“Russia has shown itself to be ready to use military force to secure political advantage and the disputed operation of a number of international legal norms in the Arctic is vulnerable to exploitation by a revisionist state… The leadership which the UK has previously shown in the defense of the region should be reinstated,” the committee’s report, dubbed On Thin Ice: UK Defence in the Arctic, read.
According to the report, a number of countries, including Russia, are showing their interest in the area because its resources are gradually becoming more exposed as the ice rapidly melts due to changes in the environment.
The committee is concerned over Russia’s growing military activity in the area, which includes “a tenfold increase in Russian submarine activity in the North Atlantic,” high tempo of training events and military drills, Russia’s first new military icebreaker in 40 years joining the Northern Fleet, and “re-activation or new establishment of permanent bases in the Arctic.”
The committee called on the UK government to “show leadership” in providing resources and demonstrating ambition in order to tackle the situation.
“The UK has previously played a leading role in defending NATO’s Northern Flank and in maintaining maritime security in the North Atlantic. The importance of this role is now returning to significance… A new level of ambition backed up by adequate resources is required to meet the developing threats we have identified,” the committee’s Chair Madeleine Moon was quoted as saying on the UK Parliament’s website.
Concerns over Russia’s military expansion in the region were previously voiced in the committee’s 2016 report, dubbed “Russia: Implications for UK defense and security.”
The Arctic region, located in the northernmost part of the Earth, consists of the Arctic Ocean and its adjacent seas, as well as parts of the territories belonging to a number of states. The Arctic policy is coordinated by the Arctic Council, which unites eight Arctic nations, and also by the United Nations and NATO.