Closer military cooperation between Norway and Russia

Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen is the first Norwegian Minister of Defense in ten years to visit Russia. Here with her Russian colleague Sergey Shoygu. (Photo: Marita Wangberg, FD)

Norway and Russia have agreed to expand military cooperation and are preparing a joint security agreement on exchange of classified information. The two countries’ ministers of defense met in Moscow yesterday.


“The good military cooperation with Russian in the north is important for Norway. It contributes to build trust and understanding”, Norway’s Minister of Defense Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen said after a meeting in Moscow with her Russian colleague Sergey Shoygu.

As BarentsObserver reported, she is the first Norwegian Minister of Defense to visit Russian in ten years.

The two ministers agreed to develop cooperation further and to have more joint military exercises, both in Norway and in Russia. 

Norway and Russia have for many years had joint naval exercises, with POMOR being the largest. Experiences from this exercise will now be used to develop joint drills also for land and air forces. An agreement on personnel exchange and official visits between Brigade Nord -  Norway’s only army brigade, and the 200. motorized infantry brigade in Pechenga have already been concluded. According to Strøm-Erichsen these units will meet in 2013 to discuss possibilities for joint drills or trainings. 

The Norwegian Ministry of Defense is now working on a security agreement that will establish procedures for exchange of both military and civilian information between the two countries. -The agreement will not imply any duty to inform, but will make it easier to exchange information, said Strøm- Erichsen, the ministry’s web site reads.

High North on the agenda
The High North was high on the agenda when Strøm-Erichsen and Shoygu met. Cooperation with Russian on this field will only become more important for Norway in the years to come:

“It is in both countries’ interest to maintain a stable situation in the north and secure the management of the large marine resources”, Strøm-Erichsen says. “Development in the High North goes very fast. Climate changes and ice melt have made shipping possible in areas that used to be accessible only a short period every summer. More access and new technologies make it easier to exploit large reserves of oil and gas. This creates both possibilities and challenges and demands a close cooperation in order both to secure safety at sea and protection of the vulnerable environment.”

Shoygu to visit Norway
During the meeting in Moscow Sergey Shoygu accepted an official invitation to visit Oslo. This visit will take part in the near future, Rossiyskaya Gazeta writes. 

Read the Barents Review 2012 chapter Military cooperation in the High North

Photos from the POMOR-2012 exercise: