Tuesday, 21 May, 2019


Pompeo: US Will "Fortify" Military Presence In Arctic

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shakes hands with the US' ambassador to Finland Robert Frank Pence after arriving in Rovaniemi Finland Pompeo Arrives in Finland amid Growing Chinese Encroachment in the Arctic 17MANDEL NGAN AFP Getty KRISTINA WONG6 May 2019
Kristine Garrett | 07 May, 2019, 18:23

Pompeo claims that Russian Federation and China are aggressively moving to exploit natural resources in the Arctic, something Politico notes they are now able to do because of melting ice.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov turned to unequivocal irony when a journalist from CNN asked him if Moscow had any "leverages or opportunities" to stop a potential US intervention in Venezuela at a press briefing following his meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Finland on Monday.

Noting that China's most northern tip was 900 miles (1,450 kilometres) from the Arctic, Pompeo swatted down Beijing's attempts to style itself as a "near Arctic state".

The Arctic Council's remit excludes military matters, but participants have already clashed, with the Washington Post reporting that the United States had refused to sign off on a final declaration, disagreeing with the wording on climate change.

"America is the world's leader in caring for the environment", he said.

In his statement to the Council meeting, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, "the Trump administration shares your deep commitment to environmental stewardship".

The intergovernmental forum is made up of the eight northern nations and six Arctic Indigenous groups, and its mandate is to discuss sustainable development and environmental protection in the North. "No third category exists, and claiming otherwise entitles China to exactly nothing", he said, adding that China's activities in the region must be closely monitored.

Chinese officials said Beijing's investments in the Arctic region, seen as an extension of Chinese President Xi Jinping's signature Belt and Road Initiative, are "open, inclusive and transparent". "China's pattern of aggressive behavior elsewhere will inform how it treats the Arctic", Pompeo said.

"I think the answers are pretty clear", the top American diplomat said.

"He says it's a new era". The communist regime invested $90 billion in the region from 2012 to 2017, according to Pompeo.

Pompeo accused Russia of breaking maritime laws by requiring foreign ships traveling through global waters in the Arctic to ask for permission before proceeding and demands that Russian maritime pilots be present aboard transiting vessels.

"We know Russian territorial ambitions can turn violent", he said, pointing to the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Lassi Heininen, research director at Finland's University of Helsinki, said the content and timing of Pompeo's speech were out of place at an Arctic Council ministerial, where traditionally no one state tries to "steal the show". Many of those critics fear the administration is intent on using Arctic resources with no thought for its consequences or mitigation.

"It's not about whether climate change can be mentioned or not". It may impact the inter-state relations and security in our region. Finland has spent its two-year chairmanship of the council focused on addressing climate change effects.

"Steady reductions in sea ice are opening new naval passageways and new opportunities for trade, potentially slashing the time it takes for ships to travel between Asia and the West by 20 days", he said in the speech, which was met with polite but muted applause.

"Arctic sea lanes could become the 21st century Suez and Panama Canals", Pompeo remarked. The region is believed to hold 13 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and 30 percent of the undiscovered gas, plus uranium, rare earth minerals, gold and diamonds.

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