Russian military jet activity rises in Norway

Norway said on Wednesday it had observed an increasing number of Russian military jets near its airspace last year, amid President Vladimir Putin's massive rearmament plan.

The Scandinavian country scrambled fighter jets on 41 occasions to inspect Russian military aircraft flying past its airspace although the planes always stayed in international territory, the Norwegian air force said in its annual report.

A total of 71 Russian military planes were identified during the sorties, the highest since 2009, it said.

"It's important to note that none of these planes were intercepted" in Norwegian air space, said the head of the Norwegian military, Harald Sunde.

The two countries share a 196-kilometre (122-mile) border in the far north, where Russia has large military bases in the Murmansk region. Putin, who returned to the Kremlin in May, has announced an "unprecedented" Russian rearmament, vowing to pump more than 550 billion euros ($705 billion) into the defence industry over the next ten years.

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Norway accuses Russia over cyber attack on parliament

Norway's government on Tuesday said that it believes Russia was behind an August cyber attack targeting the email system of the country's parliament.

Norway accuses Russia over cyber attack on parliament
The parliament building in Oslo. File photo: AFP

The attack was detected in August, when Norway announced hackers had attacked the parliament's email system, gaining access to some lawmakers' messages.

“Based on the information the government has, it is our view that Russia is responsible for these activities,” foreign minister Ine Eriksen Søreide said in a statement.

The foreign ministry did not specify what information prompted its conclusions, but encouraged companies to follow guidelines on cyber security.

“This is a very serious incident, affecting our most important democratic institution,” she added.

In its annual threat assessment published in February, Norway's PST domestic intelligence service warned of “computer network operations” which they said represented a “persistent and long-term threat to Norway”.

In 2018, NATO member Norway arrested a Russian national suspected of gathering information on the parliament's internet network, but released him several weeks later due to lack of evidence.

The two countries, which share a common border in the Arctic, have generally enjoyed good relations but those have become strained since Russian annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014.

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