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17 Sep, 2023 07:46

Moscow vows ‘preventive measures’ against NATO in Arctic

The bloc’s plans in the far North will upset the regional balance, a top Russian ambassador has said
Moscow vows ‘preventive measures’ against NATO in Arctic

NATO military expansion in the Arctic undermines regional security and warrants countermeasures from Russia, according to a senior Foreign Ministry official.

In an interview with RIA Novosti released on Sunday, Nikolay Korchunov, Russian ambassador-at-large, deplored rising tensions in the Arctic caused by what he called the unconstructive policies of the US and its allies.

He also said that NATO’s push to embrace Finland – which has already become a full-fledged member of the alliance – and Sweden shows that the bloc supports “forceful scenarios to increase its own security in the North at the expense of the security of other countries.”

Against this backdrop, Korchunov warned that Moscow would respond to the challenge with “a set of necessary measures, including preventive ones,” taking into account the goals stated in Russia’s foreign policy concept and Arctic strategy.

At the same time, the diplomat signaled that Russia would continue to promote mutual trust in the polar region to support stability, cooperation and dialogue.

Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin named the development of the Arctic, along with the Far East, as the country’s strategic priority. He has previously noted that the region is of great importance to Russia in terms of defense and natural resources.

Last year, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that Russia posed a strategic challenge to the alliance in the Arctic, calling for an expanded military footprint in the region. Against this backdrop, Finland and Sweden applied to join NATO in May 2022 amid the Ukraine conflict. While Helsinki officially became part of the US-led military bloc in April, Stockholm’s application remains in limbo. Türkiye and Hungary have been reluctant to ratify the bid due to a number of outstanding issues in bilateral relations.

Meanwhile, Russian officials have repeatedly stated Moscow’s policy in the far North poses no threat, and warned that NATO’s “incursion” into the region would only lead to escalating tensions. Russia has also said that it has always aspired to peaceful cooperation in the region; however, it is ready to protect its interests and territorial integrity if needed.