Robert HARNEIS -TDO-(FRANCE)- Just weeks before meeting Russian officials in the northern city of Kirkenes, to celebrate the former Soviet Union liberation of Finnmark from Nazi German occupation in 1944, Norwegian government officials have made a concession to their neighbors. They will not be installing the US- and NATO-backed missile defense system as previously indicated.
Norway was under pressure by its US and NATO allies to evaluate and accept sensors that would identify any incoming missiles and fire back if necessary. Russia views the US’ missile defense program as a provocation which could be used in an attack.
The Norwegian government announced that even though it’s significantly boosting its defense budget for 2020 because of Russia’s own military activity in the Arctic, it won’t include acquisition of the sensors or anti-ballistic missiles. As newspaper Klassekampen reported this week, the evaluation clearly presented a dilemma for Norway, putting it under pressure between its biggest ally, the US, and its powerful neighbor, Russia. Moscow has also protested about the installation of the missile defense system in both Romania and Poland.
Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, will visit Norway later this month to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Finnmark, when Soviet soldiers crossed occupied Norway’s northern border and drove out the Nazi German occupying forces. Finnmark residents remain grateful and want to stay on good terms with their Russian neighbors. Liberation ceremonies will be attended by King Harald V, Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide.