WASHINGTON -- U.S. Department of Defense officials met with representatives of eight Nordic and Baltic nations this week to discuss Arctic security and cooperation as great powers like Russia and China eye the region’s natural resources and water routes.
The first day of the annual Nordic-Baltic-U.S. Forum was held in Washington before moving to Norfolk, Virginia, home to the largest naval complex in the world, the Department of Defense said in a statement on September 13.
The meeting focused on maritime security as climate change opens areas of the Arctic to surface ships for the first time.
''The Arctic is changing and becoming more important for commerce. It's more of a competition area for security interests," John Rood, the undersecretary of defense for policy and the chief U.S. delegate to the forum, said in the statement. "All of these countries and the United States have a lot in common in that area.''
The Arctic is becoming a region of growing competition between the United States, Russia and China. The Kremlin has undertaken a "robust" Arctic militarization plan, reoccupying seven former Soviet bases in the region, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
Beijing released an Arctic policy last year highlighting its interest in the region despite having no boundries with it. The Arctic represents a shorter route from Asia to Europe, which the Chinese have called a “Polar Silk Road.”
In a sign of growing U.S. interest in the region, President Donald Trump last month said he was "looking" at the idea of buying Greeland, an autonomous region of Denmark that possesses a large Arctic boundary.
Member states of the Nordic-Baltic-U.S. Forum include Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania as well as the United States.