meeting over Ukraine

The Arctic Council has long been immune from international geopolitics. Will Canada's latest move change that? (iStock)
The Arctic Council has long been immune from international geopolitics. Will Canada’s latest move change that? (iStock)
Canada boycotted an Arctic Council meeting in Moscow this week to protest Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

Canada currently holds the rotating chairmanship of the intergovernmental forum which includes the world’s eight circumpolar nations: Canada, Greenland (Denmark), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia and the United States.

The Canadian government described the boycott as  ‘a principled stand against Russia’ in a news release on Tuesday.

“As a result of Russia’s illegal occupation of Ukraine and its continued provocative actions in Crimea and elsewhere, Canada did not attend working-group-level meetings in Moscow this week,” Leona Aglukkaq,  Canada’s environment minister and minister for the Arctic Council, said in the statement. “Canada will continue to support the important work of the Arctic Council.”

Leona Aglukkaq,  Canada's environment minister and minister of the Arctic Council. (iStock)
Leona Aglukkaq, Canada’s environment minister and minister of the Arctic Council. (The Canadian Press)

The Arctic Council’s website states the Moscow meeting was of its task force for black carbon and methane.

Last month, the Arctic Council’s Senior Arctic Officials meeting took place in Yellowknife, Canada with all members attending.

Canada has been an outspoken critic of Russia since the Ukraine crisis began. It has already issued travel bans and sanctions on some Russian individuals.

Earlier this week, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Canada was ready to take further action if the situation in regions like eastern Ukraine continues to deteriorate.

“Russia continues to employ provocative actions against Ukraine, which threaten to destabilize and divide the region,” said Baird in a statement on Monday. “This is entirely unacceptable. Russia can expect to face increased isolation from the international community and suffer further serious consequences should it continue with this course of actions.”

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

Related Links:

Canada: Will Russia’s actions in Ukraine affect relations in the Arctic Council?, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Ex-President Ahtisaari calls on Finland to join NATO with Sweden, Yle News

Norway:  Nordics rethink security after Ukraine crisis, Yle News

Sweden: Sweden providing jets to NATO, Radio Sweden

Russia:  Blog – Russia puts countries on edge in the Arctic, Cryopolitics

United States: Can an aggressive Russia remain U.S.’s nice Arctic neighbor?, APRN

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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