Ukrainian president warns Norway against Russian Arctic militarization

President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks to the Norwegian Parliament, the Storting. (Photo: president.gov.ua)

“We do not have common borders, but we have a common neighbor that stands against our common values,” the Ukrainian President says in an address to the Norwegian parliament.

The hall of the Storting was packed as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday spoke on a video link from Kyiv.

In his speech, the Ukrainian leader warned against Moscow and its aggressive policies against neighboring countries. This also applies to Norway, Zelensky argued.

“I think that you are feeling new risks on your borders with Russia in the Arctic region,” he said and underlined that Russia over the last years has undertaken a major upgrade of its Arctic forces.

“They have developed such a big army force up there [in the Arctic] that can not be explained by any common sense,” he said, and asked “Against whom is it? And why are they doing this?”

According to Zelensky, the battles that now rage in Ukraine will “decide the future of Europe,”

“The war of Russia against Ukraine is just a follow-up of their attempt to destroy the foundations of Europe, and this aggression is targeting not just our borders but also your borders,” he told the Norwegian legislators.

Europe must stand united, he underlined.

“For your soldiers not have to protect the countries of the eastern flank and for Russian [naval] mines not to be drifting towards your fjords and ports, [and] for Russian tanks not to be accumulating on your border, we have to stand together in our attempt to stop the aggression of Russian Federation.”

The Ukrainian president highlighted historical relations and said that Norwegian Vikings were frequent visitors to Kyiv 1000 years ago.

Several minutes of applause following President Zelensky’s address to the Norwegian Storting. (Photo: Screenshot from Stortinget)

He also underlined the Ukrainian contribution to the liberation of northern Norway from Nazi German forces. The first Soviet soldier that entered and liberated Kirkenes in October 1944 was a Ukrainian national from the city of Sumy, he explained. “Now, in his motherland of the Sumy region there are heated battles going on with Russia,” Zelensky said.

The president also called for more support from the Norwegian government. He especially highlighted the need for anti-ship missiles, anti-air systems, and anti-armored vehicles systems.

He also called for Norwegian support for the post-war rebuilding of the country and highlighted Norway’s experiences in treating war trauma and rehabilitating both civilians and soldiers.

In an unprecedented move, Norway in late February provided about 2000 M72 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine. On the 30th of March, the same day as Zelensky spoke to the Storting, the country’s government announced that another 2000 M72s had been sent to Ukraine.

It is the first time in its newer history that Norway sends weapons to a country at war.

According to Norwegian Minister of Defense Odd Roger Enoksen, the weapons are a contribution to European security.

“Ukraine is dependent on weapon support from other countries to continue its fight against Russia’s attack on international law [and] if Ukraine succeeds to fight back against Russian attacks it will help secure Ukrainian sovereignty and contribute to upholding the norm about peaceful conflict resolution and respect for international borders in Europe,” the minister says in a statement.

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Russian invasion of Ukraine puts ‘more attention onto the needs of the Arctic’, CBC News

Finland: Russian cyber attacks, espionage pose growing threat to Finnish national security, Yle News

Norway: Nordic countries halt all regional cooperation with Russia, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russia announces stricter entry rules as new Iron Curtain looms, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: More than 2,300 Swedish and Finnish troops advance into Northern Norway to join NATO drills Cold Response, The Independent Barents Observer

United States: U.S. Army unveils Arctic strategy as relations with Russia plunge into deep freeze, Radio Canada International

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

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

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