Russia a strategic threat for NATO in the Arctic: Stoltenberg
NATO’s secretary-general alleges that Russia’s military capabilities in the North are a strategic challenge to the Western military alliance in the region.Speaking during a visit to Canada on Friday, Jens Stoltenberg accused Moscow of creating “a significant military buildup” in the high North.He claimed that Russia had reopened hundreds of Soviet-era military sites in the Arctic. The NATO chief also alleged that Moscow used the region to test new weapons systems.
The alliance, therefore, had to beef up its military presence across its northern flank to counter Russia, Stoltenberg said.
"The shortest path to North America for Russian missiles and bombers would be over the North Pole," he warned.
"This makes NORAD's role vital for North America and therefore also for NATO," he added, referring to the North American Aerospace Defense Command, a United States-Canadian organization
Russia has, in the past, likewise raised concern about the US-led alliance’s increased military activity in the Arctic.
Earlier in the year, Nikolai Korchunov, Russian ambassador-at-large for Arctic cooperation, warned about the risks of “unintended incidents” occurring in the region prompted by the alliance’s military activity in the region, which he called a “cause for concern.”
Back then, Korchunov warned that the alliance’s large-scale military exercises in the Arctic “do not contribute to the security of the region.”
His comments followed NATO’s latest military drill, dubbed “Cold Response 2022,” which began on March 14 and lasted for two weeks.
It was the NATO’s largest exercise in the Arctic in more than three decades, held across Norway—on land, in the air, and at sea—with the participation of 30,000 troops from 27 countries.
The NATO chief also noted that with Finland and Sweden’s joining the alliance—which is an underway process—seven of eight Arctic states would be NATO members.
Moscow says Finland and Sweden’s accession to NATO created a risk of turning the region into a theater of military operations.