Arctic Council chairman warns against Nordic NATO expansion

Nikolay Korchunov, Russia’s ambassador at large for Arctic Affairs and the chair of the Senior Arctic Officials of the Arctic Council, at the Senior Arctic Officials Plenary Meeting in Salekhard, Russia in December. (Vyacheslav Viktorov/Roscongress)

The entry of Sweden and Finland in the alliance could lead to certain “adjustments” in Arctic cooperation, says Russia’s top representative in the international forum.

“We clearly have to understand that a change in the military-political status of countries will of course lead to certain adjustments in the development of high altitude cooperation,” says Nikolai Korchunov, the country’s Senior Arctic Official and top official in Russia’s current presidency of the Arctic Council.

“It remains to be seen what kind of adjustments there will be,” Korchunov said in a press conference, state news agency RIA Novosti reports.

According to the high-ranking Foreign Ministry official, the NATO membership issue must be seen in the light of whether or not it will help strengthen trust between the Arctic countries and public institutions.

Russia currently has the two-year rotating chair of the Arctic Council.

Following Russia’s onslaught on Ukraine, the international cooperation in the Arctic has been put on “pause mode.”

“The core principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, based on international law, have long underpinned the work of the Arctic Council, a forum which Russia currently chairs.  In light of Russia’s flagrant violation of these principles, our representatives will not travel to Russia for meetings of the Arctic Council, a joint statement by seven of the eight member states in the Arctic Council said.

Orienting towards national Arctic priorities 

The seven countries take a clear stand against the war and say they “condemn Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and note the grave impediments to international cooperation, including in the Arctic, that Russia’s actions have caused.”

Despite the freeze of International Arctic cooperation, the Russians intend to proceed with many of their planned activities.

“All events under the Russian presidency, except official meetings of the Arctic Council and its subordinate bodies, are planned organised in line with the adopted schedule,” Korchunov says in a ministry statement.

In addition, the Russian side now intends to orient most of its Arctic activities on more national priorities, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informs.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Will Canada’s federal budget deliver for NORAD?, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Finnish nuclear power developers kick out Russian partners, The Independent Barents Observer

Greenland: Polar opposites? Greenland’s new coalition government, Blog by Marc Lanteigne

Norway‘More important than ever that the Arctic community meets together’ – Arctic Frontiers, Eye on the Arctic

Russia: Russia proceeds with Arctic project as oil embargo looms, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: March to join NATO ‘moving faster in Finland than it does in Sweden’, says expert, Radio Sweden

United States: Senior Arctic officials working on plan forward amidst Arctic Council pause, Eye on the Arctic

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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