Today I am publishing a new defence policy document for the high north, “The UK’s Defence Contribution in the High North.” I have placed a copy in the Library of the House. The purpose of this defence high north paper is to ensure that future defence policies, activities and capabilities relevant to the high north region are coherent and effectively integrated with HMG’s broader objectives for the region.
The UK’s defence contribution in the high north sits as part of the broader UK Government approach to the region defined most recently in the 2018 Arctic policy framework, “Beyond the Ice.” While its focus is on the Arctic and high north, it notes that the region is contiguous with the north Atlantic and cannot be isolated from UK interests in adjacent regions, including northern Europe and the Baltic sea region, and the rest of the world. The UK Government will be reviewing its broader approach to the Arctic and will publish a new, integrated Arctic policy framework later in 2022.
“The UK’s Defence Contribution in the High North” lays out how defence will support wider UK aims, as outlined in “Beyond the Ice.” The main commitments include:
Protecting our critical national infrastructure and our other national interests, and those of our allies and partners.
Ensuring our freedom to navigate and operate across the wider region.
Reinforcing the rules-based international system, particularly UNCLOS.
Contesting malign and destabilising behaviours.
The MOD recognises the growing importance of the high north to our defence and security, the opportunities it presents, and the potential for growing competition and tensions in the region. The MOD is determined to play its part in a Government-wide integrated approach, alongside allies and partners, to ensure that increasing access to the region and its resources is managed safely, sustainably and responsibly. This strategy sets out our commitment. It is intended to guide defence efforts over a 10-year period, including long-term capability decisions, but will be reviewed on a regular basis.
“The UK’s Defence Contribution in the High North” can be viewed online at: http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2022-03-29/HCWS738/.