Russia says no need for NATO in Arctic, expands own military presence

A World War II memorial gun overlooking Dikson, Russia's northernmost town on the Taimyr Peninsula in Siberia. (Thomas Nilsen / Barents Observer)
A World War II memorial gun overlooking Dikson, Russia’s northernmost town on the Taimyr Peninsula in Siberia. (Thomas Nilsen / Barents Observer)
Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announces plans to deploy troops along entire length of the Arctic, while Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is convinced there is no problem requiring NATO presence.

“We firmly believe that in the Arctic, there are no problems that require the involvement ofNATO,” Sergey Lavrov said in a speech to supporters of United Russia on Monday.

“The Arctic – Territory of Dialogue is exactly the slogan we regularly use in Russian forums,” Sergey Lavrov told and continued by explaining that all Arctic countries are facing common problems and challenges, like the environment, safety of sea transport and dividing the Arctic continental shelf.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. (Thomas Nilsen/Barents Observer)
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. (Thomas Nilsen/Barents Observer)

The day after Sergey Lavrov’s speech, Russia’s Minister of Defense told top military officers in Moscow that Russia during 2014 will complete deployment of military units on its territory all along the Arctic Circle.

“We have been very active in the Arctic region lately, and this year we will have a large number of units deployed along the Arctic Circle, practically from Murmansk to Chukotka, Sergey Shoigu said quoted by RIA Novosti.

RT quoted the Defense Minister saying: “We have set quite a pace in our foray into the Arctic.”

Wants more NATO in the north

Norway, Russia’s closest NATO member in the Arctic, announced already two years ago that the ambition is more soldiers in the north.

“Our ambition is a clear NATO footprint in the north,” State Secretary Roger Ingebrigtsen in the Defense Minsitry said as reported by BarentsObserver.

Solberg says situation is more tense

On Wednesday, Norway’s Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, told VG that Norway keeps its fleet of F-16 fighter jets at home due to increased Russian activity in the north.

The question was raised because Norway, unlike other NATO countries like Denmark, Holland and Belgium, is not sending fighter jets to combat IS in Iraq.

“First, The United States has not asked if we would send combat aircrafts to Iraq. Secondly, we have some technical challenges making it appropriate to maintain capacity at home. The third reason is a tenser situation in our neighbourhood,” Erna Solberg said.

Crew on deck of a Russian Kilo-class submarine. (Thomas Nilsen/Barents Observer)
Crew on deck of a Russian Kilo-class submarine. (Thomas Nilsen/Barents Observer)

Asked by VG if the situation is tenser due to the current Swedish submarine hunt, the Prime Minister replied:

“No, I am thinking about the overall picture of increased Russian activity in the air and at sea, and the movement of troops and other things that makes it necessary in today’s situation to keep good preparedness in our neighbourhood.”

Lavrov and Solberg to Kirkenes

On October 25, Erna Solberg will participate at the 70th anniversary of Soviet troops’s liberation of Kirkenes, Norway’s bordertown to Russia in Finnmark.

Russia’s Sergey Lavrov has also announced that he will come to Kirkenes for the celebration.

Solberg’s calendar for the day reads that she will be at the anniverary with the Norwegian King and Foreign Minister Børge Brende. Lavrov’s participation is not mentioned.

Sergey Lavrov will during the stay have bi-lateral talks with Norway’s Foreign Minister Børge Brende, a press release from the Foreign Ministry reads.

For more BarentsObserver news on Saturday’s 70th anniversary of WWII liberation follow#liberation44 on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canadian Military explores sunken sailing ship in the Arctic, Radio Canada International

Finland:  Finland’s president sees rising non-civilian traffic in Baltic, Yle News

Norway:  Pacific Akulas arrive in Severodvinsk, Russia, Barents Observer

Russia:  Hamburg & the Northern Sea Route, Blog by Mia Bennett

Sweden: Sweden’s military is in touch with “something” in sub hunt: reports, Radio Sweden

United States:  Pentagon: Climate change is national security risk, Barents Observer



Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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