Arctic Council to resume work without Russia | Polarjournal
Representatives of circumpolar nations meet every two years for the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting. The last meeting was held in Reykjavik in May 2021, at which Russia took the chair for 2 years. (Photo: Arctic Council)

On June 8, 2022, seven of the eight member states of the Arctic Council announced in a joint statement that they intend to resume their work on a limited scale. Council members emphasized that Russia will not be invited to the table and future meetings will only address projects in which Russia is not involved.

Russia holds the presidency from 2021 to 2023. However, on March 3, seven of the eight Arctic Council member states announced a pause in their participation in the Arctic Council, following Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

Permanent members (dark blue) are: Canada, Denmark-Greenland, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, United States.
Observer status (light blue) have: Germany since 1998, Netherlands 1998, Poland 1998, United Kingdom 1998, France 2000, Spain 2006, China 2013, India 2013, Italy 2013, Japan 2013, South Korea 2013, Singapore 2013, Switzerland 2017. (Graphic: Wikipedia)

Now the Arctic Council issued a statement saying that there will be a limited resumption of the Council’s work on issues that do not require Russia’s participation.

The Arctic Council was established in 1996. The organization’s main goal is to address issues facing Arctic governments and the indigenous peoples of Arctic nations. The eight Arctic states signed the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS) in 1991, which was the first step in establishing the Council.

The Arctic Council has about 130 projects underway that address climate change, biodiversity, indigenous peoples, and sustainable development. None of these projects have made progress since member states suspended their participation in the March Council.

In addition to Russia, the Council consists of Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland and the United States.

Nikolai Korchunov, senior Russian official on the Arctic Council, warned NATO against enlargement by Sweden and Finland, calling for “adjustments”. (Photo: Arctic Council)

Moscow has reported

A senior Russian diplomat stated that the government would consider the Arctic Council’s decisions illegitimate without Moscow’s participation.

Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to the U.S., said that it is almost impossible to effectively solve Arctic challenges without Russia’s presence. In early May, Nikolai Korchunov, a senior Russian official on the Arctic Council, warned against North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) expansion into the Nordic countries. He explained that the accession of Sweden and Finland to the intergovernmental military alliance would lead to certain “adjustments” in Arctic cooperation.


Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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