“Even if a Russian attack on Norway is not likely, we must realise that we have a neighbour to the east that has become more dangerous and more unpredictable,” Norwegian Defence Minister Odd Roger Enoksen told a press conference, referring to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
The extra funds will be used to beef up naval presence in the north, intensify training for both soldiers and reservists and increase stocks of
ammunition, fuel and equipment. They will also be used to increase capacity to receive allied troops and strengthen cyber defence and intelligence.
As the northernmost NATO member in Europe, the Nordic country shares a 196-kilometre (120-mile) land border with Russia in the Arctic and a large maritime border in the Barents Sea.
“We need to increase our presence in the north,” Enoksen said.
“Russia has significant security interests in our region and the north is also of great economic importance to Russia,” he added.
Major naval, air and land manoeuvres are currently underway in Norway in which some 30,000 soldiers from 27 countries, including both NATO members and partners of the military alliance, are taking part.
The exercise Cold Response 2022 is designed to test Norway’s ability to receive allied reinforcements in the event of external aggression
In addition, the exercise is an opportunity for troops to train for combat in cold weather.
Minister of Justice Emilie Enger Mehl said that the Police Security Service (PST) warned of an increased threat of espionage and cyber-attacks in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The government will take action to make society less vulnerable to digital attacks,” Mehl said on Friday.
The increased defence and intelligence spending are part of a broader package in response to the war in Ukraine announced by Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre on Friday.
Støre announced in Norway’s parliament, the Storting, on Friday that Norway was expecting to receive around 35,000 refugees fleeing war in Ukraine in 2022 and that immigration authorities were working to increase capacity to process up to 100,000 refugees.
The government also announced a package to support business in northern Norway, particularly in east Finnmark, that will be hit by reduced trade between Norway and Russia due to sanctions. The money will be spent on a support scheme to help companies that will see their income hit by sanctions.
Norway also adopted all EU sanctions announced against Russia up until March 9th into law. However, the government said it would not block Russia Today and Sputnik from being broadcast.