Sunday 17 September 2023 - 14:04

NATO Arctic Expansion Sparks Concerns in Russia

Story Code : 1082157
NATO Arctic Expansion Sparks Concerns in Russia
In an interview with RIA Novosti on Sunday, Nikolay Korchunov, the Russian ambassador-at-large, lamented the growing tensions in the Arctic, attributing them to what he described as the uncooperative policies of the United States and its allies.

Korchunov also pointed out that NATO's efforts to incorporate Finland, which has already become a full member of the alliance, and Sweden, indicate the bloc's endorsement of "forceful scenarios to increase its own security in the North at the expense of the security of other countries." In light of this situation, Korchunov cautioned that Moscow would react to this challenge by implementing "a set of necessary measures, including preventive ones," while considering the objectives outlined in Russia's foreign policy concept and Arctic strategy.

Simultaneously, the diplomat conveyed Russia's commitment to fostering mutual trust in the polar region to promote stability, cooperation, and dialogue. This declaration comes shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the Arctic, along with the Far East, as a strategic priority for the country. He emphasized the region's significance to Russia in terms of defense and access to natural resources.

The backdrop for these developments is NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg's assertion last year that Russia presents a strategic challenge to the alliance in the Arctic, prompting a call for an expanded military presence in the region. In response, Finland and Sweden submitted applications to join NATO in May 2022 amid the Ukraine conflict. While Helsinki officially became a member of the US-led military alliance in April, Stockholm's application remains pending. Türkiye and Hungary have been hesitant to endorse the bid due to unresolved issues in bilateral relations.

In contrast, Russian officials have consistently emphasized that Moscow's policies in the far North do not pose a threat and have cautioned that NATO's "incursion" into the region would escalate tensions. Russia has also maintained its commitment to peaceful cooperation in the Arctic but stands ready to protect its interests and territorial integrity when necessary.