On Thin Ice: UK Defence in the Arctic Contents


1.In its report Russia: Implications for UK defence and security published in July 2016, our predecessor Committee identified the Arctic and the High North as an area of concern, largely due to the increasingly clear evidence of Russian military expansion. The predecessor Committee also resolved to undertake a closer examination of the region in a dedicated inquiry.1 Accordingly, the Defence Sub-Committee put out an initial call for evidence in December 2016, seeking submissions on the following issues:

2.The inquiry was still in the process of taking evidence when Parliament was dissolved ahead of the 2017 General Election, and was revived by the re-established Defence Sub-Committee in the new Parliament. Across the previous and the current Parliament a total of five oral evidence sessions have been held and 29 submissions of written evidence have been received. We would like to express our gratitude to the individuals concerned for their contribution. The Sub-Committee visited Norway in February 2017 to hold meetings with Norwegian defence and security officials and to observe the Royal Marines and attached units during annual winter training exercises in Northern Norway. We would like to thank all personnel involved in facilitating and supporting the visit and place on record how impressed we were with the quality of the people on these exercises and the level of their training. The Sub-Committee has had the advantage throughout of the expertise of our specialist adviser Dr Duncan Depledge and extend our thanks to him.2 We would also like to recognise the contribution of James Gray MP, who chaired the predecessor Sub-Committee in the last Parliament and whose interest and expertise in defence and the polar regions were the driving force behind the inquiry from the outset.

1 Defence Committee, Russia: Implications for UK defence and security, First Report of Session 2016–17, HC 107, paras 84–87

2 Specialist Advisers’ declarations of relevant interests are recorded in the Committee’s Formal Minutes which are available on the main Committee’s website.

Published: 15 August 2018