OSLO, Norway – After partially dismantling its defenses to the north in 1990, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Norway now aims to re-establish strategic presence in the region in the face of increasing tension between NATO and Russia.
Norway’s defense minister plans to invest about 2.5 billion Norwegian kronor (around $3 billion) in the reconstruction and expansion of military facilities in the far north.
“Our mission is to establish a presence,” said the leader of the new Finnmark Land Defense unit, Colonel Jorn Erik Berntsen.
“We will be there to discourage [any likely invaders] and to defend ourselves against any threat,” the colonel emphasized without naming a potential threat, according to the Klassekampen newspaper.
The investment should be applied by Norway in the northern and eastern region of Finnmark, a border region with Finland and Russia. The idea is to position more than 500 soldiers in Porsangermoen. The area, which has already been used as summer camp and for military maneuvers, should win a new life.
The country’s defense plans to move about 1.5 billion Norwegian kroners in Porsanger, including 500 million Norwegian kronor in the construction of housing for its military. The first 150 soldiers will be integrated into the site by the end of the month.
Previously, the Porsanger region had approximately 1,500 soldiers, however, with the end of the Cold War, the Norwegians gradually reduced their numbers in the region. Now Oslo plans to rebuild some new facilities and demolish others, and build facilities for its soldiers, training facilities and modern accommodations.
Norway is investing in the region and an example of this is the deployment of two new stations and the electronic surveillance system in the region bordering Russia.
It is noteworthy that the relationship between Russia and Norway is being hampered by the growth of the US military presence in Norway, where 330 US Marines are housed, in addition, the Norwegian government intends to raise the number of US Marines there.
This comes as Norway aims to serve as a bulwark in the Arctic against Russian dominance, but it has nowhere near the means or capabilities to serve as NATO’s hound dog against a resurgent Russia.