Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre had an hour long conversation with Russian president Vladimir Putin on Thursday morning, the Norwegian governemnt announced.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a brutal attack on a free country and an innocent people who are now being subjected to unimaginable suffering. I urged the president to end the hostilities in Ukraine, withdraw Russian forces and allow humanitarian access,” Støre said in a statement on the government’s website.
“I emphasised in particular that there must be unimpeded humanitarian access to the civilian population in Mariupol, and that a negotiated solution to the war must be sought,” Norway’s PM stated.
The conversation, which lasted an hour, is the first official contact between the two leaders since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24th.
Oslo said the call took place at Norway’s request after consultations with Nordic, American and European allies.
“We have no illusions about how much we can achieve, but we must leave no stone unturned in the current situation”, Store said.
The prime minister told a press conference that the exchange was “civil with clear messages from both sides” and “not necessarily the last”.
Bordering Russia, Norway generally has good relations with its eastern neighbour, although these have been strained since the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014.
In response to the war in Ukraine, Norway, which is not a member of the European Union, has adopted almost the same sanctions against Moscow as the EU.
On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the Norwegian parliament by video conference, asking Oslo for additional arms and to increase its energy supply to Europe and Ukraine in order to reduce reliance on Russian exports.