High investments for better border control

PASVIK VALLEY: Norwegian Minister of Defence Ine Eriksen Søreide opens a brand new € 17 million border station, as Norway’s military cooperation with the Russian neighbour is put on hold.


When Norway’s Minister of Defence Ine Eriksen Søreide cut the ribbon and declared the new border station for opened, she did not only open the door to a new building. It marks a total change of the Norwegian border control. In a € 17 million investment three smaller borders stations are replaced with one large stations in modern architect design and equipped with top technology on all levels.

In 2016 another station will be finished further north along the border line, and thus finishing the reorganization of the Norwegian border control

Best conscripts
“Norway’s most popular military service has just grown to be even more attractive, and will attract even more well fitted youth to the Norwegian-Russian border”, said head of Norway’s Joint Command Headquarters General Lieutenant Morten Haga Lunde.

They were all there; the high ranking officers of the Norwegian Armed Forces celebrating this important day for the new border control. In the middle of all the generals sat Foreign Minister Søreide and was told how this new building is going to change the entire structure of the border control.

“The structural changes of the border guard will give us a far better flexibility in solving our task than earlier”, the new head of Pasvik Border Station, Captain Lars Einar Kjøren, explained.

Three units with three leaders have now become one large unit, gathering 92 soldiers and 18 officers and three dog patrols at one place. This gives Kjøren the opportunity to have one unit out on patrol along the border, one unit in camp on training and one unit on leave. This is according to Kjøren a perfect rotation of his resources and the end result will be a better control of the border line.

No Russian representative
However, there were no representatives from the Russian border authorities to celebrate the opening. A year or two ago that would have been likely. Over the last decade the Norwegian-Russian cooperation on border control has evolved every year with better communication, joint exercises and mutual openness on information and equipment. Due to the Russian annexation of Crimea, Norway has suspended the bilateral military cooperation with Russia.

This has also affected the relations on the Norwegian - Russian border. In march the Norwegian Ministry of Defense cancelled the annual personnel exchange between the border guard service in Nikel, Russia, and the border guard at Sør-Varanger Garrison.

“This is not part of the ordinary border surveillance and will therefore be cancelled”, a spokesperson in the Defense Ministry said to BarentsObserver in March.

Normal communication
Minister Søreide says to BarentsObserver that she has no worries that the Crimea crisis will have any huge impact on Norwegian-Russian border control in the near future.

“In my opinion we have a good cooperation, with normal communication with Russia where it is needed. It is important to stress that all cooperation connected to the border control, the coast guard and for search and rescue operations are not affected by the suspension”, says Søreide.

The bilateral military cooperation was first suspended until May, but the government has recently decided to prolong this suspension until January 2015.

“We follow the developments very closely and follow the same line as the other allied nations regarding the relations to Russia, says Søreide.