Norwegian Foreign Minister Witfeldt: Oslo is against the presence of NATO troops near the borders of Russia that the new government of the country opposes the movement of the Oslo allies in NATO near the borders of Russia and plans to restrict them.
For Norway, it is important to have a military presence in the areas close to us. But, in our opinion, it will be better if we manage ourselves in the immediate vicinity of the Russian border – with the help of Norwegian aircraft and frigates. This is very important for us
Anniken Witfeld, Norwegian Foreign Minister
defense of these areas independently, by the forces of the Norwegian armed forces. ”
They can make decisions for themselves. But we, in turn, must protect the interests of Norway. And it is in Norwegian interests to take care of the defense of these areas independently, by the Norwegian Armed Forces
Anniken Witfeldt Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway
Whitfeldt noted that now the number of NATO troops in the area near the border with Russia is no more than in other periods of the “post-war era.”
Russia, NATO, Arctic
The Arctic contains 30 percent of all unexplored gas and 13 percent oil reserves of the Earth.
The Arctic region often becomes the object of discussion between the NATO countries and Russia. The West accuses Moscow of stepping up military activity there. In particular, the publication The National Interest noted that in the Arctic there was a “competition of great powers.” The USA, Russia and China allegedly participate in it. At the same time, Washington has a chance to win – but only if a permanent American presence is established in the region.
The reason for the discussion was the increased area of neutral waters due to the melting of ice. This opens up trade opportunities for many countries of the Arctic region.
The Northern Sea Route
The Northern Sea Route (NSR) for Russia is the main Arctic shipping route connecting the ports of the Arctic and major rivers of the Northern region, the shortest water route between the Far East and the European part of the country. In addition, it is the shortest route from Europe to Asia and the most profitable logistics route.
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Melting ice will make the route an attractive transport link, comparable to the Suez or Panama Canals. Russia is stepping up its activity in the Arctic for the sake of this route and insists that it has special rights to it. However, NATO countries and the United States in particular consider Moscow's maritime claims illegal and are increasing their military presence in the Arctic.
As the Serbian journalist Zoran Milosevic noted in his article for the publication “Print”, the United States is trying in every possible way to put pressure on countries bordering the Arctic in order to prevent Russia from developing the region for its own purposes. At meetings with representatives of countries bordering the Arctic, Washington made it clear to Canada that it needs to forget about its own “right to the northwestern Arctic corridor.” and also to stop investing in the infrastructure of the Russian Northern Sea Route. In turn, Russia, according to the American authorities, should withdraw its troops from its Arctic regions. According to the author of the article, the United States advocates for the NSR to be common and not exclusively Russian.
Military build-up and militarization
Against this background, the United States is promoting a policy of control over Russia's activities in the Arctic region. In March, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the alliance has increased its activity in the Arctic because of Russia, which is increasing its presence there. He expressed the opinion that tensions in the High North, which were previously assessed by the alliance as low, have now increased.
As part of expanding our alliance in recent years, we have strengthened our presence there. We understand that the strategic importance of the Arctic has increased in part due to global warming, because the melting of ice means an increase in the area of neutral waters, and also due to the increased Russian presence [in the region]
Jens Stoltenberg NATO Secretary General
Reproaches of building up forces in the Arctic Ocean are also heard from Moscow in relation to the West. In the spring, the Russian Foreign Ministry rebuked Norway for militarizing the Arctic after a US nuclear submarine called into the civilian harbor of Tromsø in northern Norway on May 10. Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova accused Oslo of escalating tension in the region, which she linked to the country's desire to please its NATO partners.
NATO's concern over Russia's military activity in the Arctic was also commented on by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. He recalled that this is Russian territory and therefore Moscow has the right to do everything necessary to ensure its own security.
In response, Denmark announced its intention to monitor Russia in the region. Following a meeting with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Foreign Minister Eppe Kufud emphasized that Copenhagen had noticed an increase in the presence of the Russian side in the Arctic region. He added that the Danish authorities will monitor Moscow's actions to ensure the kingdom's independence and interests in the Arctic.
The National Interest, in turn, wrote that the United States is regularly revising its military strategy and building up its forces to actively counter Russia in the Arctic. The article emphasized the importance of US-Norwegian cooperation on Arctic issues “in terms of the Pentagon's interest in countering Russia's visible and well-known achievements in the Arctic.”
Ambitions of the European Union
At the same time, already in October of this year, the European Union announced its right to dictate new conditions for the Arctic. The EU stressed that it considers itself a full-fledged player in the Arctic and plans to participate in the development of rules for this region.
The European Union is located in the Arctic and has strategic and daily interests in the Arctic region. Full EU participation in Arctic issues is a geopolitical necessity
In addition, Brussels intends to promote the idea of a complete ban on mining minerals and refusal to purchase the energy resources produced there. Thus, according to analysts, the EU abandoned its unsuccessful attempts to obtain observer status in the Arctic Council (which includes eight states, including Russia, which, after the sanctions imposed in 2014, vetoes the inclusion of new players in the organization) and changed its tactics, deciding to act more straightforward.
However, experts are confident that attempts to restrict or ban the purchase of products will cost dearly both the Europeans themselves and the inhabitants of the region, including indigenous peoples.