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Eight Nations Sign Historic Arctic Coast Guard Agreement in New London, Conn.

Cassandra Basler

Leaders of the Coast Guards from the U.S., Russia, and the six other nations with territory in the Arctic have signed a historic deal at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.

Admiral Paul Zukunft, Commandant of the Coast Guard, is also head of a new partnership called the Arctic Coast Guard Forum. Zukunft said of all the eight nations that signed onto the partnership, Russia has the most icebreaker ships capable of maintaining safe waterways.

“Russia has the preponderance of resources when it comes to the Arctic domain," he said. "So it’s critical to have them at the table, if we’re going to have a joint statement that’s really going to have some meaning.”

Zukunft said the partnership helps nations pool resources for search-and-rescue efforts, and respond to pressing environmental concerns in the Arctic.

“As our delegation from Denmark said, it’s time to start talking and time to start walking," he said. "I’m really here to say we need to not walk, but we need to run, because of the changes that we are seeing in the high latitudes with climate change.”

Zukunft said ships are sailing farther north into icy waters.

The partnership was supposed to have been formed last year at a meeting in Canada. The Canadian government refused to invite Russia over that country’s conflict with Ukraine.

Cassandra Basler, a former senior editor at WSHU, came to the station by way of Columbia Journalism School in New York City. When she's not reporting on wealth and poverty, she's writing about food and family.