Norway Considers Sending Heavy Arms to Ukraine, Supports Neighbours' NATO Bid
Whereas Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr StÃ¸re described donating arms to a warring party as a "new experience" for the country, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called Western weapons deliveries to Ukraine "pouring oil on the fire", warning that the shipments would become a "legitimate target" for Russian forces.
Assessments are being made of sending heavier weapons to Ukraine, in addition to those already dispatched, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr StÃ¸re has announced in parliament.
According to StÃ¸re, Norway's previous arms deliveries have arrived in Ukraine. Among other things, Norway has donated 4,000 M72 type anti-aircraft missiles and around 100 Mistral anti-aircraft missiles.
While describing donating arms to a warring country as "a new experience for Norway", StÃ¸re suggested that in the future Ukraine will need heavier and more advanced weapon systems.
"Further direct donations of heavier weapons from Norway to Ukraine are for ongoing assessment and implementation. For safety reasons, we do not discuss such support publicly until the deliveries are in place," StÃ¸re said, as quoted by the newspaper Dagbladet.
The Norwegian government also pledged to allocate NOK 400 million ($43 million) to a UK-led fund for the purchase of weapons and military equipment for Ukraine.
"This gives Norway the opportunity to support Ukraine with materiel that the Norwegian defence itself does not have, or which would weaken Norwegian defence capabilities," StÃ¸re said.
StÃ¸re also suggested that the ongoing conflict in Ukraine has repercussions for the security situation in Norway's immediate vicinity, and that Finnish and Swedish NATO membership is a very relevant topic.
"There are rapid, but thorough processes in both our two neighbouring countries, to prepare for what could be epoch-making changes for Nordic and European security policy," StÃ¸re said, stressing "close and ongoing contacts with the two countries". "Our message has been clear: Should they decide on NATO membership, they will have Norway's full support."
Russia launched its special military operation in Ukraine on 24 February, with the idea to "demilitarise and de-Nazify" the country, which has long pursued membership in the NATO alliance. Even before Kiev intensified its eight-year-long war against the Russian-speaking breakaway republics of the Donbass region following months of failed negotiations, Moscow insisted that any move by Ukraine to join NATO, or the alliance positioning offensive arms in Ukraine near the Russian border, would be seen as crossing a 'red line'.
Since the start of the conflict, Ukraine has enjoyed increasing arms deliveries from across the Western world, ranging from its immediate neighbours such as Poland to distant nations like Australia and Canada. Following pressure from abroad and within, Germany recently announced it would send tanks to Ukraine in a major U-turn by Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Commenting on Western arms deliveries to Ukraine, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has described them as "pouring oil on the fire". He also warned that NATO is "in essence at war" with Moscow, adding that the shipments to Kiev would be a "legitimate target" for Russian forces.
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