Late last year, the Nordic country hosted Trident Juncture-18, the NATO alliance’s largest drills in recent memory, with 31 countries contributing some 50,000 troops, 10,000 military vehicles, and dozens of warships and combat aircraft, including a US carrier group.
Norwegian Defence Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen has warned that a conflict in the European continent is no longer outside the realms of possibility, and accused Russia of taking the lion’s share of the blame.
“By and large, the developments in our surroundings illustrate that we have to take into account that armed conflict between states in Europe is no longer unthinkable,” Bakke-Jenson said in a New Year’s address delivered on Sunday to the Norwegian Military Society.
“Concern number one is Russia. We see a more clear kind of seriousness connected with our neighbor in the East,” the defence minister added.
Accusing Russia of “deliberately” seeking to “degrade and undermine Western unity and international cooperation,” Bakke-Jenson said that Moscow has had a confrontational attitude towards the West since the 2014 Ukrainian crisis and the “annexation” of Crimea.
“These changes in behaviour directly affect Norwegian and allied security,” he suggested.
Mentioning Russia over two dozen times in his speech, Bakke-Jensen also turned to China, accusing the Asian superpower of “challenging the US position of leadership globally,” and warning that together, in some regions, China and Russia…