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The Coast Guard's role in the Arctic mired by Ukraine war

Courtesy of Peter Cox

As the war in Ukraine nears its one-year mark, the Coast Guard is concerned about their ability to do research in the Arctic region.

Anthony Russell, the executive director of the Center for Arctic Study and Policy based at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, said the Guard’s presence in the Arctic is likely to increase, especially as Russia remains chair of the international Arctic Council until the end of this year.

“The Arctic Council, and The Arctic Coast Guard Forum, which are two of the main forums through which we pursue, kind of, a peaceful and prosperous Arctic, are a little bit frozen because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” Russell said. “For the first time those bodies, because Russia is one of the eight Arctic nations, have been limited in their ability to kind of pursue their research and policy development agendas in a consensus fashion.”

The Arctic Council was established in 1996 when the eight Arctic nations signed the Ottawa Declaration. The declaration was meant to guide the region towards peace, stability and constructive cooperation.

Tensions in the region have increased over the years with other nations looking to stake their claim on the Arctic and the rare minerals, oil and natural gas buried beneath the ice.

“So, we have to figure out how we can kind of continue to build the partnerships, to do the exercises, to pursue smart regulations, to stay ahead of the changes, to manage those changes so they’re not harmful, when we don’t necessarily have all the players at the table to do that,” Russell said.

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.