MOSCOW, February 21. /TASS/. There are no issues either in the Arctic region or the Barents Sea that would require a military build-up, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a news conference following meeting with Swedish top diplomat, Margot Wallstrom, on Tuesday.
He noted that decision-making on key issues of the Arctic region is the domain of the Arctic Council. "The countries that wish to cooperate on the Arctic affairs, have every right to do so by applying for observer status with the Arctic Council," the minister said. "The rules on inviting observers that were agreed in the Arctic Council for a long time have finally been approved, and the relevant countries can use them. Some of them have already been granted this status."
"I have heard nothing about serious attempts to lobby the signing of an international agreement on the Arctic, which means that these attempts do not deserve our attention," Russia’s top diplomat said. "The Arctic Council is developing international legally binding documents on the key issues related to the development of this region, including the prevention of pollution of marine environment and cooperation in search and rescue efforts and in other areas."
Lavrov also noted that any issues concerning the delimitation of the continental shelf are being tackled quite successfully in accordance with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
"Today, Ms. Minister and I once again reaffirmed our common stance that there are no problems in the Arctic region, in the Barents Sea or in the Baltic sea that should be solved by military means or by stepping up military presence there," the minister said. "Therefore, I see no need for an international agreement on Arctic governance either from the point of view of infrastructure and economy or from the point of view of security."