The security situation in the High North is stable, defense researcher tells Norway Today

Cold Response 22Photo: Geir Olsen / NTB
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The Norwegian-led “Cold Response 2022” military exercise is underway. Soldiers from NATO and partner nations are coming to Norway to participate in the exercise.

The military exercise, which takes place in Norway every second year, will take place in March and April. 

According to the official program, the military activity will mainly take place in the southeastern, central, and northern parts of the country. 

Cold Response 2022 (CR22) will test air, sea, and land military elements, and units from all the branches of the Norwegian Armed Forces are set to participate in the exercise, as well as a number of civilian directorates and organizations.

The exercise has particular importance this year – in the context of the war in Ukraine and the worsening security situation in Europe.

Norway Today reached out to defense researcher and lieutenant colonel Tormor Heier, a professor at the Norwegian Defense University College, to find out more about the expected benefits and risks associated with Cold Response 2022. 

NT: The number of participants in the Norwegian-led military exercise Cold Response is being reduced from 35,000 to 30,000, based on the information available at the time of writing. How do you interpret this decrease in the number of participants?

TH: My interpretation is that force reductions in Cold Response 22 are due to allied commitments elsewhere – particularly in the Baltic Sea region, where Poland and the Baltic allies expect more US presence in order to sustain a credible assurance towards Russia.

NT: Do you anticipate any Russian reaction to the exercise that would go beyond observation efforts?

TH: Yeah, I think it is likely to see increased Russian vigilance, presence, and intelligence activities in the exercise area. This is partly because Russia is more anxious due to the war in Ukraine. But also because Russia may want to signal assertiveness and a robust deterrence in order to keep NATO forces at a proper distance.

NT: How would you assess the importance of CR22 at this point in time? 

TH: Cold Response 22 is particularly important this year. This is because the security situation in Europe is deteriorating. Even though Russia does not have the capacity to escalate the Ukrainian war into the High North, the unpredictability is causing great concern among smaller NATO members on Russia’s rim. 

CR 22 is therefore highly necessary in order to display NATO resolve and commitment on the Northern Flank, partly to energize interoperability among allied forces in the North Atlantic but also to rehearse the crisis management and combat skills required to deter effectively. 

The risk might be that the Cold Response exercise may increase Russian paranoia and anxiousness within the General Staff, the Northern Military District, and the Northern Fleet, which again may increase the risk of misunderstandings and misperceptions about each others’ intentions.

NT: How would you assess the security situation in the High North?

TH: The security situation in the High North is stable. We see no indications of increased Russian war preparations. The Northern Fleet is, of course, on a slightly higher alert, displaying more vigilance and awareness in its own areas of operations. 

But several forces from the Kola Peninsula are deployed to the Ukrainian theatre, which may indicate that Russia is not preparing military operations in the northern region. On the contrary, due to limited military capacity, Russia will not be interested in a horizontal escalation from Eastern Europe up to the Arctic, Heier told Norway Today.

Robin-Ivan Capar is a contributor and editor at Norway Today.

Source: #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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1 Comment on "The security situation in the High North is stable, defense researcher tells Norway Today"

  1. Tormod has high credibility, so if he says things are stable in the North that is indeed reassuring.

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