Russia’s Arctic Presence Represents “Strategic Challenge” for NATO, Says Stoltenberg

Jens Stoltenberg says Russia’s presence in the Arctic represents a “strategic challenge” for NATO and that the country is using the region to test new weapons.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned this Friday that Russia’s increased presence in the Arctic represents a “strategic challenge” for the Atlantic Alliance.

Jens Stoltenberg was speaking at Cold Lake Air Force Base, in northwest Canada, where the North American Aerospace Defense Command (Norad) fighters responsible for patrolling the Arctic are based.

At the end of a three-day visit to Canada, the head of the Atlantic Alliance stressed that the shortest path for Russian missiles and bombers to reach Western Europe is through the Arctic region.

In addition, Stoltenberg explained that Russia is using the Arctic to test new weapons, such as hypersonic missiles.

Russia has established a new Arctic Command. It opened hundreds of new bases in the Arctic, as well as former Soviet-era military installations, including air bases and deep-water ports.”

On Thursday, Stoltenberg traveled with Trudeau to the remote Canadian city of Cambridge Bay, in the autonomous territory of Nunavut, where Norad has an early warning radar station to detect Russian missiles and planes.

This was the first time in NATO history that an alliance secretary general had paid a visit to the Canadian Arctic.

Traditionally, Canada has expressed reluctance about the presence of the Atlantic Alliance in its Arctic regions.

But Trudeau pointed out that while Canada’s position is the same, the geopolitical situation has changed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, opening the door to Stoltenberg’s visit to the Arctic.

Russia is a growing concern for all of us. Which makes it appropriate to share with the [NATO] Secretary General everything that Canada is doing through Norad and independently to ensure that we are protecting this region”, stressed the Canadian official.

Jens Stoltenberg also underlined the growing importance of the north of the planet for NATO, noting that, once Sweden and Finland complete their accession to the organization, seven of the eight Arctic countries will be integrated in the Military Alliance. The only Arctic country that will be left out is precisely Russia.

The United States has announced that it will create a post of ambassador-at-large for the Arctic, a decision that shows the importance given by the Americans to this strategic region, also coveted by Russia and China, in the face of climate change.

The retreat of Arctic ice opens up significant economic and military opportunities thanks in particular to new shipping lanes.

The Arctic has warmed nearly four times faster than the rest of the planet over the past 40 years, according to a recent study.

Source: With Agencies

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