The bloc’s plans in the far north will upset the regional balance, a top Russian ambassador has said
NATO’s military expansion in the Arctic is undermining regional security and justifying countermeasures from Russia, according to a senior official in the Foreign Ministry.
In an interview with RIA Novosti released on Sunday, Nikolay Korchunov, Russian ambassador at large, lamented the rising tensions in the Arctic caused by what he called the unconstructive policies of the United States and its allies.
He also said that NATO’s push to embrace Finland – which has already become a full member of the alliance – and Sweden shows that the bloc supports “powerful scenarios to increase its own security in the north at the expense of the security of other countries.”
Against this background, Korchunov warned that Moscow would respond to the challenge with “a set of necessary measures, including preventive ones”, taking into account the goals set out in Russia’s foreign policy concept and Arctic strategy.
At the same time, the diplomat signaled that Russia would continue to promote mutual trust in the polar region to support stability, cooperation and dialogue.
Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin named the development of the Arctic, along with the Far East, as the country’s strategic priority. He has previously noted that the region is of great importance to Russia in terms of defense and natural resources.
Last year, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia posed a strategic challenge to the alliance in the Arctic and called for an expanded military footprint in the region. Against this background, Finland and Sweden applied to join NATO in May 2022 amid the Ukraine conflict. While Helsinki officially became part of the US-led military bloc in April, Stockholm’s application remains in limbo. Turkey and Hungary have been reluctant to ratify the bid due to a number of outstanding issues in bilateral relations.
Meanwhile, Russian officials have repeatedly declared that Moscow’s policy in the far north poses no threat and warned that NATO’s “encroachment” in the region would only lead to escalating tensions. Russia has also said it has always sought peaceful cooperation in the region; however, it is ready to protect its interests and territorial integrity if necessary.