The Trump Administration reportedly wants Oslo to boost its defence spending to the level of at least 2 percent of its GDP. In 2018, Norway's defence spending amounted only to 1.62 percent.
Rick Rozoff, investigative journalist and manager of the organization Stop NATO share his views on the issue.
Sputnik: Given Norway's importance as Russia's neighbour, the US wants Oslo to boost its defence spending. What possible reasons could be behind this?
Rick Rozoff: This is quite in line with the US policy, since the Wales summit of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) in 2014 - the now 29 member alliance, committed to increasing military spending to 2 percent of gross domestic product by all of 29 full member states.
So it's quite in line with that. It's also - as you may know - the general secretary of NATO Stoltenberg has a plot of the current US President Donald Trump for having secured 100 billion dollars more in pledges for military expenditure from NATO allies.
This is despite the fact that Trump's political opponents sit at home here in the Democratic Party - accusing him of wanting to withdraw the US from NATO.
Quite the contrary it’s true.
So the demand by the White House for Norway to increase its military expenditures to 2 percent of gross domestic product is just quite in line with that trend - which is strengthening NATO, increasing its eastward expansion and Norway is particularly though relevant in several ways - I could mention if you don't mind…
Rick Rozoff: Norway is the only founding member of NATO to share a border with Russia.
Some 125 mile border is a matter of fact… in the interim in 1999 with Poland joining NATO and in 2004 with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joining NATO - there of course now are 5 members of the military bloc, that border either Russia proper, or the Kaliningrad exclave, in case of Lithuania and Poland. But Norway, during the Cold War but even more so - in recent years, is arguably NATO's premiere frontline state with Russia.
Despite the relative shortness of the border between the two countries - for example the United States has a sophisticated spy base and on the Norwegian island of Vardo, which is in the Arctic Circle there.
The US has upgraded that anti-missile radar recently - and it's clearly marked as part of the US interceptor missile system - that they call a missile defence. And that's particularly dangerous - because Vardo is only 40 miles from Russian territory.
So you have that going on - you also have the US as a Marine prepositioning base - actually a series of bases, and in Norway, that most people don't know about.
They include eight air conditioned caves, where US expeditionary forces, Marine Corps are stationed. As a matter of fact, I've been doing the research for this interview - I happened to find a US Marine Corps article. It's from a website called US Marine Corps life. And the title of the article is actually - ‘US Marine story equipment and secret caves in preparation for war with Russia’ - that's the article from the US Marine Corps in 2018.
The other military installations uniquely situated in Norway - because I think we have to realize that whereas putting interceptor missiles- standard missile 3s in Romania or Poland the US can…. you know with very little believability, but with some shred of credibility perhaps claim that those are being in place to neutralize missiles launched from such countries as Iran, North Korea hardly… But when you talk about Norway - it's quite transparently obvious which country you're building up.
Then the US Marine Corps was compliant enough to let us know what they're doing.
By the way, the increase of the increasingly sophisticated missile radar installation on the island of Vardo I’ve mentioned - is something called Globus 3 and that's an upgrade from what had probably been there. The other facilities - by the way we should mention that although Norway only spends I believe according your article one point six percent of its gross domestic product on the military - as a percentage in aggregate amounts of money spent and per capita - Norway is only 5.5 million people roughly.
It's actually one of the higher nations in terms of percentage of national money allotted for military expenditures so it's … they don't need the NATO two point two percent or 2 percent gross domestic product, but they're one of the bigger military spenders per capita and aggregately in Europe.
They also themselves have something - a national joint headquarters - which is a gigantic or colossal underground fortress sunk into a mountain near Bodo.
It's in the mountains, so they could withstand a nuclear attack - and it was built with US assistance, but it was originally developed by the Nazis, very marked during 1940s, and the US and Norway simply expanded and update expanded and updated … It’s stated in the press that at that national joint headquarters, which also of course is US and NATO personnel - that they have clocks running all the time showing the time in Kabul, Erbil, Juba, Moscow and Washington.
The first three of course are Afghanistan, northern Iraq and South Sudan. Moscow I think is self-evident and this place… even though a Norwegian operation is synchronized with NATO it also is described as the Northern node of NATO cyber defence network - and it has new submarines and if f-52 joint strike…. by the way the US is sold in Norway, despite its relative smallness.
And again we have to acknowledge that it is a major purchaser of military equipment - it hasn't produced much itself, but it is one of the countries are winning on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter the Lightning 2 and they now have them - as of two years ago - stationed in Norway. This is the most advanced new generation combat war plane, that the United States and its allies has produced - sales of something called Joint Strike missile, that accompanies that.
And while we're on that topic, your readers, I'm sure, are aware that a couple of days ago, the Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova had to comment on a statement made by a US military official quoted in a publication here in the United States called ‘National Interest’ about a drill that the US launched, where they simulated a nuclear attack on the Russian oblast of Kaliningrad…
And I mean this was so severe - that the Russian foreign ministry was compelled to comment on it, as were I think the governor of that of Kaliningrad and others but a member of the upper house of the Russian parliament, the Federative Council - actually a member of the Defence Committee in that House branch of the Russian government - Franz Klintsevitch - made a statement - I'm quoting in Interfax from four days ago - and the paraphrase of the statement is - the United States needs a plan to penetrate Russia's air defence system in Kaliningrad not for protection, but for a preventive strike – it’s a rough paraphrase of what the Russian parliamentarian had to say.
And this is in response rather to remark by the US Air Force commander in Europe Jeffrey Harrigan - who says the US is ready to break Kaliningrad air defence, which is threatening NATO countries.
And I want to comment on that - because sometimes things creep up incrementally, almost imperceptibly and we don't realize until they've reached a crisis point how they've developed.
We talked at the beginning about the fact that when NATO was founded - Norway was the only member that border with Russia, and the Joint Strike missiles, and the F-35 and so forth - and Norway, are precisely the sorts of weapons systems that would be used in this sort of attack.
We just talked about Kaliningrad - so that Russia had only roughly a hundred 25 mile border with NATO in the interim, as we also have discussed Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia coming into NATO - there are now five countries bordering Russia - surrounding completely Kaliningrad - Lithuania and Poland.
So, NATO moves in - up to the Russian western border, surrounds Russian territory and then Russia is portrayed in the West as the aggressor?
If it moves any weaponry, the weaponry into its own territory - it is now threatening NATO. And the comment I’ve just read to you suggests precisely that - to the head of the US Air Force or Europe states that the Russian military presence on its own territory is threatening NATO.
Sputnik: You’ve mentioned the US and military using Norwegian bases as staging areas for wars, from Europe to the Middle East. Can you elaborate more on this?
Rick Rozoff: As I mentioned - the Norwegian national military formation is built deeply into the mountain and silver - has been used for the war against Iraq in 2003.
These are not the sorts of things that are made publicly available of course - but one would have to assume they've been used in subsequent conflicts.
And so you have Norway, directly putting itself at the service of the US NATO for wars abroad - even outside of Europe.
But the US is also a NATO has also used Norway because - it's critically important of course - that Norway is one of six claimant nations in the Arctic - five of them are NATO members.
The other is Russia; the other NATO members are of course Denmark, Canada, the United States and even sometimes Britain.
So you have basically NATO nations ganging up against Russia and the Arctic. Norway is the ideal launching pad for that initiative as well … you know hence the radar, the radar I mention - anti-missile radar and Vardo - keeping in mind that I'm not an expert on the subject but…. ICBM arms often are planned to be launched over the Arctic and having a US NATO missile radar base in Norway in the Arctic would be ideally situated for tracing potential retaliatory responses by Russia.
Also though - under the name of Operation Mongoose - don't ask me why they chose that animal in reference to the Arctic - but the US and NATO been launching large scale, according to some press reports, as far back as four years ago - the largest anti-submarine exercises ever off the Norwegian coast in the Arctic.
These are multinational, with NATO countries and NATO's so-called Partnership for Peace members - Finland Sweden. Also last October the NATO launched - what was described as the largest war games conducted by NATO since the Cold War - something called Trident Juncture. And these were held off the coast of Norway.
So what you're seeing is increasingly US NATO or Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian supported by NATO and the United States war games of increasing intensity - largest submarine exercise, anti-submarine exercise ever, largest NATO military exercises since the Cold War and so forth - occurring in or off the coast of Norway.
So Norway is highly significant geopolitically and geostrategically.
And I would suggest that the White House has other plans for Norway they may not be divulging at the moment and coughing up more money is only part of that plan.