Open Norwegian-Russian Dialogue about Cold Response 2022
The Russian Northern Fleet was during a video conference last week informed by the Norwegian Armed Forces about the upcoming large-scale winter exercise Cold Response 2022. The meeting happened following a Norwegian initiative, based on a desire about transparent dialogue and preventing potential misunderstandings.
Last Thursday, Chief of the Russian Northern Fleet Admiral Alexander Moyseyev and the Chief of the Norwegian Joint Operation Headquarters Lieutenant-General Yngve Odlo met via Skype, according to a press release from the Norwegian Armed Forces. Odlo then informed his Russian counterpart about the upcoming large-scale Norwegian-led winter exercise Cold Response 2022.
This will be the largest military Norwegian-led exercise since the Cold War. 23 NATO countries have confirmed their participation, as have the partnership countries Finland and Sweden. The exercise, which will take place in March and April, will include a total of 35,000 soldiers from a total of 26 countries, Norway included. The majority of the exercise activity will take place in Northern Norway.
The time leading up to the exercise is characterized by major security policy turbulence between Russia and the West in light of the Ukraine conflict, and participant figures will thus be dynamic.
The tense situation also forms an overall frame for Norwegian-Russian dialogue in the North.
The meeting with the Northern Fleet took place based on a Norwegian initiative. This is rooted in a desire to have an open dialogue about practical issues related to the exercise, as well as in wanting to prevent potential misinterpretations, the Norwegian Armed Forces state.
“We want to be transparent towards our neighboring countries to avoid potential misunderstandings related to the exercise”, says spokesperson at the Joint Operation Headquarters (FOH) Preben Aursand to High North News.
The risk for dangerous misinterpretations between NATO and Russia related to military activity and due to flawed dialogue is exactly what Senior Researchers Julie Wilhelmsen at the Norwegian Institute for Foreign Affairs (NUPI) has pointed out repeatedly in recent years.
Last week, Wilhelmsen also commented on the current tension between the Alliance and Russia with relation to the Arctic in an interview with High North News.
Appreciated in Russia
During the video conference, Admiral Moyseyev allegedly expressed that he values the communication of information from the Norwegian side, and that he would be happy to see good and transparent military contact between the two countries also in the future.
Military leaders Moyseyev and Odlo have kept in touch ever since NATO put on hold all practical military cooperation with Russia in light of the annexation of the Crimea in 2014, according to the Barents Observer.
We want to be transparent towards our neighboring countries
Good exchange of information between Norway and Russia related to major exercises like the Cold Response series has also been important before, says Aursand at FOH.
Russia has previously, like all other member states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), been informed by Norway about the upcoming exercise and has also been invited to observe Cold Response 2022. This is in accordance with the Vienna Document, an agreement between OSCE states about confidence-building measures in the military area.
Norway’s adhering to these regulations of the Vienna Document was stressed by Lieutenant-General Odlo during the meeting. He also welcomed Russian observers to Norway during the exercise withing this framework.
Observers from OSCE countries will have the opportunity to visit both northern and southern forces, according to the Norwegian Armed Forces. These forces include all brigades an many of their subdivisions.
This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by HNN's Elisabeth Bergquist.