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Russia’s ambassador: military cooperation in Arctic does not mean militarisation of region

February 01, 2014, 12:18 UTC+3 OTTAWA

"We see it our obligation to secure the navigation. We have started extracting oil on the shelf. The economic activities in the Arctic have been growing", - Anton Vasilyev stressed

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© ITAR-TASS/Vladimir Smirnov

OTTAWA, February 01, 11:21 /ITAR-TASS/. The development of the military cooperation among the Arctic countries should not be considered the region’s militarisation, Russia’s Ambassador at Large and representative at the Arctic Council /AC/ Anton Vasilyev said in an interview with Itar-Tass. He had participated in the Council’s meeting on organisation of the Arctic Economic Council.

“The demand for further improvement of military cooperation among the Arctic countries is evident,” the ambassador said. “What forms it will have will depend on practical agreements.”

“Take for example Russia, with its 20,000-kilometres’ borders along the Arctic Ocean. Formerly, the border was protected fully by the ice and severe climate. Now the climate is milder, the ices are melting. Thus emerges the task of adding our military presence there to secure the country from illegal border crossing, illegal emigration, organised crime and terror. Secondly, we have been developing actively navigation along the Northern Sea Route. We see it our obligation to secure the navigation. We have started extracting oil on the shelf. The economic activities in the Arctic have been growing. However, growing are also man-made catastrophes. We also see higher demand for additions efforts in search and rescue of people in the region. Thus, the first legally binding agreement among the Arctic countries was on search and rescue of people. This is complicated to do without assistance from the military.”

“As heads of the Air Force headquarters from the Arctic Council’s countries had their first meeting in April 2012 at Canada’s Goose Bay aviation base, they agreed the first task for cooperation would be missions in search and rescue,” the Russian diplomat said. “This is very important. They also agreed then to have meetings of the kind every year. Last year, it was in Ilulissat /Greenland/. This year, another annual meeting is due in Iceland in June.”

“Higher attention from the AC countries towards the military factor in the Arctic should not be considered as militarisation,” the ambassador continued. “It is implementation of national sovereignties of the countries, which share responsible approaches to the region’s security. Everything has been done transparently, logically, and is not aimed against any neighbours, is not of a destabilising character and does not cross any ‘red lines’.

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