Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre (Ap) met the press on Friday afternoon. Photo: Annika Byrde/NTB
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Friday that Russia is annexing four occupied regions of Ukraine. At a ceremony in Moscow, he signed the agreement with the four leaders that Russia has installed in the regions. Photo: Sputnik/AP/NTB
Diplomacy is in full swing after the alleged sabotage of Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea earlier this week. Photo: AP/NTB
Norwegian authorities have accepted contributions from Germany, France and Great Britain to increase the presence in Norwegian waters. Defense is responsible for coordination.
– We have good expertise and good monitoring capacity on the Norwegian continental shelf. But it is clear, these are large maritime areas. It is a security for Norway to illustrate that we have the support of allies and partners, Støre tells NTB.
It is not known when the German, French and British contributions will arrive in Norwegian waters. Foreign contributions are coordinated by the Norwegian Defense Forces, Støre explains.
– Whether it’s in the form of exercises or whether you sail together, I don’t know. The Coast Guard is there, our patrols are there, and that’s a good place to start,” he said.
Støre says it is now important to act calmly and not with thoughtless actions.
– I understand that people are anxious. Russia behaves in a threatening manner and violates important principles. Then, I am concerned that we are united on the values that are important to us. It gives a lot of strength. We are democracies, we emphasize international law. We have strong allies, and our allies are Norway. This unity gives us security. Now we must act firmly and calmly. Now is not the time to act one way or the other.
Unknown drones in Norwegian waters
The increased presence comes as a result of Nord Stream leaks, which were apparently caused by a sabotage attack. Recently, a number of different drones have also been observed on the Norwegian continental shelf and at Norwegian facilities.
Equinor and several other oil and gas companies have raised the level of preparedness due to the situation.
There are no direct threats to Norwegian oil and gas facilities, Støre points out. He adds that a number of measures have been introduced, both on the military and civilian side. On Saturday, he will visit the Sleipner oil platform in the North Sea near Stavanger.
– I will receive briefings and meet employees on the platform. There are a lot of them and they are important, Støre said.
Condemns the annexation of Russia
In a speech earlier on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that the four disputed counties are now part of Russia and that attacks against them will be seen as targeting Russia itself.
– The annexation of the four regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhya is without legitimacy. The so-called referendums were held under military occupation and are in violation of international law, Støre said.
Støre says Norway condemns annexation in the strongest terms, as NATO, the EU and Western leaders have also done.
Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt also underlines in a press release referendums have no legal value.
– Claim without significance
Putin has blamed the West for what is likely a sabotage attack on Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea. When asked if Støre fears that Putin will use this as a basis for retaliation, the Prime Minister replies:
– We have to write down what President Putin says, and then we have to analyze it. In my opinion, this is a meaningless assertion, says Støre.
He believes that these days Russia is trying to divert attention Russia is trying to divert attention from the war. However, they did not succeed, says Støre.
– Norway and our allies continue political, economic and military support for Ukraine.
On Friday, the government announced that an additional NOK 3 billion had been set aside for military support to Ukraine.
Sweden summons Russian ambassador
The Russian ambassador to Sweden will be summoned to the carpet in Stockholm as part of the annexation of Ukrainian regions, Swedish authorities announced on Friday.
Støre won’t say if something similar will be relevant in Oslo.
– We do not comment on this type of dialogue except that the Russian authorities have received a clear message from us on how we assess the situation, he told NTB.
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