February 22, 2024
President Joe Biden will create a new "ambassador-at-large" position for the Arctic region, an area of growing importance for the United States as Russia increases its presence in the region, the administration announced Friday.

President Joe Biden will create a new “ambassador-at-large” position for the Arctic region, an area of growing importance for the United States as Russia increases its presence in the region, the administration announced Friday.

The ambassadorship will replace and elevate the current Arctic Coordinator position, the U.S. State Department said in a press release. The new position will be subject to the advice and consent of the Senate, just like other ambassadorships.

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“An Arctic region that is peaceful, stable, prosperous, and cooperative is of critical strategic importance to the United States and a priority for Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken,” the department said. “As one of eight Arctic nations, the United States has long been committed to protecting our national security and economic interests in the region, combating climate change, fostering sustainable development and investment, and promoting cooperation with Arctic States, Allies, and partners.”

The new ambassador will advance U.S. policy in the Arctic, engage with Arctic and non-Arctic nation indigenous groups, and work closely with federal, state, local, and tribal governments, the department added.

The region is a growing area of interest to the U.S. partly due to climate change, which is making the region more accessible. The new position also coincides with a growing threat from Russia, which has opened hundreds of Soviet-era military facilities in the Arctic, according to Politico. China is also looking to expand its presence in the Arctic for economic reasons.

The announcement was applauded by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who has championed the idea for years.

“Before todaythe U.S. was the only Arctic nation without dedicated diplomatic representation for the Arctic Region at the Ambassador level or higher,” Murkowski said. “By establishing this role, America will solidify its dedication, commitment, and leadership to this strategically important region and have greater opportunities to spur the diplomacy necessary to preserve a peaceful, prosperous Arctic.”

The U.S. established itself as a leader in the Arctic with the grand opening of the Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies earlier this month. The center will focus on Arctic security and connecting military and civilian stakeholders in the region, according to an Air Force press release.

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No recommendation for the ambassadorship was made in the release. The Arctic portfolio was given to State Department Counselor Derek Chollet on a temporary basis earlier this summer.

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