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China-Russia relations strengthening raises risks for the Arctic

China-Russia relations strengthening raises risks for the Arctic Admiral Rob Bauer, who heads the NATO Military Committee (photo:

NATO is increasingly concerned about Chinese maritime activity along the Russian Northern Sea Route and the possibility that its commercial and scientific interests could foreshadow Chinese military presence in the Arctic, states Admiral Rob Bauer, who heads NATO's Military Committee.

"We know that there are military scientists on board these ships. They have not stated that they will not use these vessels for military purposes," he stated.

According to him, NATO is concerned about China's objectives given its increasingly close ties with Russia, including cooperation in energy and transportation, which has led to a significant increase in Russian oil shipments to China through Arctic waters.

Bauer's remarks followed his speech at the Arctic Circle Assembly conference in Reykjavik, during which he expressed concerns about the strengthening of ties between Russia and China. While Russia's intentions in the Arctic are becoming increasingly clear, "China's intentions for this region remain opaque," he said.

As a first step toward regular small container shipping along the Northern Sea Route, a Chinese cargo ship completed a three-month circular journey from the Baltic Sea to China. The transformation of Russia's commercial relationships following its invasion of Ukraine has led to increased oil deliveries to China.

"We cannot be naive and expect that these new routes will be used only by commercial vessels," Bauer stated.

Putin's visit to Beijing

The Russian leader visited China on October 18. He held talks with the Chinese leader on the sidelines of the forum. Xi Jinping stated that political mutual trust between the two countries continues to deepen, and bilateral trade has reached a record level.

The President of China also presented his "One Belt, One Road" initiative as a radical alternative to the world order led by the United States. The President of Russia expressed support for this statement.