Stephen Harper’s “Napoleonic plans” in Arctic challenged by Russian writer

Andy Radia
Canada Politics

A columnist in Russia is taking exception to Stephen Harper's stance on the Arctic, which asserts Canadian sovereignty over the northern tundra.

An editorial on the website pravada.ru contends Harper's "Napoleonic plans" are focused on forcing Russia out of the Arctic region.

"As soon as he arrived in the Arctic, Harper began to observe the (military) exercises attended by land, naval and air forces," wrote Vadim Trukhachev in regards to Harper's visit to the north last week.

"It is pretty clear who Canada intends to defend itself from. The U.S., Denmark and Norway have access to the Arctic, and they are NATO allies. Only Russia remains."

Since becoming prime minister Stephen Harper has made annual trips to the Arctic claiming it as a "vital party of our national identity, sovereignty and economic security."

During his most recent visit, Harper observed the country's largest modern-day Arctic military exercise in an apparent show of force to the international community.

Other countries, including Russia, have also staked claims to large parts of the mineral and oil-rich Arctic.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has even vowed to "strongly and persistently" defend its interests.

Despite Putin's strong talk, Trukhachev lashes out at Canada. He cites articles in the Toronto Sun and The Globe and Mail which he says reek of wartime chatter.

"The local media urges Harper to strengthen Canada's military power in the northern latitudes," he wrote.

"In its publication back in July, (the) Toronto Sun scared its readers with the Russian threat. The paper stated that the Russians were coming, and were planning to use force. The paper added that Canada was not going to let them do it."

The writer adds Canada is trying to become a leader in the Arctic using "belligerent rhetoric."

"The question now is how Russia will respond to the challenge."

Despite Trukhachev's "rhetoric" most believe the countries involved will be able to settle their disagreements through legal, peaceful means.

(Reuters Photo)