[…] A change of tactics by a country that previously has intended not to openly provoke the Russian bear. Or recognition of a dramatically changed security picture. Views are mixed.
“It is definitively not a good idea unless Norwegian authorities only want to keep a strong relationship with one of the powers, the United States,” says Lieutenant Colonel Tormod Heier when asked about Norway’s sailing with NATO ships east of Varanger. Heier is professor at the Norwegian Defense College. He argues that Norway can’t keep a relationship with only the United States, but is forced to seek good relations with Russia as well.
“This is due to Norway’s unique geopolitical position, only 40 to 120 kilometers from some of Russia’s most valuable nuclear forces. Norwegian authorities, therefore, need to balance between almost incompatible great power expectations: to be a good ally in the west while also being a good neighbor in the east,” professor Heier says. […]
Tormod Heier says it is hard to know what is propaganda and what is a real Russian security concern. “It is important to note, however, that in all propaganda is a small core of truth.” He recommends Norwegian authorities to be cautious about shrugging off Russian concerns.
“Norwegian security interests rests upon a safe and secure Russia; that is our unique destiny,” Heier says and points to the high north where Norwegian and Russian security interests are “intimately entwined.” […]
Julie Wilhelmsen with the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) is an expert on Russian foreign and security policies. She says the intensity in Russian statements on Norwegian defense policy has escalated in recent years. “In particular since the 2018 Trident Juncture exercise.” Participating in the exercise was USS Harry S. Truman, the first time since the 1980ies an American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier sailed inside the Arctic Circle near the Lofoten archipelago.
“While Norway contends that these are small changes and that the Norwegian policy of balance between deterrence and reassurance are unchanged, Russia insists that the changes are threatening and in breach with former policies,” Julie Wilhelmsen explains.
“Russian rhetoric on Norway is part of a broader pattern found in general foreign policy discourse in recent years focusing aggressively on increasing US military installations and presence closer to Russia’s borders anywhere, in Georgia to the south or in the Far East,” she says. Läs artikel