Frozen Baikal Lake

Interview with Nikolay Korchunov, Russia’s Senior Arctic Official

30 March 2020
Nikolay Korchunov is a career diplomat who has served as the Ambassador at Large for the Arctic Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Russia and the Senior Arctic Official of the Russian Federation to the Arctic Council since December 2018. One year into his position, we asked the ambassador about his experiences in the Arctic Council.

Nikolay Korchunov is a career diplomat who has served as the Ambassador at Large for the Arctic Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Russia and the Senior Arctic Official of the Russian Federation to the Arctic Council since December 2018. Prior to his current role, Korchunov occupied various positions at the headquarters of the MFA of Russia and abroad, including postings at the embassies of the Russian Federation to Sweden and Finland. In addition, he served as Head of Russia’s delegation to the Council’s Task Force on Arctic Marine Cooperation and the Task Force on Improved Connectivity in the Arctic from 2015 until 2018.

Nikolay Korchunov emphasizes that Arctic issues include challenging topics – not only for Russia but also for the other Arctic States and globally. He is especially interested in matters related to sustainable development, in finding the right balance between environmental protection and socio-economic development.

One year into his position, we asked the ambassador about his experiences in the Arctic Council – and inquired about his preparations for the upcoming Russian Chairmanship.

How would you summarize your first year at the Arctic Council?

I have visited many places in the Arctic and gotten acquainted with many people and issues. I can see now that most issues, questions and challenges in the Arctic are interconnected. So there is an obvious need for an integrated, crosssectoral, and inclusive approach to development in the Arctic.


Russia will assume the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2021 – how are you and your team preparing for that?

We are in the early stages of the preparations for the forthcoming Arctic Council Chairmanship. There will be a number of priorities on the agenda of our Chairmanship, among them of course environmental protection and sustainable development, as well as new technologies for safeguarding the Arctic environment. The human dimension, the Arctic inhabitants including Indigenous peoples, will of course be stressed and underlined throughout our forthcoming Chairmanship.


For us to prepare for the Russian Chairmanship: What is the Russian term for the Arctic Council?

Арктический совет – организация, которая должна обеспечить умное управление Арктикой. И это то, чем мы занимаемся.


What does that translate to?

The Arctic Council is the organization, which is supposed to provide the conditions for and contribute to responsible governance in the Arctic. That is what we are doing here.