NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned on Friday against Russia’s military build-up in the Arctic and China’s growing interest in that part of the world.
During a visit to northern Canada, Stoltenberg said the shortest route to North America for Russian missiles and bombers is through the North Pole. He said Russia had set up a new Arctic command and opened hundreds of new and old Soviet-era military sites in the Arctic, including airfields and deep-sea ports.
“We are seeing a significant build-up of the Russian military with new bases, new weapon systems and also using the High North as a test bed for their most advanced weapons, including hypersonic missiles,” he said. Stoltenberg at a Canadian military base in Cold Lake, Alberta.
Stoltenberg also noted that China has declared itself a “near Arctic” state. He said Beijing plans to build the world’s largest icebreaker and is spending tens of billions of dollars on energy, infrastructure and research projects in the north.
“Beijing and Moscow are also committed to intensifying practical cooperation in the Arctic. This is part of a deep strategic partnership that challenges our values and interests,” Stoltenberg said.
He also noted that climate change is making the Arctic more accessible to the military and welcomed Canada’s recent announcement that it will increase defense spending.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who accompanied Stoltenberg, presented some of Canada’s spending and activities in the North. He promises to allocate billions of dollars for new military equipment and capabilities, including plans to buy new fighter jets and upgrade North America’s aging NORAD early warning system with Washington.
“Russia’s unfortunate and unjustifiable decision to end nearly 70 years of peace and stability of a rules-based order by invading a peaceful neighbor has changed the way we must look at the Arctic,” said Trudeau, alluding to Russia. attack on Ukraine.