A security expert in Norway has raised an alarm over the risk of a “massive attack” from Russia amid concern Moscow has sights set on Finnmark in the country’s far north. FFI Research Director Espen Skjelland believes Finnmark, which borders the Barents Sea, could become a target for the Kremlin in the event of a war between Russia and NATO in Europe.
Sky News Australia’s Brent O’Halloran said: Russia’s Northern Fleet with its nuclear-armed submarines are based on the nearby Kola Peninsula, strategists suggest that Moscow can’t protect them and its ability to respond in kind to a nuclear attack without taking Finnmark.”
Mr Skjelland said there are strategic bases just across the Norwegian border.
He told Sky News Australia: “For Russia, they need to protect their bases, what we call the Bastion, so they have the Bastion defence so we think it may strengthen their defence, under certain circumstances, to attack north Norway,”
“We have been very concerned about the risks for a massive attack from Russia.”
A Russian force totally of two brigades with 8000 troops is believed to be positioned just 20 kilometres from Finnmark.
Mr Skjelland continued: “We have been very concerned about the risk for a massive attack from Russia.
“Not a potential for war between Norway and Russia spilling out of any kind of crisis in the bilateral relationship between the countries.
“But it is a part of a lot a larger gam I mean, the deterrence game between above all the US-NATO and Russia.”
The documents need to be ratified by the parliaments of all 30 North Atlantic Treaty Organization members before Finland and Sweden can be protected by the NATO defence clause that states that an attack on one member is an attack against all.
Ratification is likely to take up to a year but in the meantime, Helsinki and Stockholm can already participate in NATO meetings and have greater access to intelligence.
Moscow has repeatedly warned both countries against joining NATO.
On March 12, the Russian foreign ministry said “there will be serious military and political consequences”.