As the Arctic opens to global activity, its importance in the geopolitical struggle between NATO and Russia continues to grow. Norway is in a unique position in this relationship, with one of the few direct borders between a NATO member state and Russia. Norway’s relations with Russia are understandably complex, with deep economic ties and a history of regional cooperation, but also mutual suspicion and elevated concern. Norwegian State Secretary Audun Halvorsen joined us for a conversation on the state of Norwegian-Russian relations and their future trajectory.
“As a small European country bordering Russia, but of course firmly grounded in the Western community of values and interests, at least as a founding member of NATO going back to 1949, it is obvious that the relationship is a key factor in Norway’s foreign, security, and defense policy and very high on any Norwegian government’s agenda, and it is a relationship that needs to be managed in good times and in challenging times and in a way that contributes to stability and predictability in the region.”
“Our decision in 1949 to be among the founding nations of the alliance placed us firmly in the Western camp of democracies and embracing a policy of collective defense against the Soviet Union that presented a military challenge. And after the thaw, through the 1990s and early 2000s, the recent years have unfortunately returned us to a situation marked by suspicion and a lack of trust and we see, as you all know, today’s Russian leadership regards NATO as a challenge, it continues to act in ways that are contrary to our security interests and the interests of our closest allies. This is obviously shaping our Russia policy today.”