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Arctic Ambassador: There is no militarization of the Arctic

Anton Vasiliev is Ambassador at Large and representative at the Arctic Council.

Development of military cooperation among the Arctic countries should not be considered a militarization of the region, Russia’s Arctic Ambassador Anton Vasiliev says.

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“Higher attention from the Arctic Council member states towards the military factor in the Arctic should not be considered as militarization,” Russia’s Ambassador at Large and representative at the Arctic Council Anton Vasiliev said in an interview with ITAR-TASS. “It is implementation of national sovereignties of the countries, which share responsible approaches to the region’s security”, he explained.

“The demand for further improvement of military cooperation among the Arctic countries is evident,” the ambassador said in an interview with ITAR-TASS. “What forms it will have will depend on practical agreements.” Everything is done transparently, logically, and is not aimed against any neighbours, is not of a destabilizing character and does not cross any ‘red lines’.

The Russian military build-up that we have seen the last couple of years is only based on Russia’s concern with defending its own vast northern regions, which are becoming more vulnerable due to climate change, the ambassador explained. Vasiliev said Russia once had a naturally secure border of 20,000 kilometers of frozen ice, but that is literally melting away as temperatures rise in the Arctic.

“Now the climate is getting milder, the ice is retreating and we simply need to protect our borders from illegal border crossing, illegal emigration, organized crime and terrorism”, Vasiliev said. Economic activity in the Arctic Russia is on the rise, and Russia sees an obligation in securing navigation on the Northern Sea Route and having reliable search & rescue powers in the area. “It is complicated to do this without help from the military”.