Russia Threatens to Withdraw From the Arctic Council

Nikolay Korchunov, Russia's Arctic Ambassador and leader of the Russian chairship of the Arctic Council. (Photo: Roscongress)

"We need to keep all political options open, including a withdrawal from the Arctic Council," says Russia's Arctic Ambassador, Nikolay Korchunov.

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That is reported by the Russian MoD to the state news bureau Ria Novosti.

Norway currently holds the chairship of the Arctic Council, but the council's officials have not met at a political or diplomatic level since Russia invaded Ukraine. Now, the ministry says Russia will withdraw if the operations do not correspond to Moscow's interests.

The cooled relations between Russia and the West have affected the Council greatly since the 7 Western Arctic states paused all official work within the Council until Norway took over leadership of the Council last May.

Does not rule out anything

There was great uncertainty surrounding the process, and although the work resumed as Norway took over, it is still without official contact with Russia. 

"The Russian MoD cannot rule out a withdrawal from the Arctic Council if the council's work and activities do not correspond to Russia's interests," says Nikolay Korchunov, Russia's Arctic Ambassador.

"We must keep all options open for foreign policy maneuvring, including withdrawal from the Arctic Council," said the diplomat.

Korchunov believes the council is working at the "lowest speed possible". 

The Arctic Council, as we know it, will die.

Researcher Svein Vigeland Rottem, Fridjof Nansen Institute.

The Arctic Council will die

According to researcher Svein Vigeland Rottem at the Fridjof Nansen Institute, the Arctic Council will not survive without Russia. However, when High North News spoke to the Arctic Council expert last week, he did not believe Russia wanted to leave the council.

But if that were to happen, he had no doubts.

"The Arctic Council, as we know it, will die if Russia withdraws. But I do not think Russia will withdraw from the Arctic Council, even though they sometimes send mixed signals. It is not in their interest."

Regular contact

During a debate at the High North conference Arctic Frontiers, Norway's Arctic Ambassador said she is in regular contact with Russia.

"As the leader of the Arctic Council, we have discussions with all members, including our Russian colleagues."

She said Russia has been "very constructive in Arctic cooperation as it has always been."

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