Norway ups military preparedness, cites need for vigilance

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Norway said Monday it’s stepping up its military preparedness, but the NATO member’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said there is “no reason to believe that Russia will want to invade Norway or any other country directly.”

“We must be more vigilant,” Gahr Støre said. “I don’t believe ordinary people will notice any change.”

Even before Russia invaded Ukraine, the Norwegian government had boosted its level of preparedness, he said, adding that Russia’s “large losses … are causing the Russian regime to resort to new means.”

Gahr Støre stressed that nothing has happened in recent hours to cause the increase of preparedness, which was “due to developments over time.”

Defense Minister Bjørn Arild Gram declined to give details as what the increased preparedness meant, saying it was classified. Norway has a 198-kilometer (123-mile) border with Russia in the Arctic.

Last week, Norwegian authorities detained a man who they say posed as a Brazilian scholar but was allegedly a Russian intelligence officer suspected of spying out state secrets. Norway’s PST domestic intelligence service said his name was Mikhail Mikushin.

The suspect was detained Monday in the Arctic city of Tromsoe, where he worked at the Arctic University of Norway.

Several Russian citizens have been detained in Norway in recent weeks, chiefly for being in possession of drones or allegedly photographing subjects covered by a photography ban. Most have since been released.

European nations have heightened security around key energy, internet and power infrastructure following underwater explosions that ruptured two natural gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea built to deliver Russian gas to Germany.

The damaged Nord Stream pipelines off Sweden and Denmark discharged huge amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the air.

The Russian Embassy in Norway’s capital, Oslo, has alleged that authorities there have used drone and ship sightings, as well as Russians with cameras, to fuel a “spy mania.”

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