NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday warned about Russia’s military buildup in the Arctic and China’s increasing interest in that part of the world.
During a visit to Canada’s north, Stoltenberg said the shortest path to North America for Russian missiles and bombers is over the North Pole.
He said Russia has set up a new Arctic Command and has opened hundreds of new and former Soviet-era Arctic military sites, including airfields and deep-water ports. “We see a significant Russian military build-up with new bases, new weapons systems, and also using the High North as a test bed for their most advanced weapons, including hypersonic missiles,” Stoltenberg said at a Canadian military base in Cold Lake, Alberta.
Stoltenberg also noted China has declared itself a “near Arctic” state. He said Beijing plans to build the world’s largest icebreaker and is spending tens of billions of dollars on energy, infrastructure, and research projects in the north.
“Beijing and Moscow have also pledged to intensify practical cooperation in the Arctic. This forms part of a deepening strategic partnership that challenges our values and interests,” Stoltenberg said.
He also noted climate change is making the Arctic more accessible for militaries and welcomed Canada’s recent announcement that it will bolster its spending on defence. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who accompanied Stoltenberg, showcased some of the spending and activities that Canada is making in the north.
Those include promises to allocate billions of dollars for new military equipment and capabilities, including plans to purchase new fighter jets and modernise North America’s aging NORAD early-warning system with Washington.
“The ill-fated, unjustifiable decision of Russia to upend nearly 70 years of peace and stability of a rules-based order by invading a peaceful neighbour, has changed the way we need to look at the Arctic,” Trudeau said, alluding to the Russian attack on Ukraine.
Czech Par approves NATO’s northern expansion
PRAGUE, AUG 27 (IANS): Both chambers of the Czech Parliament have given their approval to NATO membership for Finland and Sweden, the most significant expansion of the Western defence alliance in years.
The Chamber of Deputies voted nearly unanimously to endorse the accession of the two Nordic countries in an overnight session that ended early Saturday, reports dpa news agency. The Senate voted in favour earlier this month.
The last step for ratification in the Czech Republic is the signature of President Milos Zeman.
The 77-year-old supports the enlargement plans, according to his spokesman.
Finland and Sweden declined to seek NATO membership for decades.
But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine changed the political calculus as large majorities in both countries saw it as critical to their security. All 30 current NATO member states must ratify the proposed additions. Including the Czech Republic, two dozen have given the go-ahead so far.