Russia slams NATO for planned expansion of its Arctic presence

Russia has slammed NATO’s plan to expand its presence in the Arctic, a resource-rich area world powers increasingly view as holding strategic value.

On Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia perceives NATO’s actions regarding the northernmost region of Earth as “negative”, dpa reported citing the Interfax news agency.

“Russia will protect its interests in an appropriate manner,” he said, citing security needs and “economic activities”.

Moscow lays claim to 1.2 million square kilometres in the Arctic, and in particular to the raw materials such as oil and gas stored there.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told Germany’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper over the weekend that “NATO must increase its presence in the Arctic”.

Moscow, he noted, was in the process of reopening bases from Soviet times and stationing new state-of-the-art weapons there, such as hypersonic missiles.

China is also increasingly interested in the Arctic, he said, even though it is not an actual Arctic state.

The Arctic includes areas of the US, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Canada, Norway, Sweden and Russia.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Stoltenberg took a three-day tour this month focused on the defence of the Canadian Arctic.

With Finland and Sweden’s decision to join the Western military alliance, the visit to Canada also highlighted Russia’s status as the only Arctic nation outside of NATO.

On August 26, the US State Department announced that it would be appointing a special ambassador-at-large for the Arctic region for the first time.

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