Norway raises military alert in response to Ukraine war

OSLO (Reuters) – The Norwegian government said on Monday it would raise the alert level of its army from Tuesday, move more personnel to operational missions and boost the role of the rapid mobilization force in response to the war in Ukraine. .

The chief of defense, General Erik Kristoffersen, said Norway will also seek to operate its new fleet of maritime patrol aircraft to hunt US-made P-8 Poseidon submarines at a faster pace than originally planned.

“The government has decided that the armed forces will raise their level of alert and move to a new stage, starting from the first of November,” the government said in a statement.

However, the scale of preparedness on which the military operates is classified, and the government has refused to give details of the level.

NATO member Norway shares a land border of about 200 kilometers (125 mi) with Russia in the Arctic as well as a vast sea border.

The Scandinavian country of 5.4 million people is now the largest exporter of natural gas to the European Union, accounting for about a quarter of all EU imports after Russian flows declined.

“This is the most dangerous security situation in several decades,” Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Steuer of the centre-left Labor Party told a news conference.

“There are no indications that Russia is expanding its war to other countries, but the heightened tensions make us more vulnerable to threats, intelligence operations and influence campaigns.”

Defense Minister Björn Arild Gram said the armed forces would spend less time training and more time on operational missions, and the Internal Guard, a rapid mobilization force, would play a more active role.

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Armed Forces Commander Christophersen said the Air Force has canceled exercises in the United States with its F-35 fighter jets, preferring to keep them in Norway.

“We expect this situation to continue for at least a year,” Kristofferson said.

Norway deployed its army for the first time to protect offshore platforms and land installations after the Nord Stream pipeline leaks on September 26 and received support from the British, French and German navies.

The country’s security police last week arrested a suspected Russian spy and are also involved in protecting exports of gas, which is vital to Europe’s energy supply next winter.

Reporting by Gwladys Fouche; Written by Terje Solsvik; Editing by Nora Polley, Philippa Fletcher, John Stonestreet and Alison Williams

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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