Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg on Friday has released a statement while welcoming Canada’s recently announced investments in North American defence systems after making his first visit to the Canadian arctic. Stoltenberg said that, “Russia’s capabilities in the North are a strategic challenge for NATO.”
Standing alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Cold Lake, Alberta, Stoltenberg said that, “The significance of the high North is increasing for NATO and for Canada as we see an important Russian military buildup.”
Meanwhile, Moscow has reopened hundreds of Soviet-era army sites in the Arctic, using the region to test new weapons systems, Stoltenberg added. He also alerted that Russia and China were forming a strategic arctic partnership that has challenged NATO’s values and interests.
Canada has been facing criticism for spending too little on its army capabilities as a NATO member. But following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, Canada in June has added that it would invest C$4.9 billion ($3.8 billion) over the next six years to modernize NORAD, the joint US-Canadian North American defence organization.
Trudeau said that, “The geopolitical situation has shifted over past months, which is why understanding that Russia is an increasing concern to all of us makes it timely for us to share with the Secretary-General and with NATO all the things that Canada is doing via NORAD.”
Trudeau and Stoltenberg have further visited Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, on Thursday, a hamlet above the Arctic Circle where a radar outpost for air defence is located. It is part of NORAD’s North Warning System, which experts say is in dire need of upgrades.