Russia is withdrawing from the membership of the Barents Council/Euro-Arctic Region (SBER), the Russian Foreign Ministry announced on Monday.
“In the current conditions, we are forced to announce the withdrawal of the Russian Federation from the SBER. The corresponding message of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia S.V. Lavrov on September 18, 2023 was sent to the ministries of the member countries of the organization, to the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, as well as to the International Barents Secretariat in Kirkenes (Norway),” says the statement published on the website of the Russian Foreign Ministry. The “Interfax” agency drew attention to this.
The statement notes that “Russia will continue to implement its national tasks in the North.” On Smolenskaya Square, they emphasized that Russia “remains open to interaction with everyone who is constructively disposed, ready for equal dialogue and mutually beneficial joint work.”
According to the essment of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, the activity of the council has been “virtually paralyzed” since March 2022. This happened, according to Moscow, “due to the fault of the western members of the council (Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden, EU).
In March 2022, the SBER member countries – Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, as well as the EU – announced the suspension of cooperation with Russia.
The Council of the Barents/Euro-Arctic region was established as a forum for regional cooperation in early 1993 at a meeting of foreign ministers of Russia and the countries of Northern Europe in Kirkenes (Norway). In addition to the permanent members of the SBER, nine more states – Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Canada, the Netherlands, Poland, France, the USA and Japan – have the status of observers at the Council.