Russia says its Arctic strategy ‘threatens no one’
Moscow’s drive for military and economic development in the Arctic is not a threat to other countries, Russia’s foreign minister said Tuesday, adding that territorial conflicts over the shelf would be peacefully resolved.
“We are not doing anything else besides ensuring security of the country. All we’re doing in the Arctic is geared toward this and only this. We are not threatening anyone,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at the International Arctic Forum that Russia is hosting.
He said criticism that Russia is militarising the Arctic is not fair.
“We don’t see a single issue that requires a military solution,” he said, accusing “some NATO states” of “imposing a militaristic spirit” on coordination of Arctic nations in the Arctic Council.
Moscow has built several massive Arctic garrisons in the Arctic and made the hydrocarbon-rich region one of its strategic priorities.
Some in the US command have warned about Washington’s and Canada’s vulnerabilities in the north, and President Donald Trump’s administration is drafting a new Arctic defence strategy to reflect competition with Russia and China in the region.
Moscow has filed a bid in the UN to assert sovereignty over a vast Arctic shelf area, which received a “positive recommendation” regarding areas in the Okhotsk, Barents, and Bering Seas, Lavrov said.
The UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf is still reviewing Russia’s claim in the Arctic Ocean, which includes the North Pole.
“We expect a successful conclusion of the review” of this part of the claim, which contests with Denmark, Lavrov said.
“All possible overlaps will be solved through negotiations,” he said.
He added that the Northern Sea Route which Moscow has billed as a viable alternative link between Europe and Asia, is a “national transport artery” for Russia, but Moscow nevertheless wants to “develop and use it collectively”.
Copyright AFP (Agence France-Press), 2019
By Shoaib Ur Rehman