Norway must ramp up its military capacities in order to meet challenges from neighboring Russia, a new government-commissioned report recommends.
Russia’s annexation of the Crimea and the subsequent incursions into other parts of eastern Ukraine have serious implications for the security situation in the North, the reportcommissioned by the Norwegian Defence Ministry concludes.
“The Ukraine crisis marks the end of a long period of peace time in Europe, and Russia’s military build-up exposes a more evident assymetry in Norwegian-Russian power relations”, the information reads.
According to the authors, “the new threat and risk reality requires that a new state of normality is established”. In case of a serious crisis, Russia will seek to gain control over the areas adjacent to the Kola Peninsula and deny others access. The adjacent areas include parts of northern Norway, as well as the Barents Sea and Norwegian Sea.
Outright conflict vs political tensions
The report still argues that the risk for an outright conflict in the Norwegian-Russian north is limited. It does not however exclude difficult situations connected neither with the delimitation processes on the Arctic shelf, nor at and around the archipelago of Svalbard.
The report recommends that Norway steps up its defence investments with two billion NOK (€240) by year 2017 and that an efficiency program which will release another 3,5 billion NOK is implemented. In addition, funding will need to be found for the acquisition of new submarines.
The main priorities for the Norwegian defence re-orientation will concentrate on enhanced intelligence and surveillance; more robust leadership structures for crisis management; a more trustworthy deterrence ability; better rapid-response units; constant presence in exposed areas and more support by regular military forces.
The report is authored by a group of seven experts headed by Professor Rolf Tamnes from the Norwegian Institute of Defence Studies. It was commissioned by the Norwegian Defence Ministry in December 2014 and handed over to Minister Ine Søreide Eriksen on 28 April.
Related stories from around the North:
Canada: Arctic Council Ministerial – Winners and Losers, Blog by Heather Exner-Pirot
Denmark: Nordics to step up security cooperation on perceived Russian threat, Yle News
Finland: Survey – More than half of reservists in Finland pro-Nato, Yle News
Norway: Norway summons Russian Ambassador, Barents Observer
Russia: “Norway has no right to stop anyone from visiting Svalbard:” Russia, Barents Observer
Sweden: Russia concerned by Finland, Sweden moves towards closer ties with NATO, Radio Sweden
United States: U.S. Arctic rep: Russia’s Arctic buildup not necessarily martial, Alaska Public Radio Network