Head of the Norwegian Intelligence Service General Lieutenant Kjell Grandhagen presenting the annual open report "FOKUS-2015".(Photo: Torbjørn Kjosvold / Forsvarets mediesenter)
Although Russia is increasing its capacities, there are no rational reasons for enhanced Russian military activity directed against Norway in a short to medium-term perspective. But there is considerable uncertainty connected to the country’s long-term development, the Norwegian Intelligence Service says.
“Threat is a combination of two factors; capacity and intention. Although capacity is increasing, it is difficult for the time being to see a rational reason for Russian military activity against Norway in a short to medium-term perspective”, head of the Norwegian Intelligence Service (NIS) General Lieutenant Kjell Grandhagen said in a speech on Thursday, when the NIS published its annual open threat evaluation, “FOKUS-2015”.
“But intentions can change over time, and it is therefore now increasingly important for Norway to follow Russia’s long-term political, economic and military development,” Grandhagen added.
“There is today considerable uncertainty about Russia’s long-term development. The country’s economy is in a serious crisis, and there is an ongoing authoritarian tightening of domestic politics. Propaganda draws an external enemy image to unite the population, and national patriotism is becoming a new state ideology.”
Grandhagen said that Russia’s annexation of Crimea and military operations in Eastern Ukraine in 2014 is a breach on international law, and represents a significant change of the security situation in Europe. “It shows a Russia that acts more aggressively and has a clear willingness to use force against neighboring countries. Russian authorities want to restore Russia as a super power and enforce the international respect they have longed for.”
“2014 was a very hectic year for the NIS, and the entrance of 2015 is characterized by several serious trends in security policy that will be the focus of the intelligence service’s further work,” he said.
The report describes the NIS’ evaluation of status and expected development within geographic and thematic areas the service considers to be of special relevance to Norwegian security and national interests. The Arctic and Russia are still the NIS’ main focus area, but the international development and Norway’s involvement in different parts of the world have expanded NIS’ areas of interest to include the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
“I think it is very positive that the NIS is as open as it can”, Norway’s Minister of Defense Ine Søreide Eriksen said at the publication on Thursday. “Openness is important for the public’s confidence in the secret services and it is important for the public debate.” This is the fifth time NIS publishes a non-classified threat evaluation.