NATO needs to adapt to new security challenges in the High North

18 November 2018

Halifax, Canada, 18 November - NATO needs to adapt its strategic posture in the High North to reflect new security realities, lawmakers from the Alliance’s Parliamentary Assembly said Saturday. That should include supporting the development of defensive assets by Allies in the region and more joint exercises.

“Arctic Allies need to be reassured in the face of the ongoing Russian military buildup,” said Canadian Senator Jane Cordy.

Cordy drafted a series of policy recommendations for NATO governments on security and cooperation in the High North. They are due to be adopted at the Annual Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly held, this year, in Halifax.

Members expressed concern over the scale and scope of Russia’s military build-up in the Arctic, including the revamping of its Northern Fleet, establishment of military infrastructure across the region and dramatic increases in air and submarine movement.

The rise in Russian activity comes as climate change risks triggering greater competition for natural resources and communication routes in the High North.
Despite the concern, the NATO PA urged governments to pursue a cooperative approach aimed at preventing competition in the region from becoming insurmountable.

“NATO’s involvement in the Arctic must be carefully calibrated to ensure that the Arctic remains an area of cooperation and low tension,” Cordy said.
Search and rescue, scientific research and fisheries were identified as areas where cooperation with Russia could be further developed.

Lawmakers underscored the importance of consulting indigenous communities on policies concerning the Arctic, a point emphasised by Udloriak Hanson, Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Transportation in the government of Nunavut, Canada’s northernmost territory.

“When you talk about the Arctic, you are talking about our homeland, you are talking about people,” she told the Assembly. “Security in the North not only requires Inuit involvement, it requires Inuit direction and oversight.”