Trudeau in Iceland to meet Nordic leaders ahead of NATO

Vestmann Islands, Iceland –

Arctic security and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine became top concerns when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived in Iceland on Sunday for a two-day summit with Nordic leaders.

Prime Minister Trudeau, who is a guest at the annual meeting of the leaders of Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark, said that even before the 24-hour turmoil in Russia added more uncertainty, he said: Global security was already at the top of the agenda.

Prime Minister Trudeau said at the outset of bilateral talks with Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo that the complicated events in Russia over the past two days would form a large part of the discussion.

“The situation in Russia has become complicated over the last few days and we are now closely monitoring the situation in Russia,” he said.

Prime Minister Trudeau convened the government’s incident response group on Saturday and G7 foreign ministers also met on the phone as the world turned to news originating in Russia about an armed insurgency by the Wagner Group, a mercenary aiding the Russian military’s invasion of Ukraine. gone.

Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin led his troops through several Russian cities, reportedly calling it all off in an agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin after reaching within 200 kilometers of Moscow on Saturday. .

Exactly what Prigozhin intended with the march and how it will affect Putin’s seizure of power and the ongoing invasion of Ukraine in the long term remains unclear.

Immediately after arriving in Iceland, Prime Minister Trudeau called both Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and US President Joe Biden to discuss the Russian situation.

Zelensky said on Twitter that he hinted at Trudeau’s assessment of Ukraine He spoke about what he called a “failed coup” in Russia and what Ukraine thinks about its impact on Russia’s hostilities at home.

Russian aggression had already created new problems for Arctic security before this development.

Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway have all expressed support for Ukraine since Russia launched its offensive, and through the Arctic Council along with Canada and the United States after the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Suspension of cooperation with Russia.

Matthew Landriou, director of the Arctic Policy and Security Observatory, said the issue remained “vulnerable” and said that without cooperation with Russia, which has a vast Arctic coastline, the council would not be able to work out how climate change works. He added that he did not have data on It affects most of the region.

Landriou also suggested that Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is causing a “reassessment” of Canada’s position in the Arctic.

Roland Paris, a former senior adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and director of the University of Ottawa’s School of Public and International Affairs, said the exclusion of Russia from Arctic Council talks had turned into a serious problem for cooperation in the region.

Paris also added that NATO is increasing its interest in the Arctic in view of aggression from both Russia and China. The Nordic summit will be held in less than three weeks before NATO leaders travel to Lithuania to meet with allies and discuss the situation in Ukraine.

Sweden is the only Nordic country not to join the military alliance, but is seeking to join. Canada was the first country to ratify the request.

Prime Minister Trudeau told Olpo-Canada that he was very pleased that Finland joined NATO in April, noting that Canada was the first to support its application.

After meeting with the Prime Minister of Finland, Prime Minister Trudeau posed for a photo with Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir. Trudeau said he had a lot to discuss, including “world affairs.” Referring to the conference’s themes, Jakobsdottir said the Arctic was at the top of the list of topics for discussion, along with climate, biodiversity and ‘social resilience’.

Landrio said the meeting in Iceland would be an opportunity for Canada and the Nordic countries to show further support for Sweden’s NATO membership, which Turkey and Hungary do not recognize.

During a visit to a military base in northern Alberta last summer, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned of growing threats to Russia and China’s Arctic sovereignty, arguing that China has called itself “close to the Arctic.” state, citing climate change as expanding access to the Arctic. region.

Prime Minister Trudeau, who accompanied Stoltenberg on the visit, plans to spend billions of dollars on strengthening Canada’s military, including modernizing the aging Canada-US Norad system that monitors Arctic aerospace. advertised.

Paris said he hoped Trudeau could draw attention to similar pledges during his visit to Iceland.

“In fact, the Arctic is far behind what is needed to keep it safe in a geopolitically competitive world,” he said.

The conference will be held on the islands known as the Vestmann Islands and coincides with the 50th anniversary of a volcanic eruption on the islands.

Prime Minister Trudeau’s office said the summit would be an opportunity to advance common interests with the Nordic countries, from environmental protection and clean energy development to tackling security challenges.

In addition to common security interests, the Canadian government also has trade interests with the five Nordic countries, with two-way trade totaling about $13 billion last year.

Canada has the largest population of Icelandic immigrants and their descendants outside the country.

The two countries see each other as like-minded and share interests on a variety of issues, including the development of carbon capture and storage technologies and ocean protection.

Prime Minister Trudeau was received at Keflavik International Airport on Sunday by the Icelandic Ambassador to Canada Hrynul Gupines Johnson and Canada’s representative to Iceland and the country’s chief protocol officer Janet Menzies.

Prime Minister Trudeau’s visit follows Icelandic President Gudni Johannesson’s recent visit to Canada, where the two discussed expanding cooperation in green energy, marine technology and aquaculture.

Landriou said that visit, Governor Mary Simon’s visit to Finland earlier this year, and the 2022 Canada-Denmark agreement to settle the border dispute over Hans Island all contributed to Canada’s diplomatic focus on the Nordic countries. He said it was a sign that he was trying to strengthen.

“Probably will increase,” he said.

This report by the Canadian Press Agency was first published on June 25, 2023.

— With files from Associated Press.

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