Newsletter: The Nordics are Re-Arming

Sveriges statsminister Magdalena Andersson var med på å kjøre stridsvogn under besøket av svenske soldater på Cold Response 2022. (Foto: Torbjørn Kjosvold/Forsvaret).
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson was involved in driving tanks during the visit to Cold Response 2022. (Photo: Torbjørn Kjosvold / Forsvaret).

Dear reader! Along the Finnish border to Russia, worries are growing over the powerful neighbor to the East. NATO membership is currently a hotter topic than ever in both Sweden and Finland.

“30 years’ developing of Norwegian neighborhood policy towards Russia has changed. That will affect our High North policy”, Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt announced when addressing the Norwegian parliament Stortinget on Tuesday.

She referred to the war as a turning point that will change the framework for Norwegian foreign and security policy, and that goes for the rest of the Nordic countries too.

During his visit to the NATO exercise Cold Response in Bardufoss, Norway on Friday, NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned against increased Russian and Chinese activity in the High North. (Norwegian only).

In Sweden and Finland, the NATO issue is currently very hot. When visiting Northern Norway and the Cold Response exercise, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson (A) as well as opposition leader Ulf Kristersson (M) were clear about their not being neutral in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Increasing worries

Our Editor-in-Chief Arne O. Holm has once again embarked on a new season of the High North Tour, this time one in which he follows the Russian border. This week, he parked in Finnish Lapland, where inhabitants feel a growing sense of worry over its Eastern neighbor.

Inari Mayor Toni K. Leine nods with recognition when I tell him that I have met people on my journey who fear that the war will hit Finland too”, Holm writes in this week’s commentary.

“However, most of them are probably not afraid, but very worried.”

For the past week, the Norwegian Coast Guard has observed increased Russian activity in the High North, which is not unusual, according to the Norwegian Armed Forces – in particular not in times with large military exercises in Norway.

And the Norwegian Government Proposes NOK 3 Billion to the Armed Forces:

“This is necessary because we are facing a more unpredictable and aggressive Russian regime – our neighbor country. This will have consequences for both Norwegian and Allied security”, says Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre (Labor).

Strong opinions

This week in the Arctic also offers some interesting opinions and insights.

Alexandra Middleton has a very current analysis of India’s Arctic strategy.

And Dr Sian Prior encourages cutting carbon emissions in shipping to save the Arctic.

When we now are about to enter the final March weekend, the war in Ukraine has lasted for four weeks. We at High North News continues monitoring the development and report on consequences for the High North and the people living here.

The HNN mobile office with our Editor-in-Chief behind the steering wheel keeps rolling on along the Russian border, and do feel free to tip us off about places Holm and his mobile office can and should visit.

Kind regards,
Trine Jonassen,
News Editor, High North News