May 23, 2014

"Let’s see how the next Arctic Council SAO meeting in Yellowknife, Canada this autumn works out."

Alaska Dispatch "When a meeting of the Senior Arctic Officials of the Arctic Council scheduled to take place in Canada in June was canceled, one couldn’t help assuming the political standoff between Russia, on the one side, and the United States and other European partners on the other over Ukraine must have played a role." by Irene Quaile via Deutsche Welle

'The Arctic Council Secretariat, based in Tromso in Norway, was keen to play down any political implications. In response to my inquiry, I was told the meeting had been rescheduled in form of teleconferences and written exchanges, and various meetings of Council working groups and task forces were going ahead in the coming weeks in Canada and in other Arctic Council member states. Business as usual? When Canada, which currently holds the chair of the Arctic Council, boycotted a working meeting of the organization planned for April in Moscow, Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq called it a “principled stand” against Russian actions in Ukraine.

'On other levels, the political repercussions of the Ukraine crisis for the Arctic are undisputed. A statement from the U.S. State Department reads:

'“Given Russia’s ongoing violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the US government has taken a number of actions, to include curtailing official government-to-government contacts and meetings with the Russian Federation on a case-by-case basis.”

'That includes Arctic-related events. The withdrawal of State Department funding for a hazard-reduction workshop planned for June between Russian scientists and their U.S. counterparts. The head of Russia’s emergency services also failed to show up at an international meeting in Alaska last month.

'With the West looking to broaden sanctions against Russia because of the Ukraine dispute, relations between the two factions are bound to be strained in a region where climate change has set off a highly competitive race for oil, gas and other resources.'
 

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