UK Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace will travel to meet Norwegian Minister of Defence Odd Roger Enoksen today.
The bilateral meeting comes toward the end of the NATO Cold Response 2022 military exercises taking place in Norway. Cold Response is a biannual NATO exercise that tests the air, land and sea capabilities of NATO members in arctic conditions. The two officials will visit troops in the country’s northern Sør-Varanger area.
The military exercises were scheduled well before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and therefore do not have the primary intent of provoking Russia in the Arctic region. Still, NATO’s activity, coupled with the organization’s unity, will surely be a source of concern to Russia’s security interests in the Arctic region.
Expect the bilateral meeting to focus primarily on enhancing troop readiness and military capabilities in the Arctic. The UK and Norway’s response to Russia’s invasion have mirrored each other in terms of diplomatically supporting Ukraine and sending aid and both lethal and non-lethal military materials. However, the UK’s sanctions are stronger. Despite initial promises, Norway’s sovereign wealth fund has yet to fully divest from Russian markets. Therefore, expect Wallace to pressure his Norwegian counterpart to hasten Norway’s divestment plan.
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Mario is a Current Development’s Analyst who writes on security issues, with regional interests in Latin America, Europe and North America.