Justin Trudeau and Jens Stoltenberg near a Canadian Forces CC-130 Hercules transport aircraft after arriving in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Canada, August 25, 2022 Stoltenberg: Russia is a strategic challenge for NATO in the ArcticPossible Russian actions in the Arctic are a strategic challenge for NATO, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday, welcoming Canada's recently announced investment in North America's defense system. NATO Secretary General visits Canada's Arctic region for the first time.
“The High North is growing in importance for NATO and Canada as we see a significant Russian military buildup,” Stoltenberg said, standing next to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Cold -Lake, Alberta.
Russia has reopened hundreds of Soviet-era military installations in the Arctic, Stoltenberg said, using the region to test new weapons systems. He also warned that Russia and China are forming a strategic Arctic partnership that challenges NATO's values and interests.
Canada has been criticized for spending too little on its defense as a member of NATO. But after Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February, Canada said in June it would invest 4.9 billion Canadian dollars ($3.8 billion) over the next six years to modernize the North American Joint Air Defense System (NORAD).
“The geopolitical landscape has changed in recent months, so understanding that Russia is a growing concern for all of us, it’s time to share with the Secretary General and with NATO all the things Canada is doing through NORAD,” Trudeau said.
On Thursday, Trudeau and Stoltenberg visited Cambridge Bay in Nunavut, a village in the Arctic Circle that houses an air defense radar post. It is part of the NORAD warning system, which experts say is in dire need of an update.
This system, developed over 60 years ago, detects threats to the security of North America, and the early warning radar for the polar region was created in late 1980s.
Both Trudeau and Stoltenberg agreed that climate change is making the Arctic more accessible to economic and military activity, increasing security concerns.
Cambridge Bay – one of the main stops for ships crossing the Northwest Passage of the Arctic Ocean between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The United States has disputed Canada's sovereignty over the passage for decades, claiming it is an international waterway.
Responding to a question about the passage's sovereignty on Friday, Trudeau said: “The Northwest Passage is Canadian waters. Dot”.