Premier Akeeagok addresses Arctic security amid Russian aggression

GN will commit $25,000 to Ukraine, and Akeeagok says Russia threatens Arctic stability

Premier P.J. Akeeagok says Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatens the stability of relations in the Arctic. (File photo by David Venn)

By David Lochead

Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok began his first statement of the legislature’s winter sitting by addressing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its potential implications to the Arctic.

“Nunavut stands with the people of Ukraine and Ukrainians around the world,” Akeeagok said Monday afternoon.

In showing that support, he announced the territorial government will commit $25,000 of humanitarian aid to the Red Cross to assist Ukraine.

Beyond donations, the premier has been active in voicing his concern for Arctic security as Russia, an Arctic neighbour, becomes more hostile on the global stage.

Akeeagok said that Russia threatens “the stability of Arctic communities and the continuity of Arctic co-operation.”

On Feb. 24, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, with several of its cities being bombed, including the capital, Kyiv. Ukrainian civilians are struggling to evacuate the country because of constant shelling from the Russian military.

But Russia’s presence is in Nunavut itself, as Nordgold S.E. is a Russian-owned gold mining company that is doing exploration work near Whale Cove.

While the federal government has imposed economic sanctions on Russia and Russian businesses, Akeeagok told Nunatsiaq News the territory will not be making an immediate response to Nordgold’s operation in Nunavut, but that “nothing’s off the table.”

Akeeagok is also one of the three territorial premiers who signed a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, asking for a discussion on Canada’s Arctic security and sovereignty in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

He said that while there is no specific agenda, the three premiers want a direct conversation to discuss mechanisms for defending the Arctic coastline.

“I know our senior officials have been working around the clock really on this particular point, and we’ll just continue to have the conversation until the meeting is scheduled,” Akeeagok said.

One of the concerns voiced in the letter, which was obtained by Nunatsiaq News, is Russia’s growing economic and military presence in its northern regions.

“As Russia’s global investments and interests grow, we fear that Russia’s aggression will inevitably present itself into Arctic affairs,” the letter stated.

In 2020, Russia put through legislation that encouraged the increase of oil and gas infrastructure in its north, with climate change allowing an increase in the number of shipping routes through the Arctic. Then, just over a year later, Russia increased its military might in the Arctic by adding soldiers and a missile-launching system in Franz Joseph Land, a previously uninhabited Arctic island in Russia.

But in terms of immediate problems, Akeeagok said, both in his statement on Monday and in the territorial premiers’ letter, that Russia’s aggression will compromise the Arctic Council, an international body for discussing Arctic affairs. Russia is nearly halfway through a two-year term as the Arctic Council chair, a term that runs until May 2023.

Last week, Canada and six other Arctic nations announced they plan to pause all Arctic Council meetings as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In response to what Canada is doing to defend its Arctic sovereignty, Government of Canada’s Department of National Defence spokesperson Daniel Lebouthillier said the department is working on several northern initiatives. Those initiatives include expanding the Canadian Rangers, buying more Arctic vehicles and improving satellite surveillance of the North.

– with files by Mélanie Ritchot

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(29) Comments:

  1. Posted by Virtue Signals on

    $25,000 is what percentage of the GN’s annual budget? 0.000013? What is the point of even announcing this.

    • Posted by Never satisfied on

      Donate nothing, ppl will complain.. donate too much, ppl will complain… ppl will always find something

    • Posted by 867 on

      A literal “Penny for your thoughts”.

  2. Posted by Eskimo caver on

    Will not help even a single person, and no matter how WOKE you are, you will LOSE if facing the Russian bear. Stupid politicians. Russia will remember your choice at the Arctic Council and at ICC. Why do stupid people lead here and in Ottawa?

  3. Posted by Inooya on

    $25,000 What a joke

    • Posted by Frontiers on

      Token help…

    • Posted by Crystal Clarity on

      Nunavut is a very small territory with limited resources. I don’t think it’s a joke at all. It shows that Nunavummiut care and are aware of the plight of Ukranians. Helping to some degree with the humanitarian effort is something we can do. We don’t have millions to donate unfortunately.

      • Posted by Bert on

        Nunavut and NWT can show their support of Ukraine by putting a stop to the Russian expedition through the territories . It is disgusting that they are welcoming Russians whilst Russia is invading another country and killing women and children. Yet the politicians at all levels, and the press, is quiet. Disgusting.

  4. Posted by Name withheld on

    Nordgold mining company bought Northquest . Which was mining in Whale Cove, Nunavut

    Tried to post a comment on another story about it yesterday but I guess Nunatsiaq didn’t like me posting it as I never seen it.

    Russians will do everything to claim what is in Nunavut and they will not stop.

    • Posted by DV for similar on

      I got downvoted for saying similar about previous Russian antics.

      I may have also suggested the communities of Nunavut exist because of the military DEW line sites and Russia being a bully. But that’s just plain facts. Grise Fiord Inuit were forcibly moved there in order for Canada to project sovereignty over the area so that the USSR or another country (but let’s be honest, Russia) couldn’t claim it.

      So now they go about it “legally.”

      • Posted by Not exactly on

        No, you got down voted because you so ignorantly dismissed the connection between Putin’s assertion of force in Ukraine and the encroachment of the Western military alliance (NATO) onto his doorstep. Oh yea and something about minerals or whatever…?

        On the other hand, you do have a point about the settlement of our most Northern communities, but not all our communities.

  5. Posted by Just stop, please on

    Don’t worry, PJ, the odds of Russia invading our coastline are about as close to zero as you can get, and probably even less than that.

    But if you are still bothered, don’t be, Canada has plans to “expand the Rangers” !

    I honestly can’t think of a more serious deterrent. Vladimir won’t even consider it now.

  6. Posted by Beleaver on

    Clyde River could really use that $25k to buy diesel that GN did not deliver during sealift. If GN really supports Ukraine, GN will cancel gold mine that Russia owns. Stop Russia earning currency by stopping their gold mining business.

    • Posted by Northern Guy on

      Clyde River has the fuel they just forgot to mix in the additive that would let it run in their vehicles, their fault NOT the GNs.

  7. Posted by Spastic Plastic Putin on

    Just a note to some of the commenters here and including the officials in the premier’s office who have been “working around the clock” in an apparent panic about Russia, you are personally more likely to get struck by lightning in January than you are to see Russian troops invading our Arctic Coastline.

    Canada and the United States are bound by treaties (Ogdensburg Agreement), joint military alliance (NORAD), US Foreign Policy Doctrine (Monroe Doctrine) our shared history and deep mutual interest in the “protection of the northern half of the Western Hemisphere” (William Lyon Mackenzie King, 1940). They may as well try landing in New York.

    Also, if you have been following the performance of the Russian forces in Ukraine, you may have noticed how poorly Russian equipment has held up against supply line issues and serious maintenance problems (look into the unsurprising corruption and kleptocracy issues the feed of Russia’s huge military budget).

    North American air power alone would reduce Russian forces to a pile of metal scrap before lunch…

    • Posted by Hook and line on

      Sinker next. With the billions spent on war by the NATO, strings at the big media corps are pulled. People have lost their sanity over the Russian speel. Veterans tell us war is hell but few are listening. NATO, as fervently as it is being portrayed by the bought media is not the Good. Quite the contrary they are the instigators of the conflict in that region. The country was until 2014 neutral, NATO would not accept that and backed a military coup to get their wish of an alignment with the West.

  8. Posted by Frontiers on

    Arctic Council should not suspend the regular meetings. On the contrary, the body must convene for special meeting to deescalate the explosive situation.

  9. Posted by Take care of Nunavut on

    Look after us Inuit and start answering questions you could not answer Hickes and Savikataqk . Please help us

    • Posted by Ian on

      Starts already PJ remember what these 2 did to paul,their treachery knows no limit,good luck

    • Posted by 867 on

      Relax. Don’t get caught up by the hyperbole. Do the math, they donated $25k; thats barely enough to buy an ace 900 snowmachine.

  10. Posted by 867 on

    On the other hand, $25,000 is $1000 more than the fine given to the Russian plane in Yellowknife

  11. Posted by Simon Says on

    Leaders need to take it upon themselves to be well informed. The ongoing propaganda war over the eastern Europe conflict is apparent to anyone and everyone with critical thinking skills. To balance out things some more Russel Brand, an off the wall entertaining source for info is a step in that direction.

    • Posted by Critical what? on

      There are a definitely lot of interesting and ‘well informed’ commentators out there, and yes, there is also Russell Brand

  12. Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

    Mr. Premier. The name of the game is to take action where it will hurt Putin and his oligarchs – in the pocketbook.

    $25k to the Red Cross will not do it.

    If you have the authority close down this operation.

    Russia’s presence is in Nunavut itself, as Nordgold S.E. is a Russian-owned gold mining company that is doing exploration work near Whale Cove.

    If you don’t have the authority, petition, no demand, that JT and his cohorts do so.

  13. Posted by Joni on

    Perhaps the territories can assist by preventing the Russian expedition that was in the news a few days ago when they violated air space rules. Landed in Yellowknife and now on their way across the territories. Perhaps Nunatsiaq News should report on that expedition.

    • Posted by Stephen on

      Hipocritical politicians. Still letting the Russian expedition travel to resolute. Russians are joy riding in Nunavut whilst joy riding in Ukraine. Grow some ethics!!! Why is the press quiet on this?

    • Posted by Angry Inuk on

      Lol… whilst the world welcomes Ukraine refugees, Nunavut welcomes Russians.

  14. Posted by QIA leader on

    What a joke is the premier of QIA going to send the rangers to protect our land hire his relative to negotiate a peace deal

Comments are closed.