Wednesday, May 19, 2021
Arctic Council discusses future
Putin’s tenure worries the rest
Climate change makes the Arctic accessible all year round. This is particularly interesting for the exploitation of raw materials. Russia leaves no doubt who they belong to. The other neighbors can describe anger and worries to the Russian foreign minister at a meeting in Iceland.
In the Arctic region, many great powers have growing demands. Against this background, the foreign ministers of the neighboring countries meet for two-day Arctic Council talks in Iceland. For the first time since US President Joe Biden took office, the foreign ministers of the USA and Russia are to meet there for a one-on-one discussion. Moscow had previously made its territorial claims clear and unceremoniously declared the Arctic to be Russian territory.
The Arctic Council includes Russia, the USA, Canada, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland. Above all, the consequences and dangers of climate change in the region are on the agenda of the meeting.
Due to increasing global warming, the Arctic has become more and more accessible in recent years and the exploitation of raw material deposits is realistic. Because of the strategic location, the natural resources and the shipping routes, not only the eight neighboring countries but also China are competing in the region.
“This is our territory, our country”
In recent years, Russia has invested heavily in its military infrastructure and in the extraction of natural resources in the Arctic. “For a long time it has been perfectly clear to everyone that this is our territory, this is our country,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov surprisingly at the beginning of the week. Russia is responsible for the “security of the Arctic coast”.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken then criticized the increasing military build-up at the North Pole. “We have to prevent the region from becoming militarized,” he said, recalling the common goal of a “peaceful and sustainable future for the region”. He had previously warned Russia not to “take advantage” of the changes in the Arctic caused by climate change.
“Russia’s rearmament is worrying”
Denmark’s Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod called on the neighboring countries to commit to climate protection. “We will use the meeting to send a strong signal to the world that we have to act now on climate issues,” he told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.
In the Arctic, the rise in average temperature as a result of climate change is three times higher than the global level. “There is no doubt that the Arctic is one of the places where the peoples are directly affected by the changes,” emphasized Kofod. The fact that the US has re-acceded to the Paris Agreement creates hope.
Kofod also expressed concern about Russian activities in the region: “Russia’s continued military build-up in the Arctic is worrying,” he stressed, and welcomed the “increased concentration of NATO” on the region. The Arctic NATO countries have a special responsibility to ensure stability and peacefulness in the region, said the Danish Foreign Minister.