U.S. Defense Secretary Nominee Hopes Co-Operation with Russia in the Arctic will Continue

In December 2020, it was announced that U.S. President Joe Biden would nominate Lloyd James Austin III for the position of Secretary of Defense. The retired general has served in the U.S. army and led the U.S. Central Command during the 2013-2016 period. (Photo: Mike Strasser/USMA PAO).

U.S. Secretary of Defense nominee Lloyd Austin says he worries about Russian military buildup in the Arctic, as well as Chinese intentions. Nevertheless, he also stresses that the USA and Russia have a long history of cooperation in the region and hopes that will continue.

“The United States has a long history of cooperation with Russia in the Arctic region, and
it is my hope that can continue."

Those were the words of U.S. Secretary of Denfense nominee Lloyd Austin at Tuesday’s confirmation hearing in the Senate Armed Services Committee. 

Austin added, however, that the Arctic is fast becoming a region with geopolitical competition, and that he has serious concerns about the Russian military buildup in the region. If confirmed, Austin says he will amongst others make sure the US’ strategy towards Russia is coherent and efficient.

“ Likewise, I am deeply concerned about Chinese intentions in the region. If confirmed, I will assess the situation and consult allies and partners on
the strategy, posture, and equipment required to ensure a stable and open Arctic, as well as to protect the homeland, our economic interests, and deter aggression," he added. 

When asked whether current American and allied ports in the region are sufficient to achieve U.S. defense interests in the Arctic, in his view, Austin responds that he has not yet reviewed the full U.S. posture in the Arctic, nor for its allies and partners. He further says that he will assess the situation and consult with allies and partners about the strategy and position needed to secure a stable and open Arctic and to protect the homeland.

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This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by HNN's Elisabeth Bergquist.