'Most serious situation in decades': Norway raises military alert level
Norway will raise its military readiness, its prime minister said on Monday, stressing however that no direct threat had been detected.
Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said that the background for the security tightening was Russia's aggression in Ukraine and the security policy situation the war has led to in Europe.
"The military will as of tomorrow raise its preparedness in Norway," Støre said. We are in the most serious security policy situation in decades."
Støre said that whilst there was no direct threat against Norway, Russia the country, which is a member of Nato and shares a border with Russia, must be prepared.
"There are no indications that Russia will expand its warfare to other countries, but the increased tension means that we are more exposed to threats, intelligence, and influence. That makes it necessary for all Nato countries to be more vigilant, including Norway," Støre said at a press conference on Monday afternoon.
The government strengthened readiness even before the war broke out and has since bolstered it several times.
In recent weeks, the Norwegian Defense Forces have increased their presence and patrols around critical infrastructure in the North Sea. Furthermore, the Home Guard is protecting critical infrastructure on land to assist the police.
'No reason to believe that Russia will want to invade Norway'
The Prime Minister added that he does not think Russia will involve Norway directly in the war.
"There is no reason to expect that Russia will involve Norway directly in the war, but we must be more vigilant," he said, adding that there are no specific incidents that have led the government to increase the preparedness level.
At the same time, Støre stressed that the threat outlook was serious. Among other things, he pointed to drone observations and the gas pipeline explosions in the Baltic Sea.
"We are doing this to ensure Norway is well prepared and able to act… Our most important task is to secure Norway and everyone who lives here. We are doing what is necessary to preserve the security of our country," he said.
No major changes for regular people
The Prime Minister does not believe that people will experience major changes in their lives as a result of the increased preparedness.
"I don't think people will see big changes due to this (security tightening) in their everyday lives. It revolves around our military apparatus, personnel, and how they set up their operations," Støre told a TV 2 reporter.
"It will be visible along the coast and at the on-land facilities where there is now a Home Guard presence. You might also see the military in connection with transfers and exercises… But as I said, I don't think this will be a very visible element in everyday life," he concluded.
Norway has already raised security around its strategic sites after mysterious drone flights were observed near its offshore oil and gas platforms and the suspected sabotage of Nord Stream's Baltic Sea pipelines.
In recent weeks, several Russians have been arrested in Norway for illegally flying drones in its airspace or violating photo restrictions in restricted areas.
Last week, Norway's counter-intelligence service also announced the arrest of a man suspected of being a Russian undercover agent, who according to experts could be a senior officer from the GRU military intelligence service.
Defence Minister Bjorn Arild Gram meanwhile said the increased military preparedness would include measures related to logistics, communications security and security at military installations.
Amid rising tensions between Russia and the West, Norway has already boosted its military budget and intelligence efforts in Northern Norway, where it shares a 198-kilometre (123-mile) border with Russia.