Consequences of Russian military aggression for the Ukrainian Antarctic program presented at the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting

Consequences of Russian military aggression for the Ukrainian Antarctic program presented at the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting

Annually, representatives of the Contracting Parties to the Antarctic Treaty hold consultative meetings “for the purpose of exchanging information, consulting together on matters of common interest pertaining to Antarctica, and formulating and considering, and recommending to their Governments, measures in furtherance of the principles and objectives of the Treaty.” In fact, this meeting is the most important event of the year in the elite club of the Antarctic countries, comparable to the meeting of the UN General Assembly – only for the Antarctic Treaty parties. At the meeting, all the main issues of joint management and cooperation on the icy continent are resolved. 56 countries are parties to the Treaty, but only 29 Consultative Parties, including Ukraine, have the right to vote. Unfortunately, the Russian Federation has also the right to vote at Consultative Meetings.

Today, May 30, the work of the 45th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting has started in Helsinki, Finland. At the beginning of the meeting, Johanna Sumuvuori, the State Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, spoke on behalf of the host country and, in particular, condemned the full-scale Russian aggression.

In response, representatives of the Russian Federation spoke out against the so-called “politicization” of the work of the Antarctic Treaty System, reacting to Ms. Johanna’s speech, as well as to the demarche arranged by Ukraine and a group of like-minded countries during the previous meeting last year. According to representatives of the Russian Federation, such politicization negatively affects the international cooperation of the parties and is contrary to the spirit of the Treaty. Moreover, they noted that the scale of the impact of the war on the Ukrainian Antarctic program is not obvious

Representatives of the Ukrainian delegation  Director of the National Antarctic Scientific Center Evgen Dykyi and Head of the International Cooperation Department of the NASC Andrii Fedchuk  reacted to such a statement.

On the eve of the meeting, with the support of the Finnish side, a photo exhibition “Ukraine in the Antarctic: Research and Invincibility” was installed. The purpose of this exhibition is to highlight the work of the NASC under the difficult conditions of Russian aggression. The exhibition presents photos about the history and modernity of Ukrainian research in Antarctica, the unique nature of the icy continent. Two collages occupy a special place in the exhibition: a photo of the NASC office, which was destroyed as a result of a Russian missile strike in the center of Kyiv, and Ukrainian polar explorers who joined the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and defend Ukraine.

“Antarctica and the Antarctic Treaty are not somewhere in space. When one party to the Treaty completely disregards the basic principles of the UN, that party cannot demand “depoliticization”. If you are asking about the direct impact of Russian military aggression on the Ukrainian Antarctic program, specifically on the program, not on the entire country, please look at the photos in the lobby. Look at the photo where the office of the Ukrainian Antarctic Center, one of the parties to the Treaty, was destroyed by a ballistic missile of the other party to the Antarctic Treaty. Also look at the faces of Ukrainian polar explorers, among which are scientists who cannot continue Antarctic research, because they have to fight for their Motherland, for our democracy on the front lines. And this is all the direct impact of the war on our Antarctic program,” Evgen Dykyi noted in his speech.

After that, the majority of countries, Consultative Parties to the Treaty, condemned Russian aggression. China is the only country that opposed the “politicization” of the meeting.

We sincerely thank all countries, and especially Finland, for their expressed support for Ukraine

For reference.

Ukraine has joined the Antarctic Treaty in 1992.

Participation in the Treaty gives our state the right to conduct activities in Antarctica (in particular, to establish scientific stations and send scientific expeditions) and to appoint authorized representatives to the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings.

In 2004, Ukraine has received the status of a Consultative Party to the Antarctic Treaty – currently only 29 countries have it. This status gives our state the right to a decisive vote in making any decisions on all issues related to activities in Antarctica.

Photo: Andrii Fedchuk