Contrary to previous ceremonies, the handover of the Arctic Council presidency to Norway was held online, with high-level representatives rather than foreign ministers.
The attitude of the Western countries towards Russia due to the Ukraine War interrupted the cooperation of 8 countries under the roof of the Arctic Council.
The Council has experienced the biggest existential crisis since its establishment in 1996, during the two years that Russia held the term presidency.
Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the United States suspended their participation in the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental body on environmental protection, in March 2022 in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
For this reason, Western member states did not send representatives to the meetings planned to be hosted by Russia.
Due to the attitudes of the parties towards the Ukraine crisis, a number of studies, such as climate change and the mapping of polar bears, in which Russia was included under the umbrella of the Arctic Council, were put on hold, while Russia blocked access to its facilities, which are data sources for researchers.
The Arctic Council is one of the few international platforms where Russia sits at the same table with Western states.
It is stated that the crisis caused by the Russia-Western tension in the organization may affect the steps to be taken in the areas of melting of the glaciers, the use of mineral resources in the Arctic region, and the determination of new sea route routes.
Professor at Arctic University in Norway. Rasmus Gjedsso stated that the tension within the organization poses a great challenge for Norway, “(Member states) have to isolate Russia and at the same time make sure that they do not provoke Russia to disband the organization.” said.
Polar security policy expert Dwayne Ryan Menezes stated that passing the term presidency to Norway will not eliminate the crisis experienced by the forum, but may encourage close cooperation among the majority of member states.