As a NATO member, Canada has been criticized for its relative lack of military spending. But, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Canada’s started stepping up, pledging to invest C$4.9 billion (US$3.8 billion) to improve the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). NORAD is an organization that’s been around since the 80s, but some of its defense systems haven’t been upgraded in a while and could use some renewal.
During a visit to northern Canada last week, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg brought up new threats in the Arctic, including Russia and China. He explained that Russia’s shortest path to North America is over the North Pole, and the country also recently set up an Arctic Command and opened hundreds of new and past Soviet-era Arctic military sites. On top of this new development, China has declared itself a “near-Arctic state” and plans to spend billions on energy, infrastructure and research projects in the north. Because of climate change, the Arctic is becoming more accessible to global militaries, which means NATO needs to step up its presence there.
“The importance of the high North is increasing for NATO and for Canada because we see a significant Russian military buildup,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said. “Beijing and Moscow have also pledged to intensify practical cooperation in the Arctic. This forms part of a deepening strategic partnership that challenges our values and interests.”
“The geopolitical situation has shifted over the 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 through NORAD,” Canada’s President Justin Trudeau said.
“Finland and Sweden joining NATO could be seen as part of NATO’s intention to focus on Arctic-related affairs,” said Wang Yiwei, director of the Institute of International Affairs at the Renmin University of China.