Norway has claimed that it has no concerns with Russian re-investment in its defence systems in the far north, with Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store claiming that the two countries will continue on a path of mutual co-operation which will improve Oslo’s political and military relations with Moscow.
“There is no tension between the Norwegian and the Russian militaries, and 15 years of Norwegian-Russian co-operation has removed any tension,” said Store in a report by Norway News. The Russian defence operation, which is based around Murmansk, has seen an estimated expenditure of between USD 12 and 15 billion in the past five years by the Russian government, as it strengthens and modernises its operation. “Norway will, of course, continue to closely monitor Russia’s military efforts, but we cannot see that this in any way changes the good relations between Norway and Russia,” Store added.
Norway’s High North Defence Plan (HNDP) has been the subject of an ongoing credibility debate, with former head of defence forces General Sverre Diesen warning that greater investment in the plan was needed by the government. “Our High North defence can be stronger with more funding. We need a battalion of enlisted soldiers in the region to guarantee that the advanced equipment that we have can be used,” said the retired General who believes that Norway should move to a professional military as opposed to the existing conscription system.
The cross-border military co-operation has grow significantly in the past two years, highlighted by the head of the Norwegian Border Defence Department’s Ivar Magne Sakserud becoming the first military officer from Norway to visit the officially ‘closed’ military area of the Russian Rybachiy peninsula earlier this month. “This vote of confidence proves that the relationship and co-operative climate between Norway and Russia is very good,” Sakserud said.