News reported today that Russian Foreign Affairs Minister, Sergey Lovrov, will not attend the next Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Iqaluit (Canada) on April 24th and 25th. The meeting will mark the conclusion of Canada's chairmanship and the beginning of the US chairmanship, while ministers of the eight Arctic States and the high representatives of the six indigenous people organizations will highlight Canada chairmanship's achievements and set objectives for the coming two-years period.
A spokesperson from the Russian embassy in Ottawa wrote in a brief note that "Due to Lavrov's prior commitments, as well as extraordinary recent international developments which require his personal involvement, the Russian delegation at the Arctic Council ministerial meeting will be headed by Sergei Donsko", the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment of the Russian Federation.
While it has happened before that AC Member States have delegated representatives other than their own Foreign Affairs Ministers to attend the AC Ministerial Meetings, Russia's decision has raised many speculations, especially within Canadian media, due to the "icy" relation between the two countries since the Ukrainian crisis. As reported by cbc.ca, for example, "Michael Byers, Canada Research Chair in global politics and international law at the University of British Columbia, says that's because of the council's recent focus on domestic issues and not due to recent tension between Canada and Russia over the conflict in Ukraine. You can't really blame him for saying 'I don't need to be there,'" says Byers. "The Russians don't consider that anything important about foreign policy will be done in Iqaluit."