Arctic security concerns resurface in Canadian territories amid war with Russia

For most of next week, residents of Canada’s Northwest Territories could see a larger military presence and planes roar. This is part o...


For most of next week, residents of Canada’s Northwest Territories could see a larger military presence and planes roar.

This is part of a routine training exercise by NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, a partnership between Canadian and US military forces for surveillance and warning against air and sea attacks .

At any other time, routine training would not be a cause for concern. Corn Russia’s War in Ukraine radically changed the view that the Arctic is a “zone of peace,” a term coined by former Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev in a speech he gave two years before the end of the Cold War.

The premiers of the three northern territories co-signed a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on March 2, expressing growing concern about Arctic defense and security in light of Russia’s war. The sense of alert in Canada’s North has grown, so much so that Premier Caroline Cochrane of the Northwest Territories posted on Twitter to “assure residents” that the NORAD training exercise was unrelated to the conflict in Ukraine.

“Interest in the Arctic has increased due to climate change and the opening of Arctic waters, and it is paramount that northerners are involved in decisions that impact the North,” said Ms. Cochrane in an emailed statement.

Compared to its neighbours, Russia has the longest Arctic coastline and has seen the melting Arctic ice as an opportunity to advance its energy security ambitions by developing northern energy sources and to help its results in developing shorter trade routes that would reduce freight shipping costs. West.

At the same time, the country has seen a steady military expansion in the Arctic which, in the context of the war in Ukraine, has made diplomatic efforts paramount.

But like I reported this weeka key forum for collaboration on arctic policy, was dissolved last week with the suspension of the activities of the Arctic Council, the main diplomatic organization in the region, in response to what the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called an “unprovoked invasion” of Ukraine.

The eight-nation Arctic Council is one of at least four diplomatic organizations that have suspended work or stopped working with Russia in recent days.

[Read: Arctic Diplomacy Upended By Russian Invasion]

Michael Byers, a political science professor at the University of British Columbia who studies Arctic sovereignty, said the Arctic is not monolithic and European Arctic countries were more likely than the Canada to feel a greater threat.

“The North American Arctic still has a lot of sea ice,” he said. “It also has very little infrastructure and a very sparse population, and it’s a long way from Russia,” he added. “If I was Norwegian, I would be watching Russia very closely right now.”

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver said while there is no immediate threat to Canada’s North, physical changes to the landscape, given political shifts and melting polar ice as a result climate change, are attracting the attention of the federal government.

Canadians “are so used to looking at an image of the globe specific to North America,” Silver told me, adding that in the Arctic region, people don’t that. “Our maps have a center piece of the North Pole, and around that you have eight nations all looking at receding glacial growth.”

  • For this week’s Saturday profile, I spent some time with Hazel McCallion, former mayor of Mississauga, the seventh largest city in Canada. Ms McCallion celebrated her 101 birthday in February.

  • Alex Ovechkin, one of Russia’s most famous athletes, is known to be a close friend and supporter of his country’s President Vladimir V. Putin. Mr. Ovechkin’s hockey team, the Washington Capitals, faced this week against the Oilers in EdmontonAlberta, a city with 160,000 people of Ukrainian descent.

  • A poutine owner from central Quebec, who is also a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, changed the name of his company because of the similarity of the French pronunciation of “poutine” with that of Poutine.

  • Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has announced that the province ending most indoor mask requirements later this month.


Vjosa Isai is Canada News Assistant at The New York Times. Follow her on Twitter at @lavjosa.


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Newsrust - US Top News: Arctic security concerns resurface in Canadian territories amid war with Russia
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