Norway boosts defence spending after Russia's attack on Ukraine

Nordic country plans to strengthen naval presence in far north of Europe

Armoured vehicles from Nato's rapid reaction force are stationed in Norway for military exercises. AFP

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Norway on Friday became the latest Nato member to announce it would increase military spending to guard against a hostile Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.

Defence Minister Odd Roger Enoksen said Norway had “a neighbour to the east that has become more dangerous and more unpredictable”.

An extra 3 billion kroner ($342 million) will be used to strengthen Norway’s naval presence in the far north of Europe, intensify training for soldiers and reservists and increase stocks of ammunition, fuel and equipment.

The money will also be used to increase capacity to receive allied troops and strengthen cyber defence and intelligence.

Mr Enoksen said a Russian attack on Norway might be unlikely but that the Kremlin had significant economic and security interests in the region.

Norway, whose former prime minister Jens Stoltenberg is the current secretary-general of Nato, shares a 196-kilometre land border with Russia in the Arctic and a large maritime border in the Barents Sea.

“We need to increase our presence in the north,” Mr Enoksen said.

Germany and Denmark have both moved to increase defence spending since Russia invaded Ukraine, citing a changed security environment.

A Nato defence ministers' summit this week ended with the alliance's top generals given the responsibility of rethinking the bloc's posture, with Mr Stoltenberg calling for more troops and equipment to be stationed in Eastern Europe.

Nato countries have a target of spending 2 per cent of GDP on defence, but many countries including Germany and Norway are currently below that threshold. The US has by far the largest military budget in the alliance.

Updated: March 18, 2022, 2:23 PM
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