US warns China, Russia against aggression in Arctic region



ROVANIEMI, Finland — The Trump administration warned China and Russia on Monday that the U.S. won’t stand for aggressive moves in the Arctic region, which is rapidly opening up to development and commerce as temperatures warm and sea ice melts.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a speech in Finland that the U.S. will compete for influence in the Arctic and counter attempts to make it the strategic preserve of any one or two nations. He said the rule of law must prevail for the Arctic to remain peaceful, and he criticized China and Russia for what he said were coercive practices that would destabilize the “high North” if allowed.

Critics were likely to seize on the speech for being short on scientific specifics, not using the phrase “climate change,” offering no ideas on mitigating its effects and focusing almost entirely on how to responsibly tap the Arctic in an era of fierce global rivalries.

“The region has become an arena of global power and competition and the eight Arctic states must adapt to this new future,” Pompeo said, one day before he participates in a meeting of foreign ministers from the Arctic Council .

He said that group had once been able to focus solely on scientific, environmental and cultural issues, but profound changes in the Arctic’s environment and strategic rivalries made that extremely difficult now.

“We’re entering a new age of strategic engagement in the Arctic, complete with new threats to Arctic interests and its real estate,” Pompeo said.

For the U.S., he said that means boosting America’s security and diplomatic presence with new military exercises, icebreakers and expanded Coast Guard operations.