NATO PA debates Arctic security concerns
Stavanger, 10 October, 2015 – NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly on Saturday debated mounting concerns about Russia’s military build up in the Arctic and its security implications for the High North region.
“This is an area where NATO and Russian interests meet, with consequences for Norway,” she told the Assembly’s Defence and Security Committee. “Norway is particularly concerned with the need for predictability and stability in our relations with Russia.”
NATO PA members were expected on Sunday to approve a report underscoring the growing geopolitical importance of the Arctic, as climate change makes more of its natural resources available and increases the strategic role of sea routes.
“The Arctic is a harsh environment; it should not become harsher due to increased military and resource competition,” says the draft report, authored by Osman Bak, acting head of the Turkish Delegation to the NATO PA.
Bak expressed hope that international processes can settle any delimitation disputes and that “the threat of armed conflict in the Arctic is still very low.” However, the report – submitted to the NATO PA Science and Technology Commiteee - urged NATO to increase its focus on security challenges in the High North region.
“Such measures would put the Alliance in a position to realistically assess these challenges and devise collective responses if need be,” the draft says.
The head of Norway’s Inteligence Service, Lt. Gen. Kjell Grandhagen outlined a series of recent moves by Russia to ramp up its military footprint in the Arctic, including several airbases, the stationing of army brigades and new coastal and air defence instalations.
“The likelihood of Russia pursuing an even more challenging foreign policy in the Arctic has increased,” Grandhagen told the Political Committee of the NATO PA. “Continuous monitoring of Russian military developments in the High North is crucial.”