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Thursday, 28 July 2022 18:42

Ambassador-at-Large Assesses Prospects for Russia's Collaboration with Other Countries within Arctic Council

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A roundtable of the Arctic Sessions project ‘The Arctic Council: Scenarios for the Future of the International Platform’ focused on the search for mutually beneficial forms of cooperation in the Arctic as well as ways to strengthen mutual trust and security in the region.

“Russia is interested in international cooperation and joint work as part of major infrastructure projects in the Arctic. The implementation of the Nord Stream 2 project has proven Russia’s ability to engage in interstate cooperation under any conditions. However, we now face the unwillingness of a number of countries to cooperate in projects in which there is mutual interest. In this regard, Russia is ready to expand cooperation with non-Arctic countries in projects of any scale. Only joint work among all interested countries can help strengthen mutual trust and reduce risks in terms of security in the Arctic,” said Anton Kobyakov, Adviser to the Russian President and Executive Secretary of the Organizing Committee for Russia’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

“The Russian Federation, with all its commitment to the Arctic Council and cooperation within its framework, has always been in favour of a variety of formats and methods to ensure its interests in high latitudes, while primarily focusing on the content and practical impact of the efforts that are being made,” said Nikolay Korchunov, chairman of the Arctic Senior Officials and ambassador-at-large of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Korchunov also stressed that, until recently, the Arctic Council has generally been a highly effective format for identifying and finding solutions to so-called ‘soft’ security issues. However, work has ceased now due to numerous instructions given by the heads of delegations at the Council’s last ministerial session in Reykjavik in 2021. Korchunov said the Russian side may face the need to assess the feasibility and usefulness of cooperation within the framework of the Arctic Council.

“The future of the Arctic Council depends on the member countries themselves and the decisions they will observe in order to ensure their interests in high latitudes. If the Arctic Council fails to meet the national interests of Russia as they are set out in the Development Strategy of the Russian Arctic until 2035, we will be faced with the need to assess the feasibility and usefulness of this format,” he said.

In addition, he said Russia is committed to reserving the opportunity for non-Arctic states to cooperate in the Arctic. The diplomat also emphasized that such projects should be open for Indigenous peoples, who should not become “hostages to decisions that make it difficult to improve the well-being of Arctic inhabitants.”

Nikolay Doronin, chairman of the Council of the Project Office for Arctic Development, noted that it would not even be feasible to continue international cooperation in the Arctic without Russia. At the same time, the Russian side is relatively self-sufficient in the development of Arctic territories, he said.

“Russia has the longest border and land area in the Arctic and essentially controls the Northern Sea Route. So, without Russia, it would be extremely difficult to talk about any development in the Arctic. It’s simply geographically impossible,” Doronin said.

For his part, Arctic Yearbook (Finland) Editor Lassi Heininen stressed that cooperation on environmental protection issues could create a scenario for further developing cooperation in the Arctic. International cooperation in the Arctic can still be successful, but only if both the Arctic states and superpowers take it seriously, Heininen said.

Yang Chen, a professor of international studies at Shanghai University, told the discussion participants about the problem of the militarization of relations between Arctic powers. The decision by Finland and Sweden to join the NATO military alliance should soon determine the overall security landscape in the Arctic. In addition, Chen pointed out the need to review the status of non-Arctic states in matters concerning collaboration in the Arctic. “Russia recognizes the strong distinction between Arctic and non-Arctic states and believes that Arctic states have exclusive privileges in the Arctic. Disagreements over the legal status of the Arctic have always been the biggest obstacle to Russian-Chinese cooperation in the Arctic. China does not claim to have the same rights in the Arctic region as Russia, but believes that its reasonable demands should be given the proper attention,” he said.

India also intends to step up its efforts in the Arctic. K.M. Seethi, the scientific director of the International Centre for Polar Studies at Mahatma Gandhi University, said that New Delhi views itself as the so-called ‘third pole’ of the globe, so participation in Arctic affairs is a matter of geopolitical importance for India.

The roundtable ‘The Arctic Council: Scenarios for the Future of the International Platform’ was the first event in the Arctic Sessions series. The project, which has been given grant support from the Gorchakov Foundation, is being organized by the Centre for International Media Assistance together with the Project Office for the Arctic Development.

Russia is the chair of the Arctic Council in 2021–2023. The comprehensive programme of Russia’s chairmanship calls for promoting international cooperation in such priority areas as the population of the Arctic, including Indigenous peoples, environmental protection, socioeconomic development, and the strengthening of Arctic cooperation. The Roscongress Foundation is organizing the events of Russia’s chairmanship.

Source: https://arctic-council-russia.ru/en/news/oficial.


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