The Norwegian Ministry of Defence confirms that it is expanding its suspension of militar cooperation with Russia.
”Following the illegal annexation of the Crimea, Russia has contributed to a further destabilization of the situation in Ukraine”, Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide says in a press release. ”Based on an evaluation of the situation in Ukraine and Russian conduct, the Government has decided to prolong the suspension of all bilateral military activities until the end of 2014”, Søreide adds. As previously reported, Norway in March announced that is was cutting its military relations with the Russians until May.
However, Norway will continue to nurse relations with the Russians within the fields of the Coast Guard, the Border Guard and search and rescue, the ministry says.
The country will also continue to follow up contact between its Joint Headquarters and the Northern Fleet, Russia’s powerful navy unit based in the Kola Peninsula. ”This is important in order to meet security requirements of all parts in northern waters and to promote stability and predictability in our neigborhood areas”, the ministry states.
With the continued ban on cooperation, a total of 15 planned bilateral events are being cancelled or postponed, among them a visit from the Head Commander of the Russian Armed Forces.
Minister Eriksen Søreide does not, however, intend to cancel joint activities related to the upcoming 70-years anniversary of the Soviet liberation of the Norwegian Finnmark County. ”There is a clear difference between military cooperation and contact in today’s situation and the activities related to historical events and issues of veterans”, she argues.
It remains unclear however, whether Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov will attend the anniversary celebrations. Norway invited Mr. Lavrov to Norway in connection with the celebrations. But that was before the crisis in Ukraine.