Climate change will ‘fundamentally’ change how Canada and its allies manage the Arctic, says NATO chief – National

Melting sea ice and warming temperatures in the Arctic will “fundamentally” alter the security challenges facing Canada and NATO allies in the region as Russia and China forge closer strategic ties deep, warns the head of the military alliance.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke alongside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau from a Canadian Forces Air Base in Cold Lake, Alta., on Friday at a press conference in which the two leaders stressed the need to recognize the rapidly evolving security threats in the High Arctic.

“Climate change is making the Far North more important because the ice is melting and it’s becoming more accessible, both for economic activity and for military activity,” Stoltenberg said.

“It will require us to fundamentally transform our approach to security and defence, and Canada has an unrivaled understanding of this.

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He pointed to Russia’s remilitarization of their Arctic bases and strong interest from China, which has claimed to be a “near-Arctic” state, as risks that cannot be ignored as the two countries deepen their ties.

The closer relations between Moscow and Beijing come as both governments increasingly seek to challenge international laws and institutions that form the basis of global stability and trade following the fierce international retaliation against the unprovoked invasion. of Ukraine by Russia.

“It’s part of the deep and strategic partnership that challenges our values ​​and interests,” Stoltenberg said. “Our response is a strong and predictable allied presence in the region.”

Click to play video: 'No deep change' in Canada's stance on NATO Arctic engagement: Trudeau says”

‘No profound change’ in Canada’s stance on NATO engagement in Arctic, says Trudeau

‘No profound change’ in Canada’s stance on NATO engagement in Arctic, says Trudeau

Trudeau suggested that the past few months have made it clear that Canada cannot take Arctic security for granted, but has repeatedly stressed that the presence of the NATO chief does not represent a change in Canadian policy. in regional defence.

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“The geopolitical situation has changed over the past few months, so understanding that Russia is of increasing concern to all of us, it is timely for us to share with the Secretary General and NATO all that Canada is doing.” , did he declare. “There is no profound change in Canadian politics.”

This is not the first time defense and security leaders have issued such warnings.

In March, Canada’s military chief of defense intelligence told a parliamentary committee that Russia and China pose the greatest risk to Canadian and Western interests in the North.

General Michael Wright said that while the risks of a Russian incursion into the Arctic appeared low, the invasion of Ukraine that began on February 24 has “challenged” Russian President Vladimir’s long-standing claims. Putin on the desire for a peaceful zone in the Arctic. .

“With the melting sea ice, access to the region and associated tactics are increasing and this will have a significant impact on the security situation in the Arctic,” Wright said.

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Kevin Hamilton, director general of international security policy at Global Affairs Canada, noted at this same committee that “China could indeed seek to take advantage of much of the new infrastructure that the Russians have built in their High -Arctic”.

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The government has come under pressure in recent years to spend more on defense as NATO allies increase defense spending in light of the threat posed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Defense Minister Anita Anand described the world as growing “darker” and more “chaotic” at an industry event earlier this year.

In June, she said the government would spend some $40 billion over the next 20 years to modernize North American aerospace defense through the NORAD pact, including $4.9 billion to upgrade radars and systems. surveillance to detect threats from aircraft and missiles.

However, questions remain about exactly where the money came from, and sources told Global News earlier this year that there were significant concerns that the money might have to be recapitalized from the budget of existing defence.

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Why climate change in the Arctic affects us all

Why climate change in the Arctic affects us all – December 29, 2019

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Teresa H. Sadler