Norway creates new Army unit on Arctic border with Russia

Soldiers from the garrison of Sør-Varanger pictured on the Pasvik, the river that forms the border between Norway and Russia. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)
Soldiers from the garrison of Sør-Varanger pictured on the Pasvik, the river that forms the border between Norway and Russia. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)
Two-hundred more Norwegian soldiers with light anti-aircraft and anti-armor weapons will be based with the garrison of Sør-Varanger.

“Norway is NATO in the North,” says Parliament member Frank Bakke-Jensen to the Barents Observer. Representing the Conservative Party in Norway’s collision government he presented the news to place a new Ranger Company with the Garrison of Sør-Varanger.

Anti-armor weapons can stop tanks and light anti-aircraft weapons can take down helicopters.

“You will think twice before crossing the border when you know there are such weapons in place,” explains Frank Bakke-Jensen.

Frank Bakke-Jensen represents Finnmark county and the Conservative Party in the Storting, Norway’s Parliament. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)
Frank Bakke-Jensen represents Finnmark county and the Conservative Party in the Storting, Norway’s Parliament. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)
Long-term plan for Norway’s military

The Norwegian Government’s White Paper to the Parliament describing the long-term plan for the Norwegian Armed Forces for the next 4-years period was presented on Friday.

The plan for a new Ranger Company on the border to Russia is likely the least controversial part of the entire plan and will be approved when the Parliament is to debate the future of the Armed Forces after the summer.

The Ranger Company gets 150 conscript soldiers and 46 officers on contract. Today, the Garrison of Sør-Varanger has 600 border guard conscripts and officers, many of them deployed along the 196 kilometres long land border to Russia.

“The aim of the Ranger Company is to delay a potential attack until Norway gets assistance from allied forces,” explains Bakke-Jensen who himself served at the Garrison in Sør-Varanger 30 years ago.

Norwegian border guard soldiers in the Pasvik valley. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)
Norwegian border guard soldiers in the Pasvik valley. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)
Change in Norwegian security environment

In Oslo, Minister of Defence Ine Eriksen Søreide named Russia’s growing military capability and its use of force “the most significant change in the Norwegian security environment.”

Less than one-hour drive from the border to Norway, Russia has two garrisons. Both the 200th Independent Motor Rifle Brigade and the 61st Naval Infantry Brigade in Pechenga are equipped with tanks and other armor vehicles. Another garrison that is part of Russia’s new Arctic Brigade is located in Alakurtti further south on the Kola Peninsula.

The Garrison of Sør-Varanger has an annual budget of about 180 million kroner, expected to increase with 50 million kroner when the new Ranger Company becomes operative.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canada’s defence review and the Arctic, Eye on the Arctic

Denmark:  Nordics to step up security cooperation on perceived Russian threat, Yle News

Finland:  Finland to plan joint Nordic military uniform, Yle News

Norway:  Norway calls snap military drill in Arctic, after Russian announcement, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia:  New Russian spy ship to keep tabs on Norway, Barents Observer

Sweden:  New security landscape in the Arctic, Radio Sweden

United States: U.S. general says Alaska military cuts not final without Arctic plan, Alaska Public Radio Network

 

 

Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

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

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