US to boost cooperation with Finland, Sweden in new Arctic Strategy
The US is revamping its national Strategy in the Arctic to organize and mobilize its capabilities to address the growing presence of Russian and Chinese operations.
The US released its National Strategy for the Arctic, the first since the last report was published 9 years ago in 2013. It laid the groundwork for the next ten years and seeks to boost cooperation with nordic countries such as Finland and Sweden to further security interests in the region, according to administration officials.
Four pillars are listed in the strategy: security, climate change, economic growth, and international cooperation, according to the officials. It also calls for consultation with native communities and committing to a whole-of-government approach.
"This will be the first US government-wide policy document about the Arctic since 2013… it is a strategy that is intended to cover the next 10-year period," one of the officials said. "A number of things have changed in the Arctic since 2013, warranting an update to the strategy. Particularly, the climate crisis in the Arctic has been growing more acute, and even before this year began, geopolitical circumstances in the Arctic have begun to change."
The new Arctic strategy states it aims to address the climate crisis through increased cooperation and innovation in the region. Yet, in other parts, it states that it intends to counter the increased presence of Chinese-Russian cooperation.
"Russia’s war in Ukraine has raised geopolitical tensions in the Arctic, as it has globally, creating new risks of unintended conflict and hindering cooperation [...] The People’s Republic of China (PRC) seeks to increase its influence in the Arctic through an expanded slate of economic, diplomatic, scientific, and military activities. It has also emphasized its intention to play a larger role in shaping regional governance" the report states.
In other parts of the document, it says that the US seeks to boost its relations with Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark (including Greenland), Iceland, Norway, Finland, and Sweden, amid the latter two's accession to NATO.
"The strategy really looks at how do we kind of calibrate and coordinate our activities with our NATO allies - and what are currently our Arctic partners - to simultaneously defend new security interests," an official said during a conference call about the strategy.
"We are very interested in expanding that work with Sweden and Finland as they access into NATO."
This includes, the official added, increasing improve interoperability and information-sharing, joint exercises, "reducing risks, and preventing unintended escalation, especially during this period of heightened tension with Russia," the report states.
Read more: Russia returns to Arctic for economy, ecology, security reasons: Putin
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu previously said that the official participation of Helsinki and Stockholm in NATO strategic planning and the possible provision of the territory of these states for the deployment of strike weapons would change the security conditions in the Baltic region and the Arctic, and would require a revision of approaches to the defense of Russian territory.
Yet the ascension of the two Nordic countries has recently been frozen by Ankara due to their support for organizations Turkey deems as terrorists such as the PKK, YPG, and the Gulen movement.
On October 1rst, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey will continue to freeze Sweden and Finland's bids for NATO membership until the promises made by the two Nordic countries are "kept".
On another note, Beijing in late August condemned NATO's 'irresponsible' criticism of the Russian-Chinese partnership in the Arctic, showing the Alliance's efforts to perpetuate the Cold War mentality.
On the other hand, Moscow has criticized NATO's expansion in the Arctic as it intensifies the potential for conflict between NATO with other countries, notably Russia.
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