No warmth for Russia at diplomatic conference on Antarctica

May 23, 2022, 6:56 PM | Updated: May 26, 2022, 10:36 am

BERLIN (AP) — Russia received a frosty reception Tuesday at the start of an international conference on managing and protecting Antarctica, a rare point of diplomatic contact between Russia and other nations since the start of the war in Ukraine.

Dozens of countries are participating in a 10-day meeting in Berlin to review the Antarctic Treaty, which was forged in 1959 to ensure the continent remains the preserve of science and free of arms.

Russia is represented by an official from its embassy in Germany and further delegates were participating remotely by video link.

Opening the meeting, a senior German official addressed the Russian presence directly, saying that it was “not an easy decision to come together here in Berlin at the negotiation table while one consultative party is waging war on another consultative party.”

Jennifer Morgan, the former head of Greenpeace who was recently appointed as Germany’s climate envoy, accused Russia of waging “an unjustifiable, unprovoked and illegal war of aggression against Ukraine,” according to a written draft of her remarks.

She called on Moscow to immediately comply with a U.N. resolution demanding an end to the war and the withdrawal of Russian troops “from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.”

It was not immediately clear whether or how Russian officials responded.

While Russia’s leadership has steadfastly defended the country’s attack on Ukraine — which Moscow refers to as a “special military operation” rather than a war — some Russian officials have expressed misgivings.

On Monday, a veteran diplomat at Russia’s mission to the United Nations in Geneva announced his resignation in a scathing letter, saying “never have I been so ashamed of my country as on Feb. 24 of this year” — the date of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The Antarctic Treaty has long been seen as an example of successful international cooperation for the benefit of humanity.

“This is something we want to preserve — and this although the loss of confidence in the aggressor party in terms of its compliance with international obligations is evident,” said Morgan.

Russia is one of several countries that operate scientific bases in Antarctica, including the second-most southerly station operated year-round in Antarctica after the United State’s Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.

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No warmth for Russia at diplomatic conference on Antarctica