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Climate change awakens interests in the Arctic: conflict with Russia?

Climate change awakens interests in the Arctic: conflict with Russia?

DrThe Arctic is a very extreme region. The Climate change It appears there as clearly as it does anywhere else. The temperature rises faster, and the ice keeps melting. But this also spurs intense desires in the region. Once the ice melts, tensions build up. It is about valuable raw materials, about gas, oil and rare earths. It concerns dissolved free trade routes. The global powers are trying to maintain their demands, just as the small countries in the north are.

Majid Star

North America political correspondent based in Washington.

Matthias Wissowa

Political reporter for northern Germany and Scandinavia, based in Hamburg.

A new chapter in the struggle for the future opens in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. The country is relinquishing the presidency of the Arctic Council, which it has held since 2019. In addition to eight foreign ministers, representatives of the region’s indigenous people are also expected to attend in Reykjavik. Founded in 1996, the Arctic Council aims to help balance the interests of countries bordering the Arctic. In addition to Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Canada, the council also includes the United States and Russia.

And here is where it gets complicated. So far, the council has mainly focused on coordinating maritime research and rescue in the region. Security issues were excluded. In doing so, they are moving more and more countries, and foreign ministers have been making more or less clear statements about this for days. And this Thursday, of all the people, Russia will assume the presidency of the council for the next two years. The Russian government announced that it will become the president as it will Vladimir Putin It ordered the development of cooperation between member states, for example environmental protection and economic development.

Polar bear on a raft in Svalbard in 2013

Polar bear on a raft in Svalbard in 2013

Photo: AFP

There’s no denying that cooperation is good for the Arctic, but there are concerns now. US Secretary of State Anthony Blink He made it clear even before meeting in Reykjavik that he saw the danger of military armament in the Arctic. “We have to prevent the region from becoming militarized,” Blinken said. There is concern that increased military activity in the Arctic increases “the risk of accidents” and threatens “the common goal of a peaceful and sustainable future for the region.”