Russian invasion of Ukraine creates strain for Arctic organizations

Russia is member of Inuit Circumpolar Council and Arctic Council

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks at a May 2021 news conference after Russia took the chairmanship for the Arctic Council. (Screenshot from Arctic Council)

By David Lochead

Some Arctic organizations are distancing themselves from Russia after the country’s sudden invasion of Ukraine late last week.

“We are monitoring the situation on a day-to-day basis,” Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada president Monica Ell-Kanayuk said. The Inuit Circumpolar Council represents approximately 180,000 Inuit across four regions, including Chukotka, in Russia.

On Feb. 24, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, bombing several cities, including the capital, Kyiv. The invasion has spurred loud rebuke from across the globe, including from Canada, which has imposed economic sanctions, provided Ukraine military equipment and closed its airspace to Russia.

Russia is the current chair of the Arctic Council, of which the Inuit Circumpolar Council is a member. The Arctic Council is one of the most significant international bodies for discussing issues that affect the North, such as climate change.

At the moment, members of ICC Canada are planning not to travel to Arkhangelsk, Russia, at the end of May for Arctic Council meetings, said Ell-Kanayuk.

But she added ICC Canada has kept in contact with ICC Chukotka and the two members are committed to continuing to work peacefully and co-operatively.

Arctic360, an organization focused on bringing sustainable investment to the North, also cut ties with Russia in response to the invasion. Former Iqaluit mayor Madeleine Redfern is the executive director of Arctic360’s northern branch.

The organization has excluded Russia from its annual conference, scheduled from March 9 to 11 in Toronto.

Russia was scheduled to make a presentation on its role as Arctic Council chair at the conference, according to a news release from Arctic360.

“It was clear, the business-as-usual stance between Arctic states and by extension at the Arctic Council has dramatically changed,” the release states.

“All that is known now is that the Arctic Council will not, in the immediate future, look like the past 25 years.”

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(18) Comments:

  1. Posted by Pseudonym here on

    A deafening silence! Good people the world over are working to bring us back to our senses from the mutually assured destruction of a Nuclear War, atomic bombs and such and the best we can do is this.

  2. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    Slava Ukraini – Glory to Ukraine ??

  3. Posted by iWonder on

    I would like to ask a question to those who have been posting memes about standing with Ukraine ?? !!! I get your sense of sympathy and even helplessness, but do you not see how shallow and performative this appears? Do you feel even the slightest pang of embarrassment at making this about yourself?

    • Posted by John K on

      Of course not. What can a regular person do besides showing solidarity?

      I hope you aren’t suggesting we put boots on the ground and willingly start a nuclear war.

      • Posted by iWonder on

        Here is where I am coming from, John. This morning I opened Twitter and saw scenes of an apartment building that had been partially bombed out, I can’t recall the name of the city, it may have been Kharkiv. Beneath it were posts telling the person who recorded this (I believe they lived there) that “we stand with you” … I suppose that is a show of solidarity, as you say. I couldn’t help but think how void of content these murmurings actually were. If it was your home and you read that, what would you think?

        What does it mean to say you stand with someone, when you literally don’t do anything but type a few words onto a screen and walk away?

        I’m not saying we should put boots on the ground, or that you should volunteer to help… but I do think it is worth thinking about the meaning of what we are saying and why we are saying it.

        Maybe it is as you say, ‘solidarity’ … sure, that’s awesome, John.

    • Posted by The Old Trapper on

      Individually we must each stand up for what is right, and when we see gross violations of international law and agreements each of us must speak out.
      Eighty years ago my father answered the call and enlisted in the RCAF, was deployed to England, and served as a navigator/bombardier flying night missions into the heart of Germany to help end one of the greatest evils of all time.
      What Putin is doing in Ukraine is no less atrocious.
      I can do little myself but to urge our government to do more, and to let the Ukrainian people know that we stand with them.

      • Posted by iWonder on

        I agree with what you are saying, at the same time I don’t think you and I are describing the exact same kinds of things.

      • Posted by The power of MSM does wonders on

        First off, I salute your father to be a part of the freedom we all enjoy here in Canada today. Ukrainians are receiving massive support in more than one way including others standing up when, as you state gross violations of international laws and agreements, are taking place. I do not see that same passion of people speaking out when Israel has been commiting atrocities for decades against Palestinians, when Chinese are killing Uyghurs, when USA has been commiting killings in the Middle East region for years, when Serbs commited genocide in Bosnia in the 90’s. Atrocities are atrocities wherever they are happening in the world and regardless who the victims are, I just wish we condemn all atrocities equally and not just select ones. Sadly, that will never happen. It all depends who the aggressor/ victims are.

  4. Posted by Russia Wants Arctic Minerals on

    Remember the 2019 article where Russia tried to push its maritime borders right up against Canadian territorial waters. Really speaks volumes about how truly scared they are of NATO nations. *rolls eyes.*

    Remember folks, these communities in Nunavut exist BECAUSE Russia is a bully.

    • Posted by Venti on

      Russia is afraid of NATO (which is to say, the West), that’s a good part of why they are attacking Ukraine.

      • Posted by Doesn’t check out. on

        Please explain how scared Russia is of NATO when they’re literally bordered by NATO countries. And like I mentioned above, if they’re so scared of NATO why did they try to push their territory RIGHT UP TO Canadian AKA NATO territory.

        • Posted by IR Realist on

          The issue in Ukraine needs to be understood in the context of a longer story about Russian Imperialism and what Russia today perceives to be its rightful sphere of influence, (let’s say its neighborhood). All ‘great powers’ have these, for the United States it is the America’s and that includes Canada.

          For Russia, or at least for its ruling class, Ukraine is clearly understood to be within its cultural, historic and economic orbit. Or, put differently, for Putin Ukraine is seen as part of a larger Russian civilization.

          By contrast, since declaring independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, many Ukrainians have cast their gaze to the west, seeing their future as European, not Russian. Membership in the EU and NATO formalize these aspirations economically, culturally, and militarily.

          At present Ukraine is not part of NATO (or the EU) and prior to this invasion it appeared unlikely to join any time soon, despite all the cage rattling.

          Okay, so what is the issue?

          At present Ukraine is the 4th largest recipient of US military funding. Some might see this as part of a larger western plan, likely to include NATO membership at some point, to draw Ukraine out of Russian orbit toward the west. For Russia the idea of a vibrant, westernized state firmly in the economic and cultural grip of Europe while buttressed by Western military power, all on its doorstep—and within its traditional ‘realm’—is completely unacceptable. This, not strictly NATO, is what the Russian ruling class is afraid of.

          For a more in-depth reading:

          Also; the border issue with Canada you’ve brought up has to has to do with claims to a huge area of seabed around the pole. These appear to be unsettled so there is no land-grab within any sovereign space taking place. So far Russia is playing by the rules and allowing the issue to be decided by the appropriate UN Commission (let’s see if that holds up).

          • Posted by IR Realist on

            A couple follow points to this. If you are interested in the recent history of Ukraine, especially as it relates to its pivot toward Europe look up the Orange Revolution (2004-05)

            Also, the Maidan Revolution of 2014, which is presented in the Evgeny Afineevsky film ‘Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom’ (on Netflix) as well as Sergei Loznitsa’s documentary Maidan (Ukrainian: Майдан).

          • Posted by IR Realist * revised on

            Dear ‘Russia Wants Arctic Minerals’ are you reading all this? I wrote it just for you. Where did you go?

            I need to add some clarity to what I said above, because I don’t think I worded it as well as I could have.

            The issue isn’t mainly that the US is funding the Ukraine militarily to pivot west, though that matters here… it is that a large and influential class of Ukrainians themselves are trying to escape Russia’s orbit, and that that class is being encouraged, even funded by the west. NATO membership is an integral part of that puzzle. There’s nothing necessarily “wrong” with this picture, but it comes with huge risks which many in the US foreign policy establishment have been warning about since the end of the cold war.

            Imagine China setting up a military base or bringing Mexico or Canada into a Chinese based defensive alliance, on the American border? You would have a completely intolerable arrangement from the US perspective (think the Cuban Missile Crisis). This is part of how Russia sees the current moment.

            There is a lot more that could be said here… I’ll save it for another time.

    • Posted by Mark Seidenberg on

      What waters of Canada? It was in September 1837 that the Hudson Bay Company at Point Barrow, took formal possession of what is the Northern Coast of Alaska in the name of the British. In 1850 the Plover Group was annexed in the name of Queen Victoria.

  5. Posted by paul fuhs on

    In the Arctic, we are still going to have to work together on our common issues. Its a mistake to cancel our important people to people programs. This is a battle of leaders, not a war between the people of the Arctic. Besides, do you think canceling a report on the Arctic Council is going to change anything? No. It is just posturing.

  6. Posted by Mercouris on

    A noteworthy person Alexander Mercouris, a quick search will find his articles/videos is worth a look up on the unfolding situation.

    • Posted by Putin’s Mouthpiece on

      Alexander Mercouris works for Russian propaganda outlets RT news and Sputnik… I encourage everyone to look him up, you will find nothing credible about him.

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