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6 Apr, 2023 08:14

Moscow warns of chaos in the Arctic

Lack of cooperation between Russia and the West is endangering the polar region, a federal minister has warned
Moscow warns of chaos in the Arctic

Russia's minister responsible for the development of the Arctic has told RT the ongoing disruption of crucial work regarding the region risks chaos in future. Cooperation between the Arctic Council members was suspended last year after Western member states decided to boycott Moscow over the Ukraine crisis.

“Our so-called Western partners produced one-sided unfriendly actions in the Arctic Council. Such moves destabilize the Arctic,” Aleksey Chekunkov said of the situation.

The Arctic Council is an intergovernmental body that deals with issues concerning the region and its indigenous people. Russia held the rotating chairmanship of the council when tensions escalated to open conflict in Ukraine in February 2022.

The seven other members subsequently decided to cut all contact with Moscow, effectively freezing approximately half of some 130 joint projects that were underway. Over the ensuing year, Russia focused on its domestic Arctic agenda.

Chekunkov, who heads the Ministry for the Development of the Far East and the Arctic, believes the situation is untenable.

“We can do something in the Arctic only based on common efforts,” he said. “If half of the Arctic lives according to the rules of the Russian Federation, and another half lives according to different regulations, then such a situation will bring chaos.”

Moscow is set to hand over the chairmanship of the council to Oslo next month. Last week, the Norwegian government released its program for its leadership of the organization. The plan is focused on climate change and sustainable development.

Norway declined a Russian invitation to attend a transition ceremony and instead wants to do this remotely. It also intends to limit the level of representation at the event.

“It is out of the question to have senior political officials going to a ministerial event in Russia and we have communicated that clearly to Russia,” Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister Eivind Vad Petersson explained to Reuters.

In addition to Russia and Norway, the Arctic Council also includes Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and the US.