Norway must deal with a Russia with a totally different military force than before. As Vladimir Putin flexes the muscles mostly for the home crowd, says Erna Solberg.
– Putin’s power is built on military power, the Prime Minister said.
She thinks Norway today meets a Russia with a totally different capacity than just a few years ago. But she does not think NATO’s own force built up in east will make the situation worse.
– Visible, symbolic military force is part of Russia’s pride. Especially in economic downturns it is important to them to have something else to be proud of. I do not think what we do will affect this, Solberg said.
Friday this week the member countries of NATO gather in Poland. Their relations with Russia will be one of the dominant issues, and the alliance is now preparing to send four new battalions eastwards to draw a “red line” against the Russians.
At NATO headquarters in Brussels yesterday diplomats now wait for Russia to come with countermoves. Solberg still thinks it is mostly talk on the Russian side.
– Russia always responds rhetorically on such changes, and we must be prepared, she says.
– Must think differently
According to Solberg the threat from Russia is bigger than it has been previously and she is not going to hide the fact.
– It means that we must think differently. Not because we think Russia is going to attack us, but because we need to plan for any given conflict situation that might come, she says.
NATO explained strengthening reconstruction in the east with the Russian annexation of Crimea and support for rebels in eastern Ukraine have helped to make the world a “more dangerous place.” Politicians in several European countries warn against provoking the Russians too much and want instead a normalization of relations.
If the peace agreement for Ukraine is followed up, such a normalization is possible, says Solberg.
– It will not go back to the way it was, because there it is a more unpredictable Russia we have now. But it can be a Russia that is easier to relate to, she says.
Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today