Norway declares military alert in response to war in Ukraine
- One year readiness seen, could be longer
- Norway is now Europe’s largest gas supplier
- Shares a border with Russia in the Arctic
OSLO, Oct 31 (Reuters) – Norway will place its military on heightened alert from Tuesday, allocate more personnel to operational tasks and strengthen the role of a rapid mobilization force in response to the war in Ukraine, the government said on Monday.
Norway will also try to bring its new fleet of US-made P-8 Poseidon Sea reconnaissance aircraft for submarine hunting Go into regular operation faster than originally planned, said Defense Chief General Eirik Kristoffersen.
However, the alert level at which the military is operating is classified and the government declined to give details of the level.
There were no specific threats against Norway that now prompted the decision, Kristoffersen told Reuters, but the sum total of “uncertainties” prompted authorities to increase the country’s military readiness.
“We have seen an escalation (in the war) in Ukraine, we (Norway) are training Ukrainian forces, the war in Ukraine has changed with Russian mobilization,” he said in an interview.
“And at the same time we had a gas explosion in the Baltic Sea and drone activity on North Sea platforms.”
The elevated level is expected to last a year, “possibly longer,” Kristoffersen added.
Norway first deployed its military to guard offshore platforms and onshore facilities for leaks Nord Stream Pipelines on September 26 in Swedish and Danish waters and was supported by British, Dutch, French and German forces.
The country’s security police arrested last week a suspected Russian spy and is also involved in protecting gas exports, which are vital to Europe’s energy supply in the coming winter.
NATO member Norway shares a nearly 200km land border with Russia in the Arctic, as well as a vast maritime border.
The Nordic nation of 5.4 million people is also now the largest exporter of natural gas to the European Union, accounting for around a quarter of all EU imports after a drop in Russian flows.
“The continuation of the war in Ukraine, Russia’s attempts to weaken (international) support for Ukraine mean that all countries in Europe must consider that they face hybrid threats. Norway too.” Prime Minister Jonas Garh Stoere told Reuters.
Armed forces will spend less time on training and more time on operational tasks. The Home Guard, a rapid mobilization force, will play a more active role.
The Air Force stopped training in the US with its F35 fighter jets and preferred to leave them in Norway, Kristoffersen said.
Reporting by Gwladys Fouche; writing by Terje Solsvik; Edited by John Stonestreet, Alison Williams and Alex Richardson
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