Russia is getting ready to take over its two-year Arctic Council chairmanship, which will begin in May, TASS reports citing Kommersant. Nikolai Korchunov, Ambassador-at-large of the Russian Foreign Ministry, who is the country’s top official in the Arctic Council, in an interview with Kommersant clarified what goals Moscow would pursue during its chairmanship.
According to Korchunov, Russia’s chairmanship will focus on issues such as the need to improve the living conditions of the region’s residents, the conservation of biodiversity and the Arctic’s economic development. “Russia will seek to boost Arctic cooperation and preserve the region as a place of peace and constructive cooperation,” he stressed.
In response to a question about the militarization of the Arctic, the diplomat pointed out that “as ice melts and access to the region becomes easier, NATO’s Arctic nations and non-Arctic members seek to boost their military presence in the region,” which leads to a increase in conflict potential. He emphasized that “Moscow is firmly committed to resolving all issues, including territorial disputes, through diplomatic means.” “Russia’s military activities in the Arctic do not violate the country’s international obligations as they are not aimed against Arctic countries and do not create threats to their national security,” Korchunov noted.
“We believe that there are no issues in the Arctic that require military solutions,” he noted. “In order to prevent the military and political situation in the Arctic from deteriorating, Russia supports the resumption of annual meetings between the chiefs of the general staff of Arctic nations, which used to take place before 2014. It would be an effective move towards ensuring trust and security in the region. The possibility of dialogue between military experts from Arctic Council countries could be considered the first step towards restoring the mechanism,” the Russian diplomat said.
At the same time, in his words, “the Arctic Council is a civil cooperation platform and its major goal is to ensure the sustainable development of the Arctic region.”