The Arctic is of great importance for NATO, and the Western alliance must give priority to its military presence in the polar region, NATO's chief Jens Stoltenberg said in a Sunday interview with the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag. The interview comes when Washington is set to appoint its first Arctic ambassador and Russia's increasing military activity in the Arctic..
Stoltenberg said that Russia has recently intensified its activities in the resource-rich area by reopening Soviet-era bases and stationing and testing new state-of-the-art weapons there, such as hypersonic missiles.
China, too, is increasingly interested in the Arctic, NATO chief added, noting how the region is becoming increasingly important for shipping due to climate change.
China, which describes itself as a near-Arctic state, plans to create a so-called Polar Silk Road, benefiting from the receding ice caps.
The proposal would include building the world's largest icebreaker fleet, allowing new shipping routes for the mineral resources its industrial economy needs.
The Welt am Sonntag interview was not the first time Stoltenberg has spoken out about the Arctic. In an interview wirh German media the NATO chief warned that climate change could heat up geopolitics in the polar region.
On Friday, the United States said it would appoint a special ambassador-at-large for the Arctic region for the first time. The plan, which still needs Senate approval, is aimed at promoting American interests and cooperation with Allies and partners in the Arctic, a statement from the US State Department said.
The polar region includes territories belonging to Russia, US, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.