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Norwegian army chief warns against Russia threat

Gen. Eirik Kristoffersen, commander of the Norwegian Armed Forces.
Gen. Eirik Kristoffersen, commander of the Norwegian Armed Forces. Source: SCANPIX / REUTERS

Norway only has a few years in which to develop defense that is a match for Russia's growing aggressiveness, Gen. Eirik Kristofferson, head of the Norwegian Armed Forces, said.

"The current window of opportunity will remain open for a year or two, perhaps three, which is when we will have to invest even more in our defense," Kristoffersen was quoted as having said by Dagbladet.

"We do not know what will become of Russia in three years. We need to prepare a strong national defense to be able to meet an uncertain and unpredictable world," the Norwegian defense chief added.

The general pointed out that Russia has managed to restore its military capacity much more quickly than anticipated. Recently, Russia has switched to a wartime economy where weapons factories are working round the clock and is working with such states as Iran and North Korea.

Kristoffersen said that at the same time, the war in Ukraine is depleting the weapons stores of Norway and other European countries, which creates a dilemma for his country.

"That said, it is crucial we continue to support Ukraine by giving them what they need for as long as necessary. And it seems it will be a while still."

Asked about the possibility of Donald Trump being elected president, the general said he is not too worried over the prospect. "The situation is very different in 2024 than it was in 2016 or 2020. And in this world we inhabit, a strong NATO is firmly in U.S. interests. I believe Trump understands this," he said.

Commenting on the words of Adm. Rob Bauer, chair of the NATO Military Committee, according to which all alliance members must be ready for war, Kristoffersen said: "What this means for Norway is that we need to populate NATO [defense] plans with content and ensure necessary capacity. The challenge NATO faces today is that there are gaps therein."

The army chief said Norway will need to invest more in air defense, including by having more munitions and spare parts.

Gen. Kristoffersen also said he completely agrees with his Swedish counterpart Gen. Micael Byden who recently asked everyone in Sweden to be prepared to go to war.

"We are talking about the same things, Byden and I. The people of Norway should give thought to their readiness. We recommend being able to cope without outside help for three days. And we also recommend lengthening that period if you find yourself in a vulnerable situation," Kristoffersen told the paper.

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Editor: Mait Ots, Marcus Turovski

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