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Norway raises army alert level in response to Ukraine war

October 31, 2022

The Norwegian armed forces will do less training and more active operations, the country's prime minister said. Oslo is concerned about sabotage to its energy infrastructure.

A Norwegian solider posted near a natural gas plant
Soldiers have been called out to protect natural gas plantsImage: Carina Johansen/NTB/picture alliance

Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said on Monday that his country's military would be put on a raised level of alert as part of increased security measures in response to the war in Ukraine.

"This is the most severe security situation in several decades," Stoere told a press conference

"There are no indications that Russia is expanding its warfare to other countries, but the increased tensions make us more exposed to threats, intelligence operations and influence campaigns."

The increased alert level would be valid from Tuesday.

Defense Minister Bjoern Arild Gram said this decision means that the military will spend less time training and more time on active duty. Norway's Home Guard, a rapid mobilization force, will also have a stronger presence.

General Eirik Kristoffersen, the head of the armed forces, said that Norway had dropped out of planned drills in the United States with its F-35 aircraft, preferring to keep the planes closer to home for the time being.

Norwegian energy infrastructure a potential target

Norway has taken on increased importance on the European continent in recent months. Although it is not a member of the European Union, it has become a large vendor of natural gas to member states trying to wean themselves off of a Russian energy supply in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

Norwegian natural gas now accounts for around a quarter of all EU imports.

Last week, Norway's domestic security agency arrested a supposed academic accused of being a Russian spy. Oslo has said that following explosions that damaged the Nord Stream pipelines that bring Russian gas to Europe, it fears that its gas pipelines could also be targets of sabotage.

Several Russians believed to have been flying drones over Norwegian energy infrastructure have also been detained in recent weeks.

Can Norwegian gas save Europe?

es/dj (AFP, Reuters)