Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia is committed to maintaining peaceful relations with Arctic nations while exploring the Arctic's largely untapped resources.
"The Arctic must be regarded as a space for an open and equitable dialogue...where there will be no place for geopolitical games by military blocs, backstage deals, or struggle for spheres of influence," Putin said in a message read to Arctic Council members on August 30 by Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev.
Russia is hosting a council meeting onboard a Russian nuclear icebreaker crossing the Arctic Ocean to the port of Pevek.
"Russia will remain committed to the peaceful development of the region, provided its own national interests are observed and the interests of all other countries unconditionally respected," Putin said. Stable development of the Arctic is becoming especially important, he said.
"As a matter of fact, the prosperity not only of the Arctic states but a number of other states depends on it," he said.
Patrushev said some differences have emerged over development of the continental shelves that extend beyond Russia, Canada, Alaska, and other areas into the sea, but these differences can be resolved peacefully.
The old Soviet Union may have been just as familiar with Canada’s Arctic waters as Canadians.
Sections of Cold-War-era nautical charts obtained by The Canadian Press suggest that Russian mariners have for decades possessed detailed and accurate knowledge of crucial internal waterways such as the Northwest Passage.
Those charts, which may offer the first documentary proof of the widely held belief that Soviet nuclear submarines routinely patrolled the Canadian Arctic during the Cold War, are still in use by Russian vessels. In some places, they are preferred to current Canadian charts.
A government purchase of F-35 fighter jets could cause "angst in Russia" and trigger an Arctic arms race, Arctic sovereignty expert Michael Byers said Thursday.
"I don't want my country to be the country that starts an Arctic arms race," Byers said as debate over the government's plan to spend $16 billion on 65 of the F-35s raged on several fronts on Parliament Hill.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay, centre, walks in front of an F-35 fighter at the news conference where the government announced plans to buy 65 of the jets in one of the biggest arms deals in the nation's history.
Michael Byers, Toronto Star, August 30, 2010
Don Quixote is famous for attacking windmills that he imagines are giants. Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay have been tilting at make-believe enemies too, in the form of Russian planes in international airspace.
Last Wednesday, Harper’s communications director sent an email to journalists informing them that a pair of Tupolev TU-95 bombers had been intercepted by Canadian CF-18s some 30 nautical miles (56 kilometres) from our Arctic coastline.
“Thanks to the rapid response of the Canadian Forces,” Dimitri Soudas wrote, “at no time did the Russian aircraft enter sovereign Canadian airspace.”
Soudas was right about Canada’s airspace, which extends just 12 nautical miles (22 kilometres) from shore. But he was wrong to suggest that the Russian bombers were headed there.
His efforts at sensationalism were quickly short-circuited by a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command. “Both Russia and NORAD routinely exercise their capability to operate in the North,” Lt. Desmond James explained. “These exercises are important to both NORAD and Russia and are not cause for alarm.”
It doesn’t seem like anyone took much notice, but last week marked the 50th anniversary of an exemplary international success — the signing of the Antarctic Treaty that turned the global Deep South into a demilitarized zone “forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes.”
Recognizing each other's sovereignty claims brings mutual benefits
MOSCOW -- Michael Byers, Globe and Mail, December 21, 2009
Amap produced by Natural Resources Canada has pride of place in Arctic ambassador Anton Vasiliev's office, in the Stalinist-era skyscraper housing the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Centred on the geographic North Pole, the map shows how Russia and Canada dominate the Arctic region. Between them, the two largest countries on Earth account for three-quarters of the Arctic Ocean's coastline.
Gerrard Cowan, Jane's Defence Weekly, April 3, 2009
Russia's plan to create an Arctic Group of Forces is not a step
towards military conflict in the High North and could actually help
foster increased co-operation in the region, Norwegian State Secretary
for Defence Espen Barth Eide has told Jane's .
The plan to create the force was announced on 27 March. It would be
readily deployable across the vast region and maintain interoperability
with the general Russian armed forces, border guard and coast guard.
Special ammunition, weaponry and transport would be designed for the
'freezing temperature' task force.
Moscow has insisted that it has no intention of militarising the
Arctic, saying its goal is to make the area "a zone of peace and
co-operation". This view was endorsed by Barth Eide, who said Norway
was "not concerned". He pointed to the increasing military investment
of other Arctic countries, including Norway, and said this was
"logical", given the potential for oil and gas reserves and
dramatically shortened transport routes.
"I don't think an increased military presence needs to increase
tensions if the interested parties are informed. Indeed, it can have
the opposite effect," he said. "During the Cold War, for example, good
intelligence was important to promote peace, as it could tell you what
another country was not doing as well as what it was doing."
Europe, North America and we in Russia need a new security treaty. So this is our proposal
Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister, The Guardian, January 30, 2009
As in the rest of the world, Russia has watched with great interest the first few days of the Barack Obama
presidency. It is far too early, of course, to take any settled view of
what the change at the White House might mean for the world.
is without doubt is the opportunity for a much more multilateral
approach to help ease tensions and overcome problems. At the heart of
any such approach must be an agreement to put in place effective
processes and institutions to meet the security and political concerns
of all countries. This will require them to look beyond their history
and narrow national interests.