20:27 GMT +321 January 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom has criticized the United States' approach to the Arctic, describing it as "sad and dangerous", and noted that Washington's conduct could undermine the long-standing collaboration with Russia and China in the region.

    "That has never been the theme or the task for the Arctic Council to discuss security policy. It is a non-military and sort of peaceful council where other issues are being discussed. They want to turn it into something else", Wallstrom told the Financial Times.

    The foreign minister expressed concern over the lack of US support in issues related to climate change.

    "We all understand that we are in this together and this is something that will affect us enormously over the years to come. We have only seen the start of that. This is sad and dangerous", the minister added.

    Wallstrom also condemned the lack of US interest in the Arctic compared to Russia and China, which had been building up their commercial and military interests for a long time.

    Russia has recently been stepping up its military, trade and exploration activities in the Arctic by building transport and energy infrastructure and developing the Northern Sea Route as part of the Arctic’s Northern Passage, which links Europe and Asia.

    However, Moscow’s activities have been criticized by some countries, including the United States. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in his turn, said Moscow did not threaten anyone, noting that it only acted to ensure sufficient capabilities for defence.

    In May, the Arctic Council ministerial meeting ended with no declaration for the first time due to the United States' opposition to the wording of the provision on fighting climate change. Instead of a declaration, the meeting resulted in a joint ministerial statement that did not explicitly mention climate change. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo then accused Russia of acting aggressively in the region and boosting military buildup, with warnings of similar conduct from China.

    The Arctic Council is an intergovernmental cooperation forum that brings together eight Arctic states — Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States. It convenes every six months at the level of senior Arctic officials and also holds biennial ministerial meetings.


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