Norway's Foreign Minister: "We should all be honest and say: Nobody does enough for Ukraine"

Friday, 5 April 2024 — Oleh Pavliuk, European Pravda, from Brussels

Norway was one of the first of Ukraine's allies to adopt a long-term support plan for 2023-2027. Overall, Oslo's military and humanitarian aid will amount to almost €7.6 billion by 2027, making the Nordic country one of the five largest donors to Ukraine.

Norwegian defence support is crucial for Kyiv, especially considering Norway’s powerful defence industry, which among other things produces components for the NASAMS air defence system. Earlier this year, the Norwegian government announced that it would be ordering more launchers and fire control centres for NASAMS air defence systems from the manufacturer, Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace (KDA), to be sent to Ukraine.

Furthermore, Norway has benefited from increased oil and gas revenues since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Given the delay in US assistance, there have been many calls for Norway to use these windfalls to increase aid to Ukraine.

Finally, as the only NATO member state to have bordered Russia since the Alliance was founded, Norway is well aware of the Russian threat and how to prepare for it.


All these factors prompted European Pravda to speak with Espen Barth Eide, the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, on the sidelines of the NATO foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels.

In this interview, he tells us about the prospects of support for Ukraine, Norway's stance on the possible deployment of troops, and preparations for potential Russian aggression.

"Europeans are now preparing for both outcomes in the US"

At the current stage of the war in Ukraine, there is some criticism of the West's position. Ukraine should be helped so that it reaches victory – but some allies say that Ukraine should only be helped for ‘as long as it takes’. What's your take on that?

I think we all agree that Ukraine should be helped towards victory and that the support shall be there as long as it takes to achieve victory. So I don't think those are two different things.

But what I do understand, and I think all of us understand, is that seen from Ukraine, there's a lot of good words, but not sufficient actual support.

We are now, after a very strong message from Dmytro Kuleba (at the Ukraine-NATO Council meeting – ed.), my good friend and colleague – very aware that air defence is number one.

Of course, we also continue to work on artillery shells and general support.

And some of us also are looking into how we could do something that goes deeper behind enemy lines.

Because you need air defence to defend yourself, but you're not winning the war with air defence. You're winning the war by something more.

Given that support for Ukraine is now being stalled in the US Congress, and that Norway is a wealthy country, some analysts in Ukraine are speculating that Norway might give more money to support Ukraine. Are there any considerations or deliberations in Norway regarding that? Is Norway ready to take a more prominent role here?

On the one hand, we are among the biggest contributors in absolute terms and per capita. At the same time, I think we should all be honest and say: Nobody does enough.

Even the biggest contributor (probably referring to the USA – ed.) does not do enough. Because just look at the realities on the battlefield, not in numbers.

So we are definitely looking at both the volume of support but also the efficiency, what support and how to cooperate with others and make sure that you get the most bang for the bucks, as the Americans say.

And it is important that all Europeans are now preparing for both outcomes in the US (the approval of additional aid to Ukraine – ed.), both an outcome where they will go through with their package, which might happen – and (Secretary of State Antony) Blinken suggests that could happen soon – it has passed the Senate, it is waiting for Congress. But also if they don't, we must make sure that we collectively, as an alliance, keep up a sufficient level of support for Ukraine. So, yes, in a sense, although I don't have news today.

Regarding the discussions about possibly sending Western troops to Ukraine, do you think that Norway might actually take this step at some stage in the war – not necessarily now, but maybe later?

Those who have been speaking about that have not really been speaking about fighting troops for direct confrontation with Russian forces, but about support, training, advisors and so on.

We have no current plans to send troops. I don't think many countries have. But on the other hand, in the very long run I don't think we should rule out anything in principle.

NATO wants to support Ukraine to the level that Ukraine succeeds, which means Russia fails.

But there is no desire to be a direct party to the war, because that could lead to a world war which we don't want to see.

"We think we know Russia quite well and we take necessary measures"

Could you please give us a preview of the current stage of negotiations between Ukraine and Norway regarding the bilateral security agreement?

They are going well, largely done. We have to complete it as soon as possible, but I hope that we will be able to sign very soon.

So, no details that you could disclose at this stage?

No, I can't disclose any details, but we've had good conversations about this. And it's a good trend that more and more countries are doing this.

NATO allies, including Norway, have been speaking extensively about Russia's military threat and even the possibility of a Russian military incursion into NATO territory. Norway has been a frequent target of Russian spies. How do you get prepared for any possible military confrontation or for any malign influence on the part of Russia?

First, we are now just about to come up with a new long-term plan for defence, where we step up our efforts to build our defence infrastructure and defence spending.

But we're also working very hard on broader societal resilience, including against cyber threats and false information and all these issues. This is much higher on the agenda now over the last two years than it was, let's say, ten years ago.

So it's definitely there, and we follow very closely what is happening in other countries.

Norway is in an interesting historical situation:

We are the only old NATO country that had direct borders with both the Soviet Union and today’s Russia.

The current neighbours of Russia are new NATO members. Türkiye, who was with us as a neighbour, does not any longer have borders with Russia.

We have 75 continuous years of bordering first the Soviet Union and then Russia. So we think we know them quite well, and we take necessary measures.


Oleh Pavliuk

European Pravda correspondent, from Brussels

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