On September 14, General Walt Natynczyk, Canada’s Chief of Defence, began a three day trip to Moscow to meet with Russia’s Army General Nikolay Yegorovich Makarov, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces/First Deputy Minister of Defence and General of the Army. General Makarov invited General Natynczyk to visit Russia last January when they met in Brussels at the NATO-Russia Council.
General Natyncyzk stated, “This visit is an important opportunity to strengthen Canadian-Russian military ties, and exchange views on some of our common defence interests. I hope that General Makarov will honour us with a visit to Canada so we can continue to build on our relationship.”
The two generals also discussed working together in the Arctic. RIA Novosti reported General Makarov as saying, “The Arctic should not be militarized. This should be a zone of peace and security. We have to very clearly fulfill the environmental issues associated with the development and prospecting of the region.”
Natynczyk and Makarov also reportedly agreed to exchange visits of Canadian and Russian naval vessels. A Canadian ship will visit Murmansk in November, after which a Russian visit to Vancouver will be discussed.
This meeting marks a milestone in Canadian-Russian relations, as it is the first time that the two countries’ chiefs of defense have met in nine years. It also builds upon the recent joint military exercise Operation Vigilant Eagle, in which the American, Canadian, and Russian militaries simulated a plane hijacking over the Bering Strait. The continuation of dialogue between Canada and Russia will help to cool any tensions between the two countries, which have ebbed and waned over the past several years. Most recently, in March 2010, right before the Arctic Summit in Chelsea, Quebec, President Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon’s spokeswoman, Catherine Loubier, both declared their countries’ intentions to secure their territorial interests in the Arctic. As Canada and Russia are perhaps the two countries most defensive about their Arctic borders and boundaries, it is good news when they are on the same page.