Arctic Economic Council switching to online meeting amidst Russian invasion of Ukraine

A file photo of an Arctic Economic Council meeting room in Fairbanks, Alaska during the last U.S. Arctic Council chairmanship. “[The] Arctic Economic Council condemns the invasion of Ukraine by Russia,” the AEC’s Executive Director Mads Qvist Frederiksen said. “The Arctic Economic Council supports peace and democracy and we deplore the loss of life and the human suffering.” (Eilis Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)
Amidst Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Arctic Economic Council (AEC) annual general meeting in St-Petersburg will go from a hybrid, to online-only event, the forum announced last week.

“[The] Arctic Economic Council has condemned the war and has decided not to hold the annual general meeting in Russia in 2022 as initially planned,” AEC Executive Director Mads Qvist Frederiksen said in emailed comment on Tuesday. “[The]Arctic Economic Council is constantly assessing the situation and adopting to the developments.”

The Arctic Economic Council was a Canadian initiative under that country’s most recent Arctic Council chairmanship (2013-2015). The AEC was conceived to advise the Arctic Council on business issues. Now, it also facilitates business-to- business activities for northern-based companies or those elsewhere who want to do business in the North.

The AEC’s annual general meeting is where member companies review the year. This year’s meeting was set to coincide with the International Arctic Forum in April.

Members include businesses, Indigenous groups, Indigenous land claims organizations and non-Arctic members.

Though a separate body from the Arctic Council, the AEC leadership changes hands in concert with the Arctic Council rotating two-year chairmanship.

Russia currently holds that position.

No changes to membership 

Russian businesses part of the AEC include Gazprom Neft, North Star, United Shipbuilding Corporation, Novatek, Sovcomflot, Rosatom and Norilsk Nickel.

Frederiksen said there’s been no changes to AEC’s membership list.

“AEC has not expelled any members from the organization since its creation in 2014,” he said.

Dark days for Arctic cooperation 

Arctic cooperation forums have been in shambles since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with everyone from the Arctic Council, the Barents Council, the Nordic Council of Ministers, and the Council of the Baltic Sea States either pausing their work or suspending Russia from participation.

The Russian chairmanship did not respond to a request for comment last week made through the Arctic Council on the pause.

But in a Russian-language post on the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, it called the decision of the seven arctic states to pause the Arctic Council’s work “politicized” and “irrational” and said Russia would continue to work on its chairmanship priorities through 2023.

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Russia’s assault on Ukraine: MLA in Canada’s Northwest Territories asks for assurances about Arctic security, CBC News

Finland: Finland and Sweden to “strengthen interaction with NATO”, Radio Sweden

Norway: Nordic countries halt all regional cooperation with Russia, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russia’s Arctic LNG project might come to halt, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Swedish customs hand inspecting goods destined for Russia amidst sanctions, Radio Sweden 

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."

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

Leave a Reply

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.
Netiquette »

Your email address will not be published.