Jun 10, 2022
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America, Canada, Denmark and Norway put pressure on the Northern Sea Route

America, Canada, Denmark and Norway put pressure on the Northern Sea Route

Photo: Lev Fedoseev/TASS

Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the USA Anatoly Antonov considers the decisions of the Arctic Council adopted without the participation of Russia illegitimate.

The Arctic Council, established in 1996 to promote cooperation in the field of environmental protection and ensure the sustainable development of the region, includes Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the United States and Russia. All its decisions and statements require the consensus of the eight Arctic states.

On March 3, seven countries, except Russia, announced the suspension of work in response to the Russian military operation in Ukraine, and on June 8 they announced that they would resume their work, but without the participation of Russia.

“Such a step cannot but cause concern not only for Russia, as the current chairman of the Council, but also for the entire international community interested in the further sustainable development of this region. We state that this unique format of interstate interaction continues to be politicized. Decisions on behalf of the Arctic Council, taken without our country, will be illegitimate and violate the principle of consensus provided for by its governing documents, ”the Telegram channel of the Russian Embassy quotes the words of the diplomat.

Anatoly Antonov emphasized that it is simply impossible to effectively ensure the settlement of the problems of the Far North without Russia.

“The reason is obvious – in the Russian part of the Arctic, which occupies about 60% of the entire territory of the region, more than half of the indigenous population of the Arctic lives. More than 70% of all economic activity in high latitudes is carried out, ”he said.

Ambassador-at-Large of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Chairman of the Committee of Senior Officials of the Arctic Council Nikolai Korchunov at the end of May warned of growing security risks in the region due to the suspension of the Council.

“This decision is fraught with negative consequences, including for the well-being of the population of the Arctic, including indigenous peoples,” he said.l

In addition, the diplomat is concerned about the increase in international military activity in the region.

“The traditional policy of Finland and Sweden, the policy of non-alignment with military alliances, has long created a solid foundation for maintaining peace and stability in high latitudes,” says Nikolay Korchunov.

In his opinion, the potential accession of these countries to NATO is unlikely to help achieve this goal.

Valery Zhuravel, head of the Center for Arctic Studies at the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences, believesthat the decision of the seven countries of the Arctic Council, adopted in March, was a blow to cooperation in the region.

– This period was extremely disturbing, because we did not know how events would develop further. I expressed the idea that they would return to activities within the framework of the Arctic Council. They did return, but at the same time they said that they would be without Russia. It is impossible to deal with the Arctic without Russia, with its territory there, without our Arctic experience, icebreakers, and minerals.

I would evaluate this decision as the first step towards the resumption of activities in the Arctic Council, but this statement “without Russia” is probably a test of how Russia will act under these conditions. Restriction of Russia’s activities causes certain damage. A full-fledged activity without Russia in the Arctic is impossible, they understand this.

In March next year, the chairmanship will pass to Norway. By this time, an appropriate declaration should be prepared, where the results are summed up and plans for the future are outlined. We are interested in having the chairmanship passed from us. Anxious mood.

It seems to me that after the completion of the special military operation, the next point may be the Arctic. We notice this in the actions of the NATO countries, in the statements. Particularly threatening sound not from the United States, but from the UK, which wants to restore its former power at sea. This is reinforced by the plans of Sweden and Finland to join NATO. The situation is complex.

Korchunov, whom I met 2-3 days ago, said that we are talking about the collapse of the Arctic Council in general (he and I are worried about the same). Did not happen, they leave certain conditions for retreat.

“SP”: – How can this position of the seven countries of the Arctic affect our security and the economic development of the region, in particular, on the Northern Sea Route?

“There are constant attempts to harm us. The Northern Sea Route, the route of which is connected with our territorial and economic zone, has its own peculiarities. The country on whose territory it passes is responsible for the route, for its ecology.

We have decided that military vessels of the United States and other countries should not sail along the NSR. There are tough conditions – if you even go this route, you must report the data of the ship, crew, the start of movement etc. They are outraged by this, because they are in favor of free navigation through this territory. We do not agree, this is our right.

“SP”: – Finland and Sweden, especially in the case of joining NATO, can somehow prevent us from developing the NSR?

— They don’t, but Norway can to some extent.

Many are realizing the benefits of SMP at the present time, but no one is willing to invest. Everyone wants to carry cargo, but to contribute, first of all, to the arrangement of ports that exist, there are no especially willing ones. The advantages of the NSR can manifest themselves when it is possible to stop, for example, in Norilsk, unload one cargo, load another and move on.

In April the President Vladimir Putin held a meeting on the Arctic zone, where he set serious tasks for the development of the NSR. In the current situation, the installations of the country’s leadership are that in the Arctic we should not refuse anything planned. The veracity of this decision lies in the fact that the G7 announced that they would be engaged, but without Russia. But how can they do with the huge amount of work that is carried out, for example, in the transport of goods?

Such an approach of the G7, of course, will have a negative impact on the further development of the Arctic as such and, in particular, the Russian one. We are talking about the study of scientific research as well. No one can truly say how climate-related processes will develop further. We need a collective effort.

Director General of the Institute of Regional Problems Dmitry Zhuravlev considers the decision of the G7 illegitimate and ineffective, but notes that “they have wanted this for a long time.

– About five years ago, I read a meeting of the special commission of the US Congress on the development of the Arctic, where it was directly stated that the race of Russia and the United States in the Arctic is a race in space, it is just as significant and large-scale. Anyone who can take the Arctic seriously will win the race for world leadership.

The solution is not effective, because anyone can be taken out of any council, but our coast of the Arctic Ocean will remain ours. Thanks to our armed forces. They (the “seven” – ed.) may try to develop the Arctic in segments – in pieces where they are, and consider that where they are not, this will not happen.

“SP”: – But they can somehow interfere with us?

“This is their dream. The dream is, ideally, to grab the Northern Sea Route. mistress Albright She said not only about Siberia that it should belong to all mankind, but also about the NSR, because it is a huge strategic material. This is the economy, because it is several weeks faster than even through Suez, and politics, because the possibility or impossibility of China’s economic ties with Europe directly. If the Chinese were to deliver their goods to Europe through the NSR, the Americans would become very sour, because the main means of pressure of the Americans on the Chinese is “you will be hooligans, we will not buy goods.”

How can they block the NSR? Put the fleet near Norway and not let it out? So we will unload in Murmansk. And in general, not a single world fleet will sail to Chukotka, it will be lost. The Council is good as a political symbol, the coordination of its countries had an effect, but we can be excluded from the Arctic Council, but not from the Arctic.

As long as there is a meridian principle: how much coast – how much Arctic. Maybe they want to throw us out of the Council so that by its decision to cancel this principle? And what will they do? Will American submarines begin to surface in the holes of the Arctic Ocean? The United States has one icebreaker, the second burned out and is uncontrollable.

“SP”: – But the United States is building up its military presence in the Arctic. For example, bases in Norway.

— Yes, they appear and disappear with the Danes. And how will they swim (or, as sailors say, walk) there? We built nuclear icebreakers, and they were aircraft carriers.

“SP”: – In connection with the position of the seven countries of the Arctic Council, is it possible to create an alternative organization with the participation of countries that are not directly related to the region, but are interested in its development?

– Maybe. The Chinese have many icebreakers and are very interested. It is impossible to solve the issues of the region in terms of the development of transport, economy, climate without Russia.

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