MOSCOW, January 17. /TASS/. Russia does not see any grounds to introduce military working methods into the Arctic and opposes attempts to pull the North Atlantic Treaty Organization into the region," Russian Acting Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a press conference summing up the results of Russian diplomacy in 2019.
"There are no reasons to bring any military practices into the Arctic. In this regard, we believe that the attempts to drag NATO into this region, into northern high latitudes, are wrong," he stressed. "We stand for reviving the past practice when heads of General Staffs of Arctic Council members were meeting solely to ensure the required level of trust. We are now proposing resuming these meetings, maybe starting with expert consultations."
"In general, I believe the Arctic Council to be one of the few organizations that at least for now — touch wood — is shielded from ideologization and politicization," he continued. "Very important decisions on cooperation in emergencies are made there — particularly in case of, God forbid, oil spills, on scientific cooperation, fishing in the Arctic Ocean and a number of other decisions."
Speaking about Russia assuming presidency in the Arctic Council in 2021-2023, Lavrov assured that the Russian Arctic agenda "will ensure consistency of operations." "Iceland heads the council now," the diplomat noted. "We keep in regular contact and will continue meeting with the Icelandic [foreign] minister. As we approach 2021, specific agenda will be drafted which will allow us to continue to smoothly advance processes agreed by all members, including economic, climate protection and environmental issues and, of course, ensuring life standards of native [Northern] people in a maximum comfortable way."