Norway eyes Arctic military cooperation with Russia
Russia’s plan to create an Arctic Group of Forces is not a step towards military conflict in the High North and could actually help foster increased co-operation in the region, Norwegian State Secretary for Defence Espen Barth Eide has told Jane’s .
The plan to create the force was announced on 27 March. It would be readily deployable across the vast region and maintain interoperability with the general Russian armed forces, border guard and coast guard. Special ammunition, weaponry and transport would be designed for the ‘freezing temperature’ task force.
Moscow has insisted that it has no intention of militarising the Arctic, saying its goal is to make the area “a zone of peace and co-operation”. This view was endorsed by Barth Eide, who said Norway was “not concerned”. He pointed to the increasing military investment of other Arctic countries, including Norway, and said this was “logical”, given the potential for oil and gas reserves and dramatically shortened transport routes.
“I don’t think an increased military presence needs to increase tensions if the interested parties are informed. Indeed, it can have the opposite effect,” he said. “During the Cold War, for example, good intelligence was important to promote peace, as it could tell you what another country was not doing as well as what it was doing.”