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Norway abandons US missile defense programme

A Norwegian newspaper reported this week that the country will not be buying into the US- and NATO-backed missile defense programme.

Published: October 13, 2019, 10:11 am

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    Oslo

    After the Norwegian government’s “broader security policy evaluation,” it announced that it won’t include the acquisition of US sensors or anti-ballistic missiles, the newspaper Klassekampen reported this week.

    Norway will however be significantly boosting its defense budget for 2020 because enhanced military activity in the Arctic.

    Ahead of a meeting between Russian and Norwegian officials in the northern city of Kirkenes, to celebrate how the former Soviet Union liberated Finnmark from Nazi German occupation in 1944, Norwegian government officials made the concession to their neighbours.

    Norway was being pressured by the US and NATO to evaluate and accept interceptors that would identify any incoming missiles with a response, but the Russian Federation believes the American missile defense program is being used as a provocation.

    The evaluation clearly presented a dilemma for Norway, which found itself in an increasing squeeze between its biggest ally – the US – and its neighbour to the north, Russia. The missile defense system will be installed in both Romania and Poland, leading Eastern European efforts to boost air and anti-missile defense capabilities.

    The two countries have been closely cooperating with NATO to host the US-made weaponry. Poland could obtain Patriot missiles by 2022 as Warsaw aims to strengthen ties with the US as part of the country’s ongoing $36 billion 2013-2022 military modernization programme.

    In April 2015, the Polish Ministry of Defense said it had chosen Raytheon’s Patriot over the Aster 30 interceptor manufactured by the consortium of MBDA and Thales.

    Both Poland and Romania will also be hosting elements of the Aegis Ashore program, the land-based component of the US Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) system.

    “The land-based system is designed to be removable to support worldwide deployment. In addition to Aegis BMD at sea, Aegis Ashore is part of Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA) Phases II and III,” according to the US Missile Defense Agency’s website.

    In Romania, Aegis Ashore will be deployed at the air base in Deveselu in southwestern Romania.

    Russia’s foreign minister will visit Norway later this month to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Finnmark, when Soviet soldiers crossed occupied Norway’s northern border and forced Nazi German forces into retreat.

    Finnmark residents remain grateful and want to stay on good terms with their Russian neighbours. Liberation ceremonies will be attended by King Harald V, Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide.

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