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Arctic: Russia

Question for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

UIN 21223, tabled on 23 June 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking in response to the advance of Russia into the Arctic Circle.

Answered on

2 July 2021

The UK recognises that Russia, as an Arctic State, is an important presence in the region. The UK's 2018 Arctic Policy Framework sets out our vision and priorities for the region. This is for an Arctic that is safe, secure and peaceful. The UK seeks to support the maintaining of high levels of international cooperation and low tensions in the Arctic, including through working with our Allies and partners to demonstrate international rights to freedom of access and navigation in the region. As such, we welcome the commitments to maintaining peace, stability and constructive cooperation made by all Arctic States at the Arctic Council Ministerial meeting in Reykjavik in May.

In 2020 the UK recommenced naval operations in the Arctic. This included operations with a US-led task group in May 2020 and a UK-led task group in September, which included US and Norwegian vessels. Operations in the Arctic take place in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and are carefully calibrated to minimise risk and conducted in conjunction with Allies and partners, when practically possible, to demonstrate unity of purpose. We remain committed to treaty-based risk reduction measures with Russia: we, like eleven other NATO Allies, have an established Treaty with Russia on the Prevention of Incidents at Sea.