Russia warns of ‘unintended incidents’ as NATO increases military activity in the Arctic, TASS says

Nikolai Korchunov, who currently chairs the Arctic Council's Senior Arctic Officials, did not specify what type of incident he might be referring to.

By Reuters - April 18, 2022
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Finnish soldiers stand next to a tank during the Cold Response 2022 military exercises, which gathered around 30,000 troops from NATO member countries plus Finland and Sweden, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Evenes, Norway on March 22, 2022. (Yves Herman / Reuters)

Russia is worried about increased activity of NATO forces in the Arctic and sees risks of “unintended incidents” occurring in the region, TASS news agency cited Russian ambassador-at-large Nikolai Korchunov as saying on Sunday.

In March, Finland and Sweden, which are both considering joining the U.S.-led military NATO alliance, participated in combined NATO military drills. The Cold Response 2022 exercise was long planned, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 added intensity to the war games.

[Why Putin faces more NATO in the Arctic after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine]

“The recent increase in NATO’s activity in the Arctic is a cause for concern,” said Korchunov, who is also the current chair of the Arctic Council’s Senior Arctic Officials, during Russia’s current tenure in the council’s year rotating chair. “Another large-scale military exercise of the alliance was recently held in northern Norway. In our view, this does not contribute to the security of the region.”

Nikolai Korchunov, the Russian chair of the Arctic Council’s Senior Arctic Officials, is pictured at an SAO plenary meeting in Salekhard, Russia in December 2021. (Vyacheslav Viktorov / Roscongress via The Arctic Council)

According to Korchunov, such activity raises the risk of “unintended incidents,” which, in addition to security risks, can also cause serious damage to the Arctic ecosystem.

He did not specify what type of incident he might be referring to.

One of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies warned NATO on Thursday that if Sweden and Finland joined NATO then Russia would deploy nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles in the Kaliningrad exclave.