Arctic nations Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and the United States have condemned “Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine” and are “pausing” temporarily and indefinitely the work of the 8-state Arctic Council, the top intergovernmental forum of the region.
In a joint statement, the seven countries noted “the grave impediments to international cooperation, including in the Arctic, that Russia’s actions have caused. We remain convinced of the enduring value of the Arctic Council for circumpolar cooperation and reiterate our support for this institution and its work.”
Russia is mid-way through its two-year tenure as the Council’s rotating chair. The next meeting of senior officials had been planned for Arkhangelsk in late May.
After the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, Russia was excluded from Arctic forums on security, including the Arctic Forces Security Roundtable.
“We hold a responsibility to the people of the Arctic, including the indigenous peoples, who contribute to and benefit from the important work undertaken in the Council,” the seven countries declared in their March 3 statement.
“The core principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, based on international law, have long underpinned the work of the Arctic Council, a forum which Russia currently chairs,” they added, before concluding: “In light of Russia’s flagrant violation of these principles, our representatives will not travel to Russia for meetings of the Arctic Council. Additionally, our states are temporarily pausing participation in all meetings of the Council and its subsidiary bodies, pending consideration of the necessary modalities that can allow us to continue the Council’s important work in view of the current circumstances.” (Dreamstime photo)