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For Norway, the potential threats Russia poses to long-term security in the Upper North regions are encapsulated in the government’s 2020-2024 Long-Term Defense Plan (LTDP) for the Norwegian Armed Forces.
Nordic countries are pressing to deepen transatlantic defense collaboration with the United States in the High North, amid fears that conflicting messages from the Trump administration about NATO could lead to a decrease in the alliance’s presence in Northern Europe.
Concern over NATO’s ability to counter possible threats from Russia in the strategic regions of the High North and the Baltic Sea has rekindled the interest of the Nordic countries, led by Sweden, to explore the development of naval, air and military units. rapid response mechanized infantry. Nordic leaders have been tentatively discussing possible common capacity building since 2016. To date, however, few real substantive plans have emerged from cross-border dialogue.
“Nordic defense collaboration continues to evolve. We are looking for new ways to cooperate in practical areas that can improve security in the High North and Baltic Sea areas, ” said Antti Kaikkonen, Finland’s defense minister.
The non-aligned Arctic states, Sweden and Finland, have already held bilateral talks to consider the formation of joint Arctic- specific rapid response brigades and brigades of modular design. The long-term expectation is that neighboring NATO states Denmark and Norway will join the group under the umbrella of the current Nordic Defense Cooperation pact.
Of the four Nordic defense partners, Norway is the most enthusiastic supporter of a greater role for the US forces. and NATO in the northern Arctic.
Faced with the continued expansion of Russia’s defense infrastructure on the Kola Peninsula, coupled with the increase in exercises by multiple branches of the Russian forces closest to its borders , Norway’s immediate response has been to increase spending to strengthen the military readiness and capabilities.
In addition to a strong desire to see the United States play a stronger role in the security of the region, the Nordic governments are also interested in deepening defense cooperation with Germany.
Nordic Defense Ministers held a video conference with German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer on June 18. The meeting focused on key security and defense issues, including regional security and future challenges in maintaining a healthy transatlantic alliance.
“Germany is an important actor and partner not only in Europe, but also in the Baltic Sea region. We share common interests regarding the security situation in Northern Europe. This is a well-developed cooperation that we want to expand, ”said Peter Hultqvist, Sweden’s defense minister.
For Norway, the potential threats Russia poses to long-term security in the Upper North regions are encapsulated in the government’s 2020-2024 Long-Term Defense Plan (LTDP) for the Norwegian Armed Forces, published on 17 September. April. The 123-page document refers to Russia a total of 58 times in the context of posing a military threat and causing instability in theaters in the High North and the Baltic Sea.
The plan aims to combine Norwegian ability to work in association with a strong commitment and presence of the United States and NATO to counter any future threat to Russia’s security in the High North, Norwegian Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen said .
“Norway needs to have a regular and predictable presence in the High North. We want to ensure stability and maintain the influence we have on developing security in our own neighborhood. We are strengthening our military capacity on the one hand and cooperation with NATO and the USA. on the other, ”said Bakke-Jensen.
The LTDP document notes that Russia currently poses a greater threat to regional security than has been the case for several decades. Significantly, the Norwegian government is also busy improving communication channels between Oslo and Moscow to improve its working relationships with Russia’s leaders and senior military commanders.
“The potential of Russia’s military power has changed significantly in recent years. The country’s behavior has become increasingly assertive and adventurous. Russia is prepared and ready to apply a wide spectrum of military and non-military means to achieve its objectives, “concludes the LTDP report.
In practical terms, the plan adds $ 1.73 billion to the budget of the Norwegian Armed Forces, or NAF, over the next 8 years. The extra money will be used for major capital investment programs to boost the overall capacity and firepower of the NAF Northern Brigade based in the Arctic .
Critical acquisitions for the NAF will include new armored combat vehicles and long-range precision weapons. A new mobile unit dedicated to chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear defense will be established.
It is important that Norway’s increased military spending addresses capacity deficiencies in the core areas of the naval force and air defense. To do this, the NAF will add four newly built submarines to its naval fleet by 2030. The Army will upgrade its current NASAMS air defense system with modern sensors and acquire a long-range air defense system to counter threats from ballistic missiles from short range. NAF will also form a new extreme weather maritime special forces unit called the Special Operations Task Force.
In the field of unified Nordic defense, national governments support the expansion of more regular joint training and multi-branch exercises in cooperation with NATO in theaters in the Upper North and the Baltic Sea.
In May, the Swedish JAS 39 Gripen fighters joined the Norwegian F-35s as part of a broader long-range strategic bomber mission that included the American B-1B Lancers from the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth in South Dakota.
The May 20 exercise was notable because it was the first time that the US had long-range strategic bombers. participated in exercises on Swedish airspace. For the Swedish Air Force, the mission included refueling the JAS 39 Gripens from the American KC-135 Stratotankers.
Although not a member of NATO, Sweden signed a host country agreement with NATO in 2014 that allows the Allied Forces to conduct joint training exercises in the country.
“Exercises like these are important. They allow us to demonstrate interoperability and our role as a reliable and relevant partner. The transatlantic liaison and combined exercises with US air units serve to increase our capacity and create security and stability in the Upper North and Baltic Sea regions, ”said Major General Carl-Johan Edström, commander of the Swedish Air Force.
Source: Israel Noticias