Norway has announced it would provide an additional 3 billion Norwegian kroner ($340m) this year to strengthen its military forces in the north near the Russian border.
As the northernmost NATO member in Europe, the Nordic country shares a 196-km (120-mile) land border with Russia in the Arctic and a large maritime border in the Barents Sea.
“Even if a Russian attack on Norway is not likely, we must realise that we have a neighbour to the east that has become more dangerous and more unpredictable,” Norwegian defence minister Odd Roger Enoksen told a press conference on Friday, referring to Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
The extra funds will be used to beef up naval presence in the north, intensify training for both soldiers and reservists and increase stocks of ammunition, fuel and equipment.
They will also be used to increase capacity to receive allied troops and strengthen cyberdefence and intelligence.
“We need to increase our presence in the north,” Enoksen said.
“Russia has significant security interests in our region and the north is also of great economic importance to Russia,” he added.
Major naval, air and land manoeuvres are currently under way in Norway in which about 30,000 soldiers from 27 countries, including both NATO members and partners of the military alliance, are taking part.
The exercise Cold Response 2022 is designed to test Norway’s ability to receive allied reinforcements in the event of external aggression.
In addition, the exercise is an opportunity for troops to train for combat in cold weather.