Ukraine, Ukraine Conflict | – If there is one man Putin can be interested in listening to, it is Jonas Gahr Støre

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj received standing ovations when he addressed the Storting on Wednesday afternoon.

The Norwegian government has already provided 2,000 M72 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine. Shortly before Zelenskyj’s speech to the Storting, the government was able to inform Norway donates another 2,000 anti-tank weapons.

Nevertheless, Zelenskyj expressed a concrete desire to get even more weapons from Norway. Zelenskyj said Ukraine was in dire need of heavier weapons systems such as air defense and Harpoon-type naval missiles.

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After the speech, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre stated that the government will review Zelenskyj’s requests.

The online newspaper has spoken with two former Norwegian defense leaders, Sverre Diesen and Robert Mood, about Zelenskyj’s weapons requests.

– Do you think Norway should send heavier weapon systems to Ukraine, such as naval missiles and air defense systems?

– Firstly, we do not have more weapons than we need ourselves. As far as I know, the Armed Forces has ammunition in stock of all types for a few days of high-intensity operations. Sending weapons out of the country without being able to rule out that we ourselves will be able to need them, I think is worrying, says retired Lieutenant General Robert Mood to Nettavisen.

– But if we have a lot of weapons in stock that do not require much training and they need, then it is clear that Ukraine deserves to get it, he says.

Also read: British intelligence chief: Russian soldiers sabotage the invasion

Diplomacy and humanitarian aid

However, Mood believes that the main focus of support for Ukraine should be on diplomacy and humanitarian aid.

– If Norway is to use a lot of energy to help Ukraine, something we should do, I think Norway can play a much more important role by being more accessible in the diplomatic arena and being a humanitarian superpower that can help Ukrainian refugees both inside and outside Ukraine. Zelenskyj has signaled that the overall goal is to end the war, and that this battle must also be fought in the diplomatic arena, says Mood.

Støre and Putin

Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre has a long career in diplomacy, and was probably one of Norway’s most popular foreign ministers of all time. On Thursday afternoon, the news came that Støre had had an hour-long telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier in the day.

– What do you think about Støre talking to Putin, Mood?

– I have had the pleasure of seeing Jonas Gahr Støre in action in the Middle East when I was there under very difficult conditions in Syria in 2012. And I am absolutely sure that there is one man that both Putin, Macron, Biden and Zelenskyj can be interested in listening to, then it’s Jonas Gahr Støre. That he makes himself available, I think is very positive, says Mood.

The then Foreign Minister Støre met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad several times when the Syrian war was at its most brutal.

Former Chief of Defense Sverre Diesen says it can be challenging to send heavy Norwegian weapon systems that require training. But he is basically positive that the West is stepping up its efforts and giving the Ukrainians what they need.

– Harpoon is a naval target missile, and then it is probably intended to be used against Russian naval vessels off the Ukrainian coast, perhaps in connection with a landing operation near Odessa, says former defense chief and retired General Sverre Diesen to Nettavisen.

– But Norway does not have Harpoon missiles. So it is possible he is misinformed on this point, says Diesen, who is now a researcher at the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment (FFI).

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Diesen: – We should give the Ukrainians what they need

Zelenskyj is also calling for deliveries of air defense systems from Norway. The Norwegian Armed Forces currently uses the ground-based air defense system NASAMS, which has been developed by Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace.

– The problem is that we do not have the type of air defense missiles that the Ukrainians know. Then we are talking about giving the Ukrainians weapons that require training in their use. It will be something completely different than sending S300 missiles (Soviet / Russian air defense system editor’s note) from Greece or Bulgaria, which the Ukrainians already know, says the former chief of defense.

Diesen says that Norway has naval missiles, but that these weapon systems will also require training before they can possibly be used by Ukrainian forces.

– Can weapons training (in Norwegian weapon systems) for Ukrainian forces contribute to an escalation?

– I do not think it is in itself an escalation of the war. I think we should give the Ukrainians what they need so that the Russians do not win the war. As far as possible, we must let the Ukrainians decide for themselves what weapons they need. Whether the Norwegian government will give Ukraine this type of Norwegian weapon, I will have no opinion on. But it is absolutely crucial for the West’s security interests that Russia does not win the war, says Diesen.

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– Not an increased real danger of attacks on NATO

The former chief of defense believes that there is nothing in the way of the West being able to supply heavier weapons to Ukraine, such as old Soviet MiG fighter jets with which the Ukrainian air force is already well acquainted.

– I do not think there is any increased real danger that Putin will attack any NATO country. That threat is not credible, in my opinion. But that is, of course, what Putin wants us to think, says Diesen.

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