The United States will open its first diplomatic post north of the Arctic Circle in Norway amid newfound interest in climate change, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has announced.
The northernmost US diplomatic facility in the world will be located in Tromso, the largest city in Norwegian Lapland.
While Blinken stressed specifically that the cooperation will focus on climate change and working with indigenous people, the announcement follows a visit by the USS Gerald Ford, the world’s largest warship, to Oslo. In an ostensible display of NATO firepower, the 337-meter nuclear-powered ship sailed into the Norwegian capital before heading to the Arctic for military drills, marking a first port call by a US aircraft carrier in Norway in 65 years. During the visit, tight military ties between the two nations were stressed. The US also lavished praise over Norway as a dutiful NATO ally.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt returned the favor and said she was “very happy” with Washington’s decision, voicing hope that it will strenghten the cooperation “further.”
Why the Interest in the Arctic?
The US has increasingly viewed the Arctic as strategic as climate change decreases ice in the northern ocean. In 2020, the US opened a consulate in Nuuk, Greenland, which lies just south of the Arctic Circle. Greenland, the remotest part of the Danish Realm, already hosts the US northernmost air base and has recently become a key area of US and NATO interest amid the military build-up in the far north. The US has furthermore shown a keen desire to secure access to the rare minerals found in the Greenlandic depths.
Already in 2019, the Pentagon designated the Arctic as a potential corridor for strategic competition, particularly with Russia and China. Washington’s key European allies in this region, Norway and Denmark (through its faraway territories the Faroe Island and Greenland, which are part of the Danish Realm) have placed a greater emphasis on Arctic as well.