Mar 3, 2022 - World

Arctic Council members suspend participation over Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Arctic Council meeting
Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov within the Arctic Council meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland in May 2021. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Seven out of the eight members of the Arctic Council announced Thursday that they would temporarily suspend their participation due to Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

Why it matters: The Arctic Council is the main organization fostering cooperation in the Arctic region and is comprised of eight nations — the U.S., Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Russia.

The big picture: Russia currently holds the council's rotating chair, and in a joint statement Thursday the other seven members condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine and noted the "grave impediments to international cooperation, including in the Arctic, that Russia's actions have caused."

  • The members said Russia had flouted the council's principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, and as a result, they will not travel to Russia for any of the council's meetings.
  • In addition, they will temporarily pause their participation in all of the council's meetings.

Our thought bubble, from Axios' Andrew Freedman: The Arctic has long been a region of cooperation and collaboration to share knowledge and help manage the region's vast resources.

  • The organization has produced authoritative reports on climate change, for example, and studies the implications of increased access to the region as climate change continues to open up the region.
  • The Arctic has not traditionally been a region of competition and big power politics, but with Russia as the current chair, the U.S. and other countries clearly felt they needed to send a signal. These steps are unprecedented in the council's history.
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