BELGRADE, February 22. /TASS/. Russia is ready to defend its interests in the Arctic, despite US’ aspirations to control the region, Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council’s (upper house of parliament) Committee for Foreign Affairs Andrey Klimov told TASS on Friday.
"So far, US generals are not heads of state, although it is interesting to read what they have to say, of course. I would prefer it if it weren’t the generals speaking out about political issues, but the US State Department, Congress, or the US President. The generals’ opinion is not the be-all and end-all for us so far. As for the issue itself, there are international rules that regulate the use of land and sea, and we have proven a long time ago from the viewpoint of geology and geography, which areas of land and sea gravitate towards the Russian Federation," the senator noted.
"As for some countries that think that [the Arctic] is a free-for-all, and they must control it, which means: if it’s free then it’s ours, in order to protect our lawful interests, we have our own armed forces, which also have generals, just as capable, in my opinion. We have special units that may act in the Far North and its conditions, who have distinguished themselves. We also have our icebreaker fleet, the strongest in the world, which facilitates our peace agenda," Klimov added.
According to the senator, the reason for such statements is that "Russia is actively preparing and will soon be ready to operate the Northeast Passage, which is the shortest way from the North of Europe to such countries as Japan, Korea, China." "The active work of this passage may significantly change all existing trade and economic schemes in Eurasia, and the Americans are not very interested in that," he stated.
Earlier, US admiral James Foggo, commander of US naval forces in Europe and Africa, stated that the Arctic must remain a free and open space. In November 2018, US Marine Corps General and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford claimed that Russia is expanding its military presence in the Arctic, and that the US does not rule out this region becoming a conflict zone in the future. Moscow has consistently denied these claims.