Gao Feng, China’s special Arctic envoy, was asked if China would support an Arctic Council without Russia. He said they wouldn’t and instead used his first trip abroad to point out that China is still cooperating with Russia.
“I don’t know if the leadership will be left to anyone. Nor in Norway,” Feng said.
The countries that want to dissolve the Arctic Council are, like China, without an Arctic affiliation, but nevertheless with a strong will to play on the Arctic stage in the coming decades. We are pawns in their quest for food and energy, but also in their search for new positions when the original model of Arctic cooperation is replaced by a new one. The breakup of the Arctic Council, sometimes the only functional link between East and West, attracts both new and old players.
I have written extensively about the militarization of the Arctic over the past few weeks and months. On the flight from Reykjavik, I flip through my notes looking for lights in all the darkness.
The closest I get is a statement from the Icelandic Foreign Minister, Thordis Kolbrun Reykfjord Gylfadottir.
“Hope is not a strategy.”
No comfort either. Nor any definite answer as to whether Russian brutality will extend to other frontiers, to the Arctic. Just a constant and direct insistence that NATO is preparing with everything it has for this to happen.