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NATO chief: Russia, China interested in Arctic

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TORONTO: North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg…

nato chief russia china interested in arctic
nato chief russia china interested in arctic
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TORONTO: North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday (Saturday in Manila) warned about Russia’s military buildup in the Arctic and China’s increasing interest in that part of the world.

During a visit to Canada’s north, Stoltenberg said the shortest path to North America for Russian missiles and bombers was over the North Pole. According to him, Russia has set up a new Arctic Command and has opened hundreds of new and former Soviet-era Arctic military sites, including airfields and deep-water ports.

“We see a significant Russian military buildup with new bases [and] weapons systems, and [Moscow is] also using the High North as a test bed for [its] most advanced weapons, including hypersonic missiles,” the NATO chief said at a military base in the city of Cold Lake in Canada’s western Alberta province.

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Stoltenberg also noted that China had declared itself a “near Arctic” state, and said Beijing planned to build the world’s largest icebreaker and was spending tens of billions of dollars on energy, infrastructure and research projects in the north.

“Beijing and Moscow have also pledged to intensify practical cooperation in the Arctic. This forms part of a deepening strategic partnership that challenges our values and interests,” he said.

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He also said climate change was making the Arctic more accessible for militaries and welcomed Canada’s recent announcement that it would bolster its spending on defense.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who accompanied Stoltenberg, showcased some of the spending and activities that Canada is making in the north. Those include promises to allocate billions of dollars for new military equipment and capabilities, including plans to purchase new fighter jets and modernize the aging North American Aerospace Defense Command early-warning system with Washington.

“The ill-fated, unjustifiable decision of Russia to upend nearly 70 years of peace and stability of a rules-based order by invading a peaceful neighbor, has changed the way we need to look at the Arctic,” Trudeau said, alluding to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, which reached its sixth month on Wednesday.

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