"We are acting professionally towards each other and are not experiencing any aggression or irregularities after the war in Ukraine broke out," says the acting head of the Norwegian Naval Fleet.
The Norwegian frigate KNM "Thor Heyerdahl" recently patrolled the Barents Sea together with allied marine vessels. The British frigate HMS "Northumberland" and the British logistics vessel RFA "Tiderace" also participated in the operation, which took place in the southern Barents Sea.
The allied marine forces were closely shadowed by Russian navy vessels, according to the Norwegian Armed Forces. The cooperation with the Russian vessels is said to have been professional and routine.
"In the same way that we are keeping a close eye on Russian activity in our immediate areas, they will look out for allied activities in their immediate areas. That is expected and completely normal," says Captain Pål Gudbrandsen, functioning head of the Norwegian Naval Fleet, in a press release.
"We are acting professionally towards each other and are not experiencing any aggression or irregularities after the war in Ukraine broke out. We get along as professional sailors, nothing more, nothing less," adds the Captain.
A calming effect
The patrol took place in international waters, outside both Norwegian and Russian territorial waters in September. Gudbrandsen specifies that the Norwegian presence with allies is building security and stability.
"We are the ones who are most familiar with operating this far north and this close to Russian vessels. That we are sharing our knowledge about the High North and Russia with them has a calming effect, something which contributes to increased security and stability in the High North," says the Captain.
In May 2020, surface ships from the US Navy operated in the Barents Sea for the first time since the 1980s in a British-American exercise. Norway chose to not participate. During the fall of the same year, however, ships from the Royal Navy patrolled together with Norwegian and American vessels in the Barents Sea.
"It was brought up by several people that Norway did not participate in the American-British exercise in May. And now they [the Norwegian Armed Forces, journ.note] have decided that it is important to have Norwegian participation in exercises that are carried out in Norwegian immediate areas," said Senior Researcher Julie Wilhelmsen at NUPI in an earlier interview with High North News about Norway wanting to highlight its defense skills in the High North in the fall of 2021.
In an interview with HNN, State Secretary Bent Joacim Bentzen (Center) pointed out that Norway benefits from participating in allied voyages that are taking place in international waters in the High North.
This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by Birgitte Annie Molid Martinussen.