22 January 2018
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Future of the Arctic in focus as more countries start playing in the region (by Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to UK)

As interest in the Arctic region, its exploration and preservation, rapidly grows, the Arctic Council is getting more hands to help out with the new Permanent Arctic Council Secretariat starting its work in northern Norway.

Eight Arctic nations, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the US, make the Arctic council, but as of May 15, twelve permanent observers have joined the Council. These include countries away from the Arctic circle such as China, Italy, Japan and South Korea. With Arctic ice melting and new opportunities for commercial transportation and extraction of mineral resources, new platers are being attracted to the region. The decision on permanent observers reflects growing interest toward the Arctic among non-Arctic states.

This also means that more states accept the role of the Council in defining the future of the Arctic and recognize the principle of sovereignty of the Arctic states and the responsibility for managing affairs of that vital area, which, indeed, strengthens the significance of this international body on a global scale.

At the meeting in Kiruna the ministers signed the second legally binding pan-Arctic document in history - the Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic. This, further evidence of the Arctic countries’ responsibility role for the state of affairs in the region. The next is preparation of the Agreement on Marine Oil Spill Prevention. The Arctic Council also continues to discuss the problem of black carbon - this issue requires focused and comprehensive study.

Russia welcomes the results of the completed large-scale scientific projects of the Arctic Council accompanied by valuable recommendations. It's believed they will help better understand the changes taking place in the Arctic region, to forecast the vector of their development and will be in demand when our countries make relevant decisions.
One of the evident achievements of the Swedish presidency is the fruitful meeting of ecology ministers of member-states this February, the interaction between the military that started last year.

The interest in the Arctic region is growing fast. We welcome the observers, including China and Italy, whose status is subject to the criteria approved in Nuuk. Several other applications will be considered at the next session of the Council.

The priorities of the starting Canadian presidency in the Council are shared by us – development of resources of the North, the use of Arctic maritime transport route, support for those who live in the Arctic region. They are largely in line with the Strategy of Development of the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation and Ensuring National Security for the period till 2020.

It is important that all Arctic strategies adopted in member-states of the Council state that national interests may be fully secured only through close cooperation with partners in the region. The changes taking place in the Arctic region not only bring common challenges to us, but also open up new opportunities for cooperation.

It is hard to overestimate the importance of a rather symbolic trip of senior officials of the Arctic Council to the North Pole this April together with the Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Nikolai Patrushev and a well-known Russian polar explorer Artur Chilingarov and their photos taken against the background of flags of the eight member-states and the flag of the Arctic Council.

Russia will hold the third international Arctic Forum organized by the Russian Geographical Society in Salekhard on 24-25 September 2013.

We are convinced that all the issues not settled yet in the Arctic region – and their number is diminishing – will be resolved by the Arctic countries on the existing and sufficient international and legal basis and, of course, good will.
The Arctic region is becoming an example for many other, unfortunately, less peaceful regions. Russia has no doubts that the future of the Arctic region will be defined by notions like peace, sustainable development, close cooperation and strong Arctic Council.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.



29.11.2017 - Afghan opium production jumps to record level (by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko for RT)

According to the latest Afghanistan Opium Survey released by the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in 2017 opium production in Afghanistan increased by 87 per cent to a record level of 9,000 metric tons. The area under opium poppy cultivation also grew by 63 per cent to its highest level of 328,000 hectares. Afghanistan is the world's top cultivator of the poppy from which opium and heroin are produced. The 2017 record levels of opium production and poppy cultivation create multiple challenges for the country, its neighbours and many other countries that serve as a transit for or a destination of Afghan opiates. The significant levels of opium poppy cultivation and illicit trafficking of opiates fuel instability, insurgency and increase funding to terrorist groups in Afghanistan.

19.10.2017 - Why to fight with memorials (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The campaign in Poland against World War II memorials to Soviet officers and soldiers, who had liberated the country from the Nazi occupation, is gaining momentum. Warsaw has created a legal framework allowing the disposal of Soviet/Russian memorial objects or taking them out of public sight, including the most widespread monuments of gratitude to the Red Army. Why?

18.10.2017 - Syria: collective humanitarian efforts, not sanctions, are needed more than ever (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The situation in Syria is undergoing serious transformation. Due to the de-escalation process, it has now become possible to drastically reduce the level of violence, to improve the humanitarian situation as well as to fight terrorists more efficiently. The ISIS-controlled territory is shrinking. On 14-15 September, at the international meeting in Astana all four de-escalation zones were finalized.

05.10.2017 - What You Have to Know about Status of Crimea (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The coup d’état in Kiev in February 2014 backed by the West tore up the constitutional space in Ukraine. The legitimate President of the country was overthrown. It was marked by a severe lack of democracy and violence that posed a direct threat to the well-being of Russian-speaking population of Crimea. Citizens of Crimea faced the choice of becoming an oppressed minority or severing their ties with the hostile regime to secure a future for themselves and their children. The decision to hold a referendum was made by legitimate local authorities. The independence of Crimea was proclaimed and an appeal to enter the Russian Federation was made based on the indisputable results of the popular vote. Standards of international law were fully observed as the right of nations to self-determination enshrined in the UN Charter was exercised freely by the Crimeans. Crimea was recognized as an independent and sovereign state by Russia and on 18 March 2014 in Moscow the two countries signed a Treaty of Unification, under which the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol became two new regions - subjects of the Russian Federation.

05.10.2017 - NATO increased military presence in Europe: road to nowhere (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

As part of the implementation of the conclusions of the NATO Summit in Warsaw, four multinational battlegroups have been deployed in Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia with the total number of troops exceeding 4500. The idea of creating similar rotating units in Bulgaria and Romania in 2018 is being widely discussed by NATO members. If put together, these battlegroups amount to a motorized infantry brigade with heavy weapons.

30.09.2017 - Russia’s initiative on protecting SMM OSCE in South-East of Ukraine (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

On 5th September, at the 9th BRICS Summit in Xiamen President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin has announced an initiative to establish the United Nations Mission on Support in Protecting the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) OSCE in the South-East of Ukraine.

25.09.2017 - Eurasian Economic Union today (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

Though hardly noticeable in the Western media, the Eurasian economic cooperation is booming, with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) becoming an increasingly effective integration project. The unique format of enhanced economic coordination along with the EAEU member states’ retained political sovereignty and cultural identity is proving itself.

25.09.2017 - On Russia's assistance to Central Asia (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

Russia attaches great importance to the issue of sustainable development as it is underlined by the UN. Among our priorities in this area is the development of Central Asia. We contribute to the development of this region on a regular basis, regardless of the global economic crisis and its negative effect on Russia’s economy. In today’s world, international aid is often politically motivated and aimed at exerting one’s influence. Russia has a different approach.

25.09.2017 - IX BRICS Summit – turning into a global organisation (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The 9th BRICS summit in Xiamen, China, has emphasized the proximity of positions of the member states on the current global problems. It demonstrated that over the last 10 years BRICS has grown into a full-fledged international mechanism for global cooperation.

08.09.2017 - SCO sets standards for countering extremism (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

In June 2017, the leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) signed the SCO Convention on Countering Extremism, which will help strengthen the international legal framework to address new challenges and threats as well as increase the effectiveness of cooperation between relevant authorities of the member states and to improve legislation in this area.

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