Russia against militarization of Arctic

Moscow is against militarization of the Arctic and sees no need today to deploy troops to the region, Russia’s Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov has said.

The statement was made during a meeting with his Danish counterpart Gitte Lillelund Bech in Moscow.

"Russia opposes militarization of the Arctic and sees no need to boost its military presence in the region," Serdyukov said, cited Itar-Tass. At the same time, the Russian military chief proposed the development of military co-operation between Arctic nations and the holding of joint activities "primarily aimed at providing assistance in crisis situations."

Earlier, Denmark’s Defense Minister said that problems of the Arctic region should be settled by the Arctic states – just as it has been so far. These states are Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States.

The eight Arctic nations have been actively competing for the access to the region’s seabed, which is incredibly rich with mineral resources. Some other states are also showing eagerness to gain access to the region’s riches, which are becoming more accessible as global warming progresses and ice melts.

Despite speculation that Russia might be seeking the militarization of the region, Moscow has repeatedly said it that it will not create an Arctic military force, irrespective of any territorial disputes that may develop in the area.

“Forming special Arctic troops is not on the Russian agenda,” Anton Vasilyev, Russian envoy to the eight-nation Arctic Council said back in September. “But we did indeed plan to strengthen the resources of the forces responsible for security, primarily in ensuring the safety of navigation at sea.”

In autumn last year, Moscow hosted the “Arctic: Territory of Dialogue international” forum, which was organized by the Russian geographic society. The main point of the gathering was a discussion of international co-operation in the Arctic and the acknowledgment of the region as an area of peace and co-operation.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, speaking at the forum, named comfort of living, attraction of investment and nature preservation as the basics of the Arctic program.

“I am familiar with various futuristic predictions on the upcoming strife for the Arctic. But we are carefully monitoring the situation in the region, and it is obvious that most of those scenarios have no real grounds whatsoever,” the premier told the forum. He noted that Russian explorers reached the North Sea back in the 11th Century, and “both history and geography have put the mission of cultivating the region on to our people.”

“First of all,” Putin specified, “we are talking about making the conditions of living in the Arctic of good quality and comfortable. This includes a careful approach to the traditions of the indigenous people of the Arctic and their economic set-up, while developing the social sphere, the educational and healthcare systems, and formation of the informational environment.”