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US to Appoint Arctic Ambassador to Russia and China | New

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‘Critical strategic importance’, US says as Russia reopens hundreds of Soviet-era military sites in region and China describes itself as a ‘near Arctic’ state.

The United States plans to appoint a roving ambassador for the Arctic, reflecting the region’s growing strategic and commercial importance as melting ice opens up new shipping lanes and vast oil and mineral resources.

“A peaceful, stable, prosperous, and cooperative Arctic region is of critical strategic importance to the United States,” the US State Department said.

“As one of eight Arctic nations, the United States has long been committed to protecting our national security and economic interests in the region, combating climate change, fostering development and ‘sustainable investment and to promote cooperation with Arctic states, allies and partners’, it said.

The eight Arctic nations are Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia and the United States.

Russia has reopened hundreds of Soviet-era military sites in the region, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday, a day after his visit to the Arctic, saying Russian capabilities there represented a strategic challenge for the 30-nation alliance.

“Polar Silk Road”

Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation,” has heightened Western concerns about Russian ambitions around the world.

China, which describes itself as a “close to the Arctic” state, also has ambitions in the region and has announced its intention to build a “polar silk road”. China has its eye on mineral resources and new shipping routes as ice caps recede with rising temperatures.

In a statement on Friday, the State Department said President Joe Biden plans to increase the region’s prominence in the U.S. government by appointing a Goodwill Ambassador for the Arctic region, subject to advice and with the consent of the Senate.

He did not specify who would be named.

“The High North is strategically important for Euro-Atlantic security,” Stoltenberg told a news conference at an air base in Canada, noting that with Finland and Sweden joining, seven of the eight Arctic states will be members of NATO.

“The shortest route to North America for Russian missiles and bombers would be over the North Pole,” he warned. “This makes the role of NORAD vital for North America and therefore also for NATO.”

NORAD is the North American Aerospace Defense Command, a Canadian-American organization.

“Challenge our values”

Stoltenberg also expressed concerns about China’s reach in the Arctic for shipping and resource exploration, with plans to build the world’s largest fleet of icebreakers.

“Beijing and Moscow are committed to intensifying practical cooperation in the Arctic. This is part of the deepening strategic partnership that challenges our values ​​and interests,” Stoltenberg said.

NATO, he said, must respond with an increased presence in the High North and investment in new capabilities.

He noted that climate change posed new “security challenges” that required a fundamental overhaul of NATO’s Arctic posture.

“Climate change is making the Far North more important because the ice is melting and it is becoming more accessible for both economic activity and military activity,” he explained.