5 Feb 2024 16:12

Russia's future in Arctic Council depends on whether its activity meets Russian interests - Russian Foreign Ministry

MOSCOW. Feb 6 (Interfax) - The Arctic Council is driving in low gear, and Moscow's further membership in it depends on the resumption of the Arctic Council's activity and its compliance with Russian interests, Russian Foreign Ministry Ambassador at Large, Senior Official in the Arctic Council Nikolai Korchunov said.

"For now, the Arctic Council's activity is worrisome, considering the limited involvement of certain Arctic Council members in its work. The organization is driving in low gear," Korchunov said in an interview with Interfax on Diplomatic Worker's Day.

The Norwegian presidency's attempts to resume Arctic Council operations to the fullest "have not gained support of some Arctic Council members, which seem to seek a weakening of the organization's role in the architecture of international Arctic cooperation," he said.

"We link Russia's further participation in the Council to the resumption of its work and to how this activity corresponds to Russian interests, including the goals and tasks approved by Russian President Vladimir Putin in the strategy for developing the Russian Arctic in the period until 2035 and the fundamentals of Russian state policy in the Arctic," Korchunov said.

As to whether the Arctic might turn into an arena for confrontation between global forces in the coming years, Korchunov said that many analysts have indeed noted the growing military and political tensions amid the increasing significance of the region in the global economy, its strategic position, and the growing demand for energy, on the one hand, and the deteriorating military and political situation in the region on the other.

"As for factors boosting this trend, these are the North Atlantic Alliance's decision to enlarge and include the Arctic region into its sphere of interest, the aspiration for NATO's military supremacy in the region, NATO members' wager on their armed forces as the most effective tool for achieving national interests, the growing NATO military presence in the region, and broadening offensive, rather than defensive tasks," he said.

Such NATO actions are supported by the confrontational rhetoric of the NATO leadership and the freeze initiated by the West on meetings between the chiefs of Arctic general staffs, "which served as an important mechanism for building confidence in military affairs," Korchunov said.

A response to the enhanced NATO potential in the Arctic, Finland's accession to NATO and the possible Swedish entry into the alliance "have been and will continue to be given in proportion to the military and security threats and challenges," he said.