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    Is Canada Undermining Arctic Cooperation to Spite Russia?

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    The agreement on tackling oil pollution in the Arctic will reportedly not be signed at the upcoming Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting since Canada, displeased with Russia, is apparently willing to give up what Ottawa named one of its priorities during its chairmanship of the intergovernmental forum purely out of spite.

    The ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council is slated to be held in the Canadian city of Iqaluit located in Nunavut on April 24-25. The eight permanent members of the forum include Russia, the United States, Canada, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. The meeting in April will mark the end of Canada's chairmanship.

    Several projects aimed at protecting circumpolar biodiversity and the marine environment, enhancing emergency preparedness and response, as well as tackling oil pollution were approved for the ministerial meeting.

    The foreign ministers of the member states were supposed to sign an agreement on preventing oil spills in Iqaluit. However, the non-binding document will not be signed, according to Russia's Izvestiya newspaper, citing those familiar with the issue. "All the meeting participants, except one country, are interested in signing the document," an unnamed source told the daily.

    Some say, "Canada refused to sign the document together with Russia but no one ever adopted such a stance officially," Ksenia Yartseva of the Arctic Council told Izvestiya. Decisions in the forum are made on the basis of consensus.

    Canada's special forces soldiers
    © AFP 2019 / Luis Acosta
    Since the agreement is non-binding, Canada's stance on the issue could be explained by Ottawa's desire to show its negative attitude to Russia by any means possible, according to the newspaper.

    On February 18, Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced new economic sanctions and travel bans against 37 Russian and Ukrainian individuals as well as economic sanctions against 17 Russian and Ukrainian entities over their alleged role in the escalation of the situation in Ukraine.

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    Tags:
    oil pollution, oil spill, environment, Arctic Council, Canada, Russia
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