The Arctic region is at an inflection point, says Canadian Chief of the Defence Staff. He points to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, military build-up in the Arctic, as well as increased economic interests towards the region.
“The Arctic is at an inflection point where effects from Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and their military build-up in the Arctic, the impacts of climate change, technological advancements, and economic interests are driving increasing interest, activity, and competition in a way that makes this region more strategically important than ever before."
The comment was made by Canadian Chief of the Defence Staff, General Wayne Eyre, following the Arctic Chiefs of Defence Meeting in St. John’s, Canada, on Monday.
Representatives from Canada, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and the United States participated in the meeting, the aim of which was to coordinate enhanced cooperation between Arctic states and to share lessons learned from ongoing Arctic operations.
“The international order is rapidly changing and the strategic importance of the Arctic continues to grow. And as the security environment continues to shift and becomes more dangerous, continental defence has much broader implications, and we must consider the global context in which we plan and conduct all of our activities and operations", Eyre said and added:
"We have witnessed in Ukraine the belligerence of our Arctic neighbour and we must be vigilant — what happens in Europe and across the globe has implications in our own backyard".
Improving presence in the North
The Canadian General pointed to the important work of collaboration between Arctic allies and partners in facing security challenges.
“We will continue to work closely with our allies and partners in strengthening our domain awareness, surveillance, and command and control capabilities through a wide range of initiatives in the Arctic, including modernizing NORAD, improving the CAF’s capabilities, mobility and presence in the North, and increasing our participation in multinational exercises in the region,” Eyre concluded.
The annual meetings of the defence chiefs of the armed forces of Arctic countries, in the so-called Arctic Chiefs of Defence Forum, ended in 2014 following Russia's annexation of Crimea.