Pompeo, Russia's Lavrov to hold talks in Sochi on May 14: RIA

Climate change is radically altering the Arctic's position as a strategic area and shipping hub

Climate change is radically altering the Arctic's position as a strategic area and shipping hub Credit Sergei Malgavko\\TASS via Getty Images

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not officially comment on Pompeo's remarks about alleged election meddling - an article of faith in Washington, underpinning the "Russiagate" conspiracy theory since 2016 - but an unnamed diplomatic source told the TASS news agency that the topic was not raised in the meeting, and that "the Russian side was surprised by such a statement" by the top United States diplomat.

The different perspectives on climate change as a serious issue has never been starker. "China claiming otherwise entitles them to exactly nothing".

"We're concerned about Russia's claim over the global waters of the Northern Sea Route, including its newly announced plans to connect it with China's Maritime Silk Road", he said.

"Just because the Arctic is a place of wilderness does not mean it should become a place of lawlessness", Pompeo said.

Pompeo's comments came at the same time he sought to recast the U.S.as a team player in circumpolar affairs despite weeks of lambasting by a procession of Arctic officials for the country's stonewalling on climate language in the Arctic Council's upcoming Rovaniemi Declaration.

"China's pattern of aggressive behaviour elsewhere will inform how it treats the Arctic", he said.

Pompeo emphasized that China isn't an Arctic state and that its observer status is contingent upon its respect for the sovereignty of the permanent member nations.

Military and security issues have been explicitly excluded from the Arctic Council since its founding, but Pompeo, after discussing China, also singled out Russian Federation in his speech, citing the Ukraine crisis and Russia's reopening of military bases in the North, as activity increases along the Northern Sea Route.

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Despite Pompeo's warnings and defense of USA positions, many council members and observers are equally alarmed by the Trump administration's environmental policies and skepticism of climate change.

"The business of the Arctic Council is cooperation, environmental protection, friendly consultation and the sharing and exchange of views". One-third of Finland sits above the Arctic Circle. It may impact the inter-state relations and security in our region. Finland has spent its two-year chairmanship of the council focused on addressing climate change effects. "The Arctic countries have a special responsibility - and a possibility - to preserve the Arctic as a region of peace and stability", Soini said.

Pompeo's speech, which ran to 2,400 words, failed to mention "climate change".

With the steady reductions in sea ice in the polar region, new naval passageways and trade opportunities are seen to be opening up.

"Arctic sea lanes could become the 21st century Suez and Panama Canals", Pompeo remarked.

The Arctic houses 13 percent of the world's undiscovered oil, 30 percent of its undiscovered gas, and an abundance of resources, including uranium, rare earth minerals, and millions of square miles of untapped fisheries. The Trump administration has been focusing on the threats to national security.

This article was written by Matthew Lee from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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