| 21 September 2023, Thursday |

Russian forces near Norway at ‘20% or less’ than before Ukraine war, Norway’s armed-forces chief says

Russian forces stationed near Norway in the Arctic are “20% or less” of what they were before the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Norway’s military director said on Saturday.

Norway is a NATO member with an Arctic border with Russia. The Nordic country borders the Kola Peninsula, which houses the majority of Russia’s nuclear weapons as well as the Northern Fleet, which operates the country’s nuclear submarines.

General Eirik Kristoffersen stated following a meeting of NATO military commanders in Oslo that Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized “very well” that NATO was not a danger to Russia.

“On our border, on the Russian border, there are probably 20% fewer (Russian) forces than there used to be.”

“If he believed that we were threatening Russia, he couldn’t have moved on his troops to Ukraine to fight the war there.”

That pattern of Russian behavior applies as well to how it has treated neighboring Finland after it joined NATO in April, added Admiral Rob Bauer, chair of NATO’s military committee.

Finland and Russia share a 1,300 km (810 mile) border, with Russian forces along the border, as with Norway, reduced from pre-war levels.

“Russia understands that NATO is not a threat because we do not intend to attack them.” Otherwise, they would have reacted quite differently to Finland’s entrance,” Bauer said at the conference.

“They’ve talked about it, but not in physical terms.”

  • Reuters