NATO Admiral: We cannot be naive and ignore Russia and China’s potentially malicious intentions in the Arctic – Altinget

The Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Dutch Admiral Rob Bauer, has issued a warning to NATO countries regarding the actions and plans of Russia and China in the Arctic. The warning was not just aimed at the six NATO countries that now have territory in the Arctic; Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and the United States.

“Increased competition and militarization in the Arctic region, particularly from Russia and China, are concerning. Melting ice in the Arctic is creating new shipping lanes that will facilitate the movement of large ships and reduce shipping time. We cannot be naive and ignore the potentially harmful intentions of certain actors in the region. We must be vigilant and prepare for the unexpected,” Bauer emphasized while being a keynote speaker at the major Arctic Circle conference in Reykjavik, Iceland, last week.

NATO must prepare for conflict in the region given Russia’s ability to operate in the Arctic, Bauer believes. But NATO countries should not worry about the Arctic immediately becoming a “hotspot of conflict with Russia,” Bauer said, according to Bloomberg Newsin his speech at the conference.

Due to his position as military advisor to the NATO Secretary General and the North Atlantic Council of Ambassadors, Bauer is the highest-ranking officer in the alliance. He heads the military committee, where all NATO countries are represented.

Ignore the warning

In Moscow, Rob Bauer’s warning is not heeded.

“I believe that this statement is not based on any serious and fundamental analysis of Russia’s position in the Arctic region. This is clearly an attempt to justify the need for NATO’s presence in the Arctic.” , Russian Ambassador for the Arctic Nikolai Korchunov told the Russian news agency Tass.

In the interview with Bloomberg News after the speech, Bauer noted that NATO is increasingly concerned about Chinese maritime traffic through the Northeast Passage along Russia’s Arctic coast and about possibility that its commercial and scientific interests could be a precursor to Chinese military presence in the country. The arctic.

“We know there are military scientists on board these ships. They didn’t say they didn’t want to go militarily,” Rob Bauer said.

NATO is also concerned about China’s increasingly close ties with Russia, particularly in energy and transport cooperation. This caused an increase in shipments of Russian crude oil to China via Arctic waters.

Regional plans

At the Vilnius Summit in Lithuania in July, heads of state and government of the NATO alliance agreed that regional plans should be developed for the southern, eastern and northern flanks of NATO countries. NATO.

The latter – called the Northern Regional Plan – concerns the Atlantic Ocean and the European part of the Arctic. Responsibility for the region lies with NATO Allied Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, in the US state of Virginia, where the Altinget visited last year.

“JFC Norfolk ensures that NATO’s force posture supports Arctic operations and ensures greater coherence in Arctic defense. This ensures that forces and equipment can be moved between continents in the event of conflict or peace and protects our freedom of navigation,” explained Rob Bauer.

Adele Matthews

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