US Outs Norwegian Arms Contribution to Ukraine as It Thanks Oslo for Sending Artillery
05:05 GMT 25.05.2022 (Updated: 05:37 GMT 25.05.2022)
Russia has frequently warned the US and its allies about the dangers of arms deliveries to Ukraine, stressing that the cargoes constitute a legitimate military target and that such assistance will merely prolong the conflict and even enhance the risks of a direct confrontation with NATO.
US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin has thanked Norway for sending heavy artillery to Ukraine, along with other European nations, including Italy, Greece and Poland, throwing light on what sort of deliveries may be expected in the future.
The Norwegian authorities, however, would not confirm the exact type of artillery Ukraine is about to receive.
“For security reasons, we do not confirm shipments of weapons or materiel to Ukraine in advance. This is about the safety of the Ukrainian departments that will use the equipment and the safety of those who transport the equipment. In addition, it concerns the safety of the Norwegian or foreign personnel who instruct the Ukrainians in the use of the equipment,” the country's Defence Ministry told national broadcaster NRK.
Earlier, though, Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten identified M109 armoured vehicles as a possible contribution. The newspaper mentioned that vehicles of this kind had been taken out of storage and tested in northern Norway. These self-propelled howitzers kitted out with 155mm cannons are Norwegian surplus. They have been in stock since 2020, when they were replaced by the more modern K9 Vidar.
Previously, Norway confirmed it had delivered 2,000 M72 anti-tank weapons and 100 anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine, and had pledged 400 million Norwegian kroner ($43.7 million) to a UK-led initiative to buy arms for Ukraine.
Norwegian Defence Minister Bjørn Arild Gram told local broadcasting company NRK that the government is always evaluating whether Norway should continue to send weapons and materiel to Ukraine in addition to what it has already sent, but he would not elaborate on the exact nature of the assistance.
Austin also said that countries which have contributed materiel will also supply ammunition although it was unclear what sort of quantities were being referred to. Should Norway deliver ammunition, it is likely to be 155mm High Explosive-Extended Range shells which can travel more than 40km and are in ample stock, NRK said.
Although the US-made 155mm M109 howitzers Norway has used in the past have shorter cannon tubes than what is now standard in NATO countries, it still has a range of about 30km. Ukraine has long been asking its supporter for heavy arms, including long-range artillery.
Since Russia launched its special operation to demilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine, and protect the people of the Donbass republics, western nations have been falling over themselves to help Ukraine with arms and military gear. The US alone has committed billions of dollars in arms support to Ukraine in a matter of months, and allies in Europe and beyond have contributed hundreds of millions of dollars more. Many nations, including those in Scandinavia, have in effect abandoned their long-standing principle of not sending arms to conflict-ridden countries.
Russia has repeatedly warned the US and its allies about the dangers of sending arms to Ukraine, stressing that the cargoes constitute a legitimate military target for Russian missiles, and that such assistance merely serves to prolong the conflict, even risking a direct confrontation with NATO.