Russian Foreign Ministry warns of consequences of suspending Arctic Council work
© RIA Novosti. Vladimir Astapkovich

Russian Foreign Ministry warns of consequences of suspending Arctic Council work

Since March, the activity of the Arctic Council, including project development, has been de facto suspended. Nikolai Korchunov, Ambassador-at-Large of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Chair of the Committee of Senior Arctic Officials, believes that the suspension will lead to increased risks to soft security in the region. Russia is urging Arctic Council participants to resume the work of the council.

“This pause will inevitably result in increased risks and challenges to soft security in the Arctic. This decision is fraught with negative consequences, including for the wellbeing of the people living in the Arctic, including indigenous peoples,” Korchunov said.

According to the ambassador, “Undoubtedly, the speedy resumption of the comprehensive work of the Arctic Council is in the interests of both the Arctic states and the international community in general.”

“Russia is ready to resume dialogue in the high latitudes,” the ambassador said. “It should be noted that our partners have only temporarily suspended their participation in the Arctic Council, which does not require revising the council membership or structure.”

According to Korchunov, it was underscored in Tromsø that the Arctic Council is at its most valuable when all eight Arctic states are participating, and that the Western members were not interested in changing the council’s structure or composition.

“In this sense, our colleagues’ position has not changed. Russia remains open to the prompt resumption of the council’s activity so that our cooperation can continue without affecting those who depend on it. We will seek to minimize the possible negative effects of the pause in the council’s work,” Korchunov concluded.

He also added that the possible NATO membership of Sweden and Finland could alter how cooperation proceeds in the Arctic.

“It seems that we also should understand that changing the military and political status of these countries might call for adjustments to cooperation in the high latitudes. Time will tell what adjustments could be made. The question of Finland and Sweden joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization should be viewed through the lens of how it would facilitate trust between Arctic countries and social institutions,” Korchunov said.

Finland and Sweden earlier submitted membership applications to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.