Norway Plans Major Defence Spending Boost In Face Of 'Increasingly Unpredictable' Russia

22 June 2016

The historically pacifist nation, which currently possesses a relatively small defence force, hopes to raise spending by £17billion over 20 years.

Submarines, next-generation F-35 fighter jets and naval surveillance planes are all pencilled onto the Oslo government's wish list if the funding is approved by parliament.

Justifying the increase, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said: "Unfortunately the geopolitical circumstances have changed significantly, in a bad way, in recent years."

Ms Solberg also described Vladimir Putin as an "increasingly unpredictable neighbour to the east".

But the budget will still fall short of Nato's two per cent of GDP requirement for alliance members.

Norway currently spend around 1.5 per cent of its GDP on defence, compared with more than two per cent by the UK and around 3.5 per cent by the US.

Finnmark, an extreme northeastern part of Norway which borders Russia, will see increased border patrols.

The deal would pave the way for the purchase of 52 F-35 fighter jets, four submarines, and new naval surveillance planes to replace six ageing P-3 Orion aircraft.

The proposal also includes the introduction of longer range weapons and a dedicated long-range air defence system.

Norwegian Defence Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide said: "We are looking to strengthen short-term readiness, to invest in future capabilities and to create real long term sustainability.

"We have to ensure that we, along with our allies, have the means to present a credible deterrent against the use of force. This plan enables us to do just that."

Elsewhere in the region, Finland warned that it "cannot exclude" the prospect that Russia would use force against its territory.

Finland's foreign ministry said in a report: "The security policy environment of Finland, a member of the western community, has transformed.

"[There is] a more tense security situation in Europe and the Baltic Sea region.

"The use or threat of military force against Finland cannot be excluded."


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