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The Russo-Norwegian War was an armed conflict between Norway supported by fellow NATO countries on one side, and Russia on the other. It occurred between September 2010 and January 2011, and involved land, air and sea warfare.
Discovery of enourmous oil, gas and fish reserves in the disputed maritime "Grey Zone" by the Norwegians resulted in increased pressure by the Russian government for their share of the reserves, claiming some of it was located in Russian territorial waters. Increasing oil prices and the economical unstability hit the Russians significantly, and estimates concluded that the massive oil reserves in the Sthokman field would be unavailable to obtain for at least 15 to 20 years, while the Norwegian's discovery of a smaller, but more accessible oil reserves were already being pumped by the Norwegians. The hostilities between NATO and Russia escalated with the Russian intervention in the South Ossetia War of August 2008, and in early 2010 Russia demanded that the Norwegians allowed the Russians access to the field, to which the newly elected Liberal-Conservative Coalition led by Prime Minister Siv Jensen refused. Military build-up and demands continued, and hostilities escalated even further when three Russian soldiers were killed and a Norwegian soldier wounded wounded in a border incident near. Further conflict was prevented, but the military build-up and demands continued.
On the evening of September 10, 2010, Russia launched a large-scale ground- and air-based military attack on Norway. The invasion took the Norwegians by suprise, and after days heavy fighting, Russian forces had advanced over 100 km into Norwegian territory. However, Norwegian resistance, despite in lack of manpower and equipment, managed to inflict serious casualties and losses among the invading Russian forces. Within a week several of Norway's fellow NATO members, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark, the Netherlands and Iceland responded by sending troops to support Norway. Sweden as well sent troops to support Norway, thus breaking almost 200 years of neutrality.
In early October the Russian advance was halted, and during late November to mid-December a counterattack by NATO forces pushed the Russians back over 100 km. Following mediation by EU chairman, a preliminary ceasefire agreement was reached on December 20, and was signed by Norway and Russia on December 22 in Oslo and December 23 in Moscow. On November 25, president Medvedev had already ordered a halt to Russian military operations in Northern Norway but fighting did not stop immediately.
When the ceasefire was signed Russia pulled most of its troops out from the Norway proper. However, Russia established so-called "buffer zones" around Kirkenes and other border zones. International monitoring was deployed in Eastern Finnmark on January 1, 2011. Sporadic firefights continued until January 8, when Russia completed its withdrawal following international agreements.
Various names have been applied to the Russo-Norwegian War. Some of the names being in use:
- Den norsk-russiske krigen (Official Norwegian designation)
- Finnmarkskrigen (Unofficial Norwegian designation)
- Oljekrigen (Unofficial Norwegian designation)
- Русско-Норвежская война (Official Russian designation)
- Russo-Norwegian Conflict
Background to the conflict
The Barents Sea (Norwegian: Barentshavet, Russian: Баренцево море) is a part of the Arctic Ocean located north of Norway and Russia. It is a rather deep shelf sea (average depth 230 m), bordered by the shelf edge towards the Norwegian Sea in the west, the island of Svalbard (Norway) in the northwest, and the islands of Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya (Russia) in the northeast and east. Novaya Zemlya separates Kara Sea from Barents Sea. Known in the Middle Ages as the Murman Sea, the sea takes its current name from the Dutch navigator Willem Barentsz.
The Barents Sea was formerly known to Russians as Murmanskoye Morye, or the "Sea of Murmans" (i.e., Norwegians), and it appears with this name in sixteenth-century maps, including Gerard Mercator's Map of the Arctic published in his 1595 atlas. Its eastern corner, in the region of the Pechora River's estuary, has been known as Pechorskoye Morye, that is, Pechora Sea.
Barents was the leader of early expeditions to the far north, at the end of the sixteenth century. Seabed mapping was completed in 1933 with the first full map produced by Russian marine geologist Maria Klenova.
During the Cold War, the Soviet Red Banner Northern Fleet used the southern reaches of the Sea as a ballistic missile submarine bastion, a strategy that Russia continues. Nuclear contamination from dumped Russian naval reactors is an environmental concern in the Barents Sea.
Discovery of energy
Since the discovery of North Sea oil in Norwegian waters during the late 1960s, exports of oil and gas have become very important elements of the Economy of Norway. Norway experienced a rapid economic growth, and is now amongst the wealthiest countries in the world. Export revenues from oil and gas have risen to 45% of total exports and constitute more than 20% of the GDP. Only Russia and OPEC member Saudi Arabia export more oil than Norway, which is not an OPEC member. To reduce over-heating from oil money and the uncertainty from the oil income volatility, and to save money for an aging population, the Norwegian state started in 1995 to save petroleum income (taxes, dividends, licensing, sales) in a sovereign wealth fund ("Government Pension Fund — Global"). This also reduces the boom and bust cycle associated with raw material production and the marginalization of non-oil industry.
The control mechanisms over petroleum resources are a combination of state ownership in major operators in the Norwegian fields (StatoilHydro approx. 62% in 2007) and the fully state owned Petoro (market value of about twice Statoil) and SDFI. Finally the government controls licensing of exploration and production of fields. The fund invests in developed financial markets outside Norway. The budgetary rule ("Handlingsregelen") is to spend no more than 4% of the fund each year (assumed to be the normal yield from the fund).
By January 2006, the Government Pension Fund of Norway fund had reached a value of USD 200 billion. During the first half of 2007, the pension fund became the largest fund in Europe, with assets of about USD 300 billion (equivalent to over USD 62,000 per capita). The savings equal the Norwegian GDP and are the largest capital reserve per capita of any nation as of April 2007.
It is thought that the Barents Sea, off the coast of Norway and Russia, may hold one third of the world’s remaining undiscovered oil and gas. A 2001 moratorium on exploration in the Norwegian sector, imposed due to environmental concerns, was ended in 2005 following a change in government. A terminal and liquefied natural gas plant is now being constructed at Snøhvit and, as the Arctic ice cap shrinks due to global warming, it is thought that Snøhvit may also act as a future staging post for oil exploration in the Arctic Ocean.
With the election of the liberal-conservative coalition in the latest parliamentary elections (consisting of the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet, FrP) and the Conservative Party (Høyre, H), and the rising oil and gas prices, the new government heavily reduced the petrol taxes, while the Norwegian parliament accepted the expansion of the Snøhvit field in the Barents Sea.
Snøhvit is the name of a natural gas field in the Barents Sea, situated 140 km northwest of Hammerfest, Norway. Snøhvit is also the name of a development of Snøhvit and the two neighbouring natural gas fields Albatross and Askeladden. The subsea production system feeds a land-based plant on the island of Melkøya via a 160 kilometer long submarine gas pipeline. Estimated recoverable reserves are 193 billion m³ of natural gas, 113 million barrels of condensate (light oil), and 5.1 million tonnes of natural gas liquids (NGL). The fields were discovered in 1984, and the development plan was presented by Statoil in 2001. With a total cost for field development at around NOK 34.2 billion, it was finished in 2006, and production commenced in October. The development of Snøhvit sparked political controversy in Norway, as it was the first discovery in the Barents Sea to be developed. Environmental groups like Natur og Ungdom and Bellona argued that the Barents Sea is too sensitive for oil and gas production, and that the Melkøya LNG plant would drastically increase Norway's CO2 emissions.
Border disputes between Norway and Russia
Most of the Barents Sea lies within the economic zones of Norway, Russia, and the fishing protection zone around Svalbard. Between these economic zone lies a strip of water called "smutthullet" comprising 67 100 km², which is not possessed by neither Norway nor Russia. There has been at time been a source of conflict between the two nations.
Another territorial dispute between them is the boundary on the continental shelf of the Barents Sea, known as the "Grey Zone" (Norwegian: "Gråsonen"). Since 1970 they have both made claims over the area, which comprises 150 000 km². While Norway favours the princip of a Median Line, which the boundary should be drawn between the closest coastlines of Norway and Russia, the Russians favours a meridian based border in which the boundary will be drawn between the North Pole and a point on the territorial boundary outside off the Russo-Norwegian continental border. The reason for the dispute is because of the large reserves of fish and natural gas. While an intermediate agreement were made in January 1978 between the Norwegian Minister of Trade and Shipping Jens Evensen and the Soviet Union, the dispute is still not solved.
Russian long-range flights
On July 17, 2007, Russia resumed the Soviet-era practice of sending its bomber aircraft on long-range flights at a permanent basis in July and August 2007, after a 15-year unilateral suspension due to fuel costs and other economic difficulties after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when two Tupolev Tu-95 bombers flew in the Norwegian Sea, and were intercepted outside Northern Trøndelag, after two Norwegian F-16 was sent after it.
On July 20, four Tu-95 bombers were intercepted by two Norwegian F-16s. They turned around after flying along the between Stavanger and Aberdeen.
On August 14, U.S. and Canadian military sources reported of increased Russian activity close to Alaska, and that Russian bombers had flown towards the U.S. Air Force base om Guam. Russia had continued patrols near American territory as a response to the U.S. plans for a missile shield installations in Poland and the Czech Republic for a Ground-Based Midcourse Defense System. In February 2007 US started formal negotiations with those countries concerning construction of the missile defence shield in question. While the objective is reportedly to protect most of Europe from long-range missile strikes from Iran, while Russia objected, claiming it is an offensive weapons system which threatens Russian sovereignity, after which they suspended Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. Russia threatened to place short-range nuclear missiles on the Russia’s border with NATO if the United States refuses to abandon plans to deploy 10 interceptor missiles and a radar in Poland and the Czech Republic. In April 2007, Putin warned of a new Cold War if the Americans deployed the shield in Central Europe. Putin also said that Russia is prepared to abandon its obligations under a Nuclear Forces Treaty of 1987 with the United States.
On August 17, 14 Russian bombers, tankers, fighter and reconnaissance aircraft flew dangerously close to Norwegian territory, after which Norwegian F-16 fighters were sent to intercept them. The same day, President Vladimir Putin said Russia permanently resumed Friday long-distance patrol flights of strategic bombers, which were suspended in 1992 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. "I made a decision to restore flights of Russian strategic bombers on a permanent basis, and at 00:00 today, August 17, 14 strategic bombers, support aircraft and aerial tankers were deployed. Combat duty has begun, involving 20 aircraft."
On September 3, Russian bombers initiated a two-day exercise over the Arctic, where they tested long-distance rockets.
On September 6, RAF Tornados intercepted eight Russian Tupolev Tu-95 bombers as they approached British airspace, as the British were warned by the Norwegians. Here F-16s were as well sent after them.
On September 14, two Norwegian F-16s and RAF Tornados intercepted two Russian Tupolev Tu-160 bombers as they approached Scottish airspace.
At 05:25 AM on September 20, two Norwegian F-16s intercepted four Russian Tupolev Tu-95MS close to Norwegian airspace. The Russian bombers were on a 12-hour exercise over the Arctic and the Atlantic.
During the night of October 16, two Norwegian F-16s were sent to identify two Russian aircraft that were approaching Norwegian airspace. They were identified as Tupolev Tu-160 bombers, and after 45 minutes the F-16s returned to base while the bombers continued towards British airspace, were they were intercepted by RAF Tornados.
In the early morning of October 25, two Tupolev Tu-95 were observed at Nordkapp by the air operations center at Reitan, but due to bad weather no F-16s were sent from Bodø. They were intercepted by RAF Tornados between the Faroe Islands and Iceland. At 11 AM two Tupolev Tu-160 were followed by two Norwegian F-16s and later by RAF aircraft. The bombers continued towards the British Isles and then turned back around 120 miles north of Noordwjik in the Netherlands, where the foreign ministers of the NATO members held a summit.
On October 30, Norwegian F-16 were sent up to follow two Russian Tupolev Tu-160 bombers outside of Bodø at 04:00 AM. The bombers were heading for Denmark, and RAF fighters and Danish F-16s were also sent after them as well. So far, the Norwegian F-16 fighters had been sent up to intercept Russian aircraft a total of 37 times, and had observed a total of 68 aircraft.
On December 3 a flotilla consisting of the hangar ship Admiral Kuznetsov, several nave vessels, tankers and around 47 aircraft and helicopters left the naval base at Severomorsk at Kola for the Mediteranean. The patrols would continue until February 3, 2008. On December 11, the naval unit held an exercise between the Norwegian oil rigs around 111 kilometres from Bergen, where they tested missiles.
On January 21, 2008, two Norwegian F-16 fighters were dispatched to identify two unknown aircraft close to Norwegian waters at 04:00 AM in the morning. They were identified as two Tupolev Tu-95 bombers of the Russian Air Force. At 07:00 AM two F-16 were again sent to identify what turned out to be two Tupolev Tu-160 bombers on their way towards the Bay of Biscay outside of France to test tactical missiles.
On February 1, twelwe Russian bombers flew over the North Atlantic and the Artic on an exercise to fill ip fuel in air.
On February 9, 22 fighter aircraft of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force were dispatched to intercept a Russian Tupolev Tu-95 bomber that entered Japanese airspace over the island Sofugan, around 650 kilometres south of Tokyo. The bomber was in Japanese airspace for 3 minutes until it continued into international airspace. On February 12, two Russian bombers flew over the U.S. carrier USS Nimitz outside of the coast of Japan, after which four American fighter jets were dispatched to intercept it.
On April 23, two Norwegian F-16 fighters were dispatched to intercept two Tupolev Tu-95 bombers, two Ilyushin Il-78 tankers and four Sukhoi Su-27 fighters close to Norwegian waters.
On July 8, 2008, The Russian Foreign Ministry stated that if the missile defense system is okayed, "we will be forced to react not with diplomatic, but with military-technical methods."
Tensions between Russia and NATO escalates
On July 14, 2007, Russia gave notice of its intention to suspend the CFE treaty, effective 150 days later.
The relations between Russia and the west hit another blow during the South Ossetia War in August 2008, when Russian forces intervened on the behalf of South Ossetia against Georgia, who was a potential member state of both NATO and the EU.
In response to the war, Russia faced strong criticism from the U.S., the United Kingdom, Poland, Sweden and the Baltic states with Carl Bildt, foreign minister of Sweden and Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, being quoted, Russia's claims it was defending Russian citizens in South Ossetia "recalled Hitler’s justifications of Nazi invasions" and President George W. Bush warning Russia: "Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century."
The unilateral recognition by Russia was met by condemnation from NATO, the UN Secretary-General, the OSCE Chairman, the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the European Commission, Foreign Ministers of the G7, and the government of Ukraine due to alleged violation of Georgia's territorial integrity, and United Nations Security Council resolutions. Russian policy of recognition was supported by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation although the SCO Group didn't back it explicitly.
On 14 August 2008, the United States and Poland came to an agreement to place 10 missile interceptor bases with MIM-104 Patriot defense systems in Poland. This came at a time when tension was high between Russia and most of NATO and resulted in a nuclear threat on Poland by Russia if the building of the missile defenses went ahead. On August 20th, 2008 the United States and Poland signed the agreement, with a statement from Russia saying their response "Will Go Beyond Diplomacy" and is a "extremely dangerous bundle" of military projects." Also, on August 20, 2008, Russia sent word to Norway that it was suspending ties with NATO.
Along with most of NATO, Norway also condemned the Russian aggression. Jens Stoltenberg, the Prime Minister of Norway, stated in a press conference on August 9, 2008 that "We recognise the sovereignty of Georgia. This conflict must be handled at the negotiation table, not the battlefield." He also urged both parties to show restraint and cease combat operations. The Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jonas Gahr Støre, also commented the Russian actions, stating that the "Situation in Europe had not been this serious since the War in the Balkans in the 1990s."
The Russian intervention in the conflict sparkled debates in Norway whether the Norwegian Armed Forces were capable of protecting its national interests against a possible Russian aggression. Despite the defence budget had increased since 2005, the military had still suffered from lack of funds under the Red-Green coalition (consisting of the Social Democrats, Socialists and Agrarians), most notable with the lack of guards of the Royal Guard along Karl Johans Gate during the opening of the Parliament (Storting) on September, 2008, cuts in personnel, and reduction in military formation and military bases.
Norwegian sovereignity expands
Election and new leadership in Norway
Energy discovery in the Barents Sea
Prelude to war
Barents Sea Incident
- Main article: Barents Sea Incident
During the spring and summer of 2010, the Russian Northern Fleet, with its flagship Admiral Kuznetsov in lead, held several naval exercises as strategic bombers continued flying along the Norwegian territorial waters.
On September 3 a flotilla consisting of the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, several naval vessels, tankers and around 47 aircraft and helicopters left the naval base at Severomorsk to hold a naval exercise in the Barents Sea. The majority of the Norwegian Royal Navy's combat vessels had been deployed in Northern Norway following the election, and the Coast Guard followed the Russian ships along their journey along the Norwegian coast.
At 2100 hours on September 4, the Norwegian Coast Guard vessel KV Nordkapp left for the Barents Sea from Nordkapp to take over from KV Senja to observe and report the activity of the Russian naval exercise in the Barents Sea 24 nautical miles from Nordkapp. At 0021 hours on September 5 they had reached their destination, and they began their observation. Not much time had passed when they discovered a Russian naval vessel heading to their position only 17 nautical miles from the Norwegian coast, and only 5 miles from Norwegian territorial waters. At 0112 they alarmed the Norwegian Naval Base at Nordkapp that a Russian naval vessel was now within 15 nautical miles, and asked for further presence should the situation escalate. 20 minutes later Nordkapp established radio contact with the Russian vessel, which presented themselves as the. However, following an argument between the two ships the vessels moved towards eachother.
At 0151 hours on September 5, 2010, the Russian Navy corvette MPK 113 and the Norwegian Coast Guard vessel KV Nordkapp engaged eachother 3 km from Norwegian territorial waters. While it is still today unclear who initiated the engagement, the two sides were later reinforced by the corvettes MPK 130 Nar'yan-Mar, MPK 203 Yunga and 530 Steregushchiy and the patrol boat P960 Skjold of the Norwegian Navy. The engagement resulted in the sinking of the corvette MPK 113 and the coast guard vessel KV Senja.
Immediately after the news of the incident sparked reached news agencies in Norway, Russia and worldwide, intense debate in both Norway and Russia, and worsened Russo-Norwegian relations even further. In Norway, it was the news channel TV2 Nyhetskanalen and the newspapers VG and Aftenposten that first brought the news of the incident. Prime Minister Siv Jensen called the incident as an "unfortunate and unnecessary escalation of an already tense relationship" and called for an international, non-biased, neutral commission to investigate the incident. This was supported by the majority of the Norwegian parliament, such as Labour Party, Centre Party, the Liberal Party and fellow government parties Conservatives and the Christian Democratic Party. The left-wing parties Red and Socialist Left Party also called the incident as an unfortunate escalation of the crisis, and claimed that Prime Minister Siv Jensen and the Progress Party's policies had directly provoked the incident. The Progress Party and the Conservative Party also praised the success of the Skjold class vessels for success in their first combat experience. In cities like Oslo, Trondheim and Tromsø demonstrations in support of the Norwegian action were held.
In Russia the incident was met with outrage. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov condemned the Norwegian government, calling the incident as a "Norwegian act of aggression", and claimed that the Norwegians had fired upon the Russian vessels first in international waters. They criticized the European Union and NATO as "biased in favour of Norway against Russia", and criticized U.S. President Barack Obama and fellow NATO member governments for "not condemning the Norway and thus taking their side". Anti-Norwegian and anti-NATO protests were held in cities like Moscow and Saint Petersburg. In Moscow the Embassy of Norway was besieged by protesters, including pro-Kremlin youth organisations Nashi and the Molodaya Gvardiya.
At the beginning of the conflict, Norway had 52 Leopard 2A4N main battle tanks, 400 armored personel carriers (M-113 varients, including 50 of the Norwegian-produced anti-tank version NM142),104 infantry fighting vehicals(CV-90N), 57 combat aircraft (F-16 AM/BM multi-role fighters) and 60 heavy artillery pieces (including M-109A3GN). Norway had also recently been modernising some of its older equipment, including 20 Leopard 1A5Ns, as well as reintroducing some equipment in storage (such as 12 MLRS, 14 M-109A3GN, and 38 NM-142s).
The Russians claimed that the Norwegians air-defense systems were ineffective. In contrast, U.S. analysts state that the air defense was "a very effective element of that countrys military", and credit NASAMS with the downing of a Tupolev Tu-22M, a Tu-95, as well as 3 of the Su-25s. A view that was mirriored by Russia's Deputy Chief of General Staff, Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, who credits the system with the downing of 5 Russian aircraft during the conflict.
Russian invasion of Norway involved significant elements of the Russian Leningrad Military District. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies the Leningrad Military District had been reinforced to become one of Russia’s premiere combat formations and boasts more than twice the number of troops, six times the number of tanks, ten times the number of armored personnel carriers and eight times the number of combat aircraft as the entire Norwegian Armed Forces. The 4th Guards Tank Division alone contributed with 12,000 personnel, as well as 310 T-80 main battle tank and 300 BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles.
Russian order of battle
Leningrad Military District
- CO: Colonel General Valerii Gerasimov
- HQ: Saint Petersburg
- Units of the Leningrad Military District:
- 41st Motor Rifle Brigade
- 138th Motor Rifle Brigade
- 62nd Seperate Motor Rifle Brigade
- 200th Motor Rifle Brigade
- Units of the Moscow Military District:
- 4th Guards Kantemirovskaya Tank Division
- 12th Tank Regiment
- 13th Tank Regiment
- 14th Tank Regiment
- 423rd Guards Iampolski Motor Rifle Regiment
- 4th Guards Kantemirovskaya Tank Division
- Units of GRU (direct or operational subordination)
- Spetsnaz of the 2nd Separate Brigade of Special Designation Promezhitsy (Pskov region)
- Naval Task Force consisting of following units from the Russian Northern Fleet
- Admiral Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier RFS Admiral Kuznetsov.
- Kirov-class cruiser RFS Pyotr Velikiy.
- Slava-class cruiser RFS Marshal Ustinov
- Delfin-class submarines RFS Novomoskovsk (K-407), RFS Verkhoturie (K-51) and RFS Borisoglebsk (K-496)
- Grisha-V Anti-Submarine corvettes RFS Kasimov, RFS Povorino and RFS Suzdalets.
- Nanuchka-III class corvette RFS Mirazh.
- Bora-class mssile boat RFS Samum.
- Alligator-class landing ships RFS Saratov and RFS Roskov.
- Ropucha-I-class landing ships RFS Caesar Kunikov and RFS Yamal.
- Small Landing Ship RFS Koida.
- Sorum-class fleet tug MB-31.
- Moma-class Surveillance ship RFS Ekvator.
- Natya-class minesweepers RFS Zhukov and RFS Turbinist.
Air support Fighter, attack, bomber and reconnaissance aircrafts of 4th Air Army. Unnamed transport aviation units used for air-lift of units of 76th and 98th Airborne Divisions, Spetsnaz of 45th Detached Reconnaissance Regiment and unnamed units of VDV.
Total Strength: 35,000 men
Phase 1: Russian invasion
Day 1: September 10, 2010
At 03:30 A.M. on September 10, Russia iniated the attack on Norway with a massive artillery assault on Kirkenes and aerial bombardements of military bases, airstrips, communication centres, supply depots and military positions in Northern Norway. The Norwegians were completely taken by surprise. Norwegian reports indicated that the Russians used BM-21 and BM-27 rocket launchers, 152-millimeter guns and self-propelled artillery pieces such as the 2S1 and 2S3. While the Su-24s and Su-25s of the 6th adn 722nd Bomber Aviation Regiments attacked military positions, bases and bridges in Northern Norway, Tu-22M, Tu-95MS and Tu-160 Tu-22M of the 52nd, 121st and 184th Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiments attacked targets such as NATO surveillance bases and the Bodø Main Air Station. Several sources claimed that the Russians used cluster bombs during these attacks, but the Russian themselves denied this.
Within one hour of the initial artillery and aerial bombardement, several hundred military vehicles and installations had been destroyed. Norwegian military sources reported that 18 soldiers had been killed, and material losses included 13 Scania trucks, five MB 240 command cars and three CV9030N infantry fighting vehicles destroyed, as well as 6 F-16 fighter aircraft had been destroyed on the ground.
The first Norwegian victory of the war was when a NASAMS II surface-to-air missile battery shot down a Tu-22M outside of Tromsø at 04:10 A.M. - the first time it was used in live combat. Immediately following the shelling has been confirmed to derive from Russian aircraft and artillery, the Norwegian government was waken and summoned to an emergency summit at the Defence Department. The meeting were led by Prime Minister Siv Jensen, Defence Minister Per Ove Width and Chief of Defence General Sverre Diesen along with other leading military officers. Also summoned were President of the Storting Carl I. Hagen and King Harald V. The sit uation was presented to the Prime Minister and the government by the military officers, and it was decided to immediately ask NATO and the United States for assistance, call upon the United Nations to force Russia to end the operation and to issue a decree of mobilisation.
At 05:10 A.M. Spetsnaz of the 2nd Separate Brigade of Special Designation Promezhitsy attacked and seized the border stations at Gjøkåsen, Skogfoss, Svanvik and Grense Jakobselv. Of particular importance was securing the bridges over Pasvikelva. However, unexpected heavy resistance was encountered at Korpfjell and Elvenes, and after a 20 minute firefight the Norwegian soldiers at Korpfjell withdrew towards Elvenes with MB 240 Geländewagens under fire from small-arms fire, mortars and a Su-25 ground attack aircraft. At Elvenes the Norwegians lost the control of the bridge, but managed to control half of the village.
After hours of artillery bombardment, the Russian ground forces launched the military offensive against Norway at At 06:10 A.M., codenamed Operation Northern Storm (Операция Северный Шторм). The 12th and 13th Tank Regiments of the 4th Guards Kantemirovskaya Tank Division and the 41st and 138th Motor Rifle Brigades spearheaded the invasion, while the rest of the units provided support. The 12th Tank Regiment 41st Motor Rifle Brigade crossed the border at Skogfoss and Svanvik, while the 13th Tank Regiment and the 138th Motor Rifle Brigade crossed the border at Elvenes. The Russian forces advanced quickly, seized the villages of Hesseng and Bjørnevatn, located 2 to 4 km south of Kirkenes. However, the Russians lost one BMP-2 and a T-72 at Elvenes to M72 anti-tank weapons before the Norwegians retreated.
At 06:50 A.M., the Deputy Chief of General Staff and primary spokesman of of the Russian Armed Forces, General Anatoliy Nogovitsyn, announced, that Kirkenes was completely surrounded by Russian forces, which now began moving into the town. According to Norwegian sources, the Russian troops at first failed to advance further than 100 metres inside the town. Soldiers of the Øst-Finnmark Heimevernsdistrikt 18, which had been deployed to Kirkenes in the days leading up to the invasion, managed to prevent the attacking movement of Russian tanks on Stalin Street, and reported that "4 BMPs had been destroyed, and the Russian infantry had been forced to a halt."
At 8:00 A.M. the 62nd Seperate Motor Rifle Brigade and 200th Motor Rifle Brigade crossed the border at Skogfoss and Svanvik, while the 14th Tank Regiment and 423rd Guards Iampolski Motor Rifle Regiment crossed at Elvenes. They immediatly began advancing on Kirkenes, and the Norwegians now came under hard pressure. After two hours of intense urban combat the Russians were in full control of Kirkenes. As the Russian forces continued their advance inland, the Russian airforce flew attacks on the retreating Norwegian infantry.
At 09:38 A.M. ten Tu-95MS strategic bombers of the 184th Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiment bombed the city of Bodø, marking the first attack on a larger population centre of the war. At the same time the international community responded with anger to the news of the Russian invasion, and in particular Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, the United Kingdom, the United States and NATO were fierce in their condemnation of the Russian offensive. Especially in the Nordic countries and the Eastern European NATO members the attack was met with outrage. As people began protesting outside the Russian embassies in Copenhagen, Stockholm and Reykjavík, Prime Ministers of Denmark and Sweden, Lars Løkke Rasmussen and Fredrik Reinfeldt respectedly, expressed their "deepest sympathies and solidarity for the Norwegian people", while Rasmussen urged NATO to come to the support of Norway. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen also condemned the attack, and called for a summit within 48 hours. In the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania people protested outside the Russian embassies in Tallinn, Rīga and Vilnius, respectively, where they clashed with pro-Russian protesters of mainly Russian origin. In Poland and the Czech Republic they warned they would respond harshly towards Russia, and both Polish President LecPrime Minister drawed similarities with the Soviet invasions of Poland in 1939 and Czechoslovakia in 1968. Harsh responses from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The invasion was also met with outrage in the United States, and President Barack Obama had been wakened up 1:00 A.M. UTC-5 to be briefed of the news of the invasion. He had immediately contacted Prime Minister Jensen and expressed his complete solidarity with Norway. Later that day, at 08:00 P.M. UTC-5 he held a press conference at the White House in Washington, D.C., calling the "Russian act of aggression on our fellow NATO member is totally unacceptable". He also called for an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council and the North Atlantic Council, as well as and promised to work with the EU and the OSCE to put diplomatic pressure on Russia, as well as promising to dispatch U.S. troops as soon as possible. At 12:00 P.M. Prime Minister Siv Jensen adressed the nation, where she called upon all Norwegians, of all political ideology, race and age, to stand up and fight for their country.
Meanwhile, the Russian advance continued. As men and material were crossing the border, the spearheads continued advancing inland. Only small engagements were encountered for the rest of the day, and the Norwegians were forced to retreat to Neiden, 40 km from the Russo-Norwegian border. At 05:00 P.M. the Russians halted the operations for the day, as General Anatoliy Nogovitsyn announced that the Russian Army had advanced 40 km inland and inflicted a severe blow to the Norwegian forces. Meanwhile, the Norwegians decided to set up their positions at Neiden. It was a strategically important place, as this strip of land was only 15 km wide, and through Neiden ran the only road leading from Kirkenes to the rest of Norway. 5 km to the west was Finland, and Neidenfjorden was located to the east. Elements of the Øst-Finnmark Heimevernsdistrikt 18, Grensekompaniet and a mechanised unit consisting of CV 9030s and a three NM-142 tank hunters.
Meanwhile, the Norwegian Army began mobilizing for war, and the Norwegian Army decided to set up a defensive defence line around Alta, where they would hold off the Russians for as long as possible in order to give U.S. and British NATO forces to deploy in Northern Norway. In Northern Norway, Panserbataljonen, 2. bataljon and Artilleribataljonen along with their support units set out from their bases in Setermoen and Skjold, and marched to set up a defensive line around Alta. However, after having advanced between 40 and 60 km they had to halt due to the destruction of bridges at Målselv and Sjold in the area by the Russian Air Force. However, by midnight they had managed to continue the advance. At the same time, Telemark Bataljon, the most professional and well-equipped unit of the Norwegian Army, was transported by air, railway and on highways from Rena leir in Østerdalen. The Norwegian government also asked the U.S. for assistance with airlifting a combat unit of Telemark Bataljon deployed in Afghanistan as a QRF at the PRT Meymaneh from Afghanistan to Tromsø, as they did not have the capacity to do this themselves.
Day 2: Battle of Neiden
The Russian operations continued with full strength the next day, with aerial bombardements of several Norwegian bases, military positions, bridges that were still intact, and as well the Bodø Main Air Station. F-16 fighter aircraft of the Norwegian Air Force fought back as hard as they could, and managed to show down an additional Tu-95 and a Tu-22M over Bodø and Tromsø, but lost three of their own to enemy anti-aircraft fire and air-to-air missiles of Su-27s. The primary spokesman of of the Russian Armed Forces, General Anatoliy Nogovitsyn, announced that Russia managed to establish air superiority in the theatre, but Norwegian and NATO sources claimed that this was not the case.
Meanwhile, the Russian ground forces prepared themselves for the first serious battle of the war. At Neiden, the Norwegians had dug themselves in and was prepared for a Russian assault. The Norwegian soldiers consisted of Home Guard soldiers of the Øst-Finnmark Heimevernsdistrikt 18, Grensekompaniet and a mechanised unit consisting of NM209s and a three NM142 tank hunters. They were also equipped with a few 81 mm mortars and 12.7 mm heavy machine guns. Neiden was a small settlement with 250 inhabitants, located strategically a narrow strip of land, with the river Neidenelva to the east and the Finnish border 10 km to the West. Thus, there were not much room for manoeuvrering around it. General Gerasimov thus planned to attack them first with motorised units after an artillery barrage and air attacks, and then attack their flanks with armoured elements.
At 10:06 A.M. the Russians opened fire on the Norwegian positions in and around Neiden. 122 mm 2S1 Gvodzdika and 152 mm 2S3 Akatsiya self-propelled howitzers provided artillery fire, while Su-25s and Tu-22 attacked the positions from the air. The barrage lasted for one hour and 12 minutes. At 11:30 A.M. the Russian began the attack on Neiden, when elements 41st Motor Rifle Brigade attacked from the south. Resistance was moderate; Norwegian home guard infantry equipped with machine guns and light anti-tank weapons. Twenty minutes later elements of the 138th Motor Rifle Brigade attacked the Norwegians from the east, encountering similar resistance.
However, as the Russians distracted the Norwegians to the south, the Russian began the main attack: at 1:10 P.M. the T-62, T-72 and T-80 tanks of the 4th Guards Kantemirovskaya Tank Division's 12th Tank Regiment, supported by a company of the 423rd Guards Iampolski Motor Rifle Regiment began the assault on the Norwegians positions northwest of Neiden. The Russians broke through and advanced towards Neidenelva. Now the fighting between the Russians and the Norwegians in Neiden got confusing for both sides, which were proven when the local Statoil gas station exploded in a giant fireball. The Norwegians believed the Russians were behind them, and thus began withdrawing to the northeast. However, the Norwegians were saved when the three NM142 tank hunters began firing on the Russian tanks, while the NM209s engaged the mechanised infantry. The Russians were taken by surprise, and after 4 Russian tanks and 3 BMP-2s had been destroyed by the NM-142s and TOW anti-tank guided missiles, the Russians withdrew to their starting positions.
The Russians attempted a final attack at 4:00 P.M. but this also failed at making any progress. While the Norwegians were severly outnumbered, the Russians had been taken by suprise of the NM-142 tank hunters. Sporadic fighting continued for the rest of the evening. At 11:00 P.M. the Norwegians withdrew from their positions in Neiden, and headed for Tana, 60 km to the north. The final casualty count for the battle were 4 T-72s, 3 BMP-2s and 2 BTR-80s lost, 6 armoured vehicles damaged, 58 soldiers killed and 67 wounded. The Norwegians casualties mounted to 63 killed, 82 wounded and two NM-209s lost.
Day 3-4: Russian advance continues
Day 5-6: Battle of Tana
The Norwegian defences consisted of 500 Norwegian soldiers; 200 regular army soldiers and 300 soldiers of Homeguard militia, supported by mortars, heavy machine guns, 10 NM-135 and the two NM-142. At noon the Norwegians were reinforced by a platoon of Leopard 1A5N main battle tanks as well as five CV 9030 infantry fighting vehicles. While the Leopard 1A5N was obsolete compared to the Russian tanks and withdrawn from service, the extra firepower was welcomed by the Norwegian soldiers.
After the Russian victory at Neiden, the Russian Ground Forces sung north and attacked Tana in force, despite the fact that it had little stratigic value. It would prove to be the first Russian mistake of the war. The Norwegian forces were very much dug in at this point, and inflicted casualties among the advancing Russian troops.The CV 90930 proved particualy effective, destroying 16 BTRs and 5 BMPs from dug in positions. Three Russian tanks were destroyed, and another three damaged. However, it just wasnt enough. After a day and a half of being pounded by Russian armor, artillery, and bombers, the surviving Norwegians were forced to withdrawl yet again. 115 Norwegians were killed in the fighting, and 202 wounded. As they retreated, the Norwegian soilders in the open were mercilessly attacked form the air by enemy Su-25 close support jets and Hind-24 gunship helicopters.
It was a bittersweet victory for Russia. Noone knows the exact Russian death toll, but experts estimate about 90 Russians were killed, and about twice that many wounded, making the Battle of Tana the bloodiest single battle of the war (this is true for both Norway and Russia).
Phase 2: NATO intervenes
Despite the defeat at Tana, the Norwegians now received some good news: In Tromsø, the first NATO forces had reached Norway. These were the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, and two Brigade Combat Teams (so-called Stryker Brigades), the 5th and 4th Brigades of the 2nd Infantry Division.
Phase 3: The invasion stalls
December 10, 2010
US Marines are sent to help defend Norway.
Phase 4: Operation Cold Response
Phase 5: The final days
Peace plan: Roadmap to end of military hostilities
- See main article:International reaction to the Russo-Norwegian War
In response to the war, Russia faced strong condemnation and criticism by most of the international community. Russia was met by condemnation from NATO, the UN Secretary-General, the OSCE Chairman, the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the European Commission, Foreign Ministers of the G7, due to alleged violation of Norway's territorial integrity without provocation.
Several NATO members including Estonia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States promised to send military and humanitarian aid to Norway. U.S. President Barack Obama condemned the Russian aggression, saying that "Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century." France and Germany, despite their condemnation of the Russian attack, took a mostly intermediate position, calling for an end of hostilities on both sides.
The war also sparked condemnation from neutral countries such as Sweden and Finland. Carl Bildt, Swedish Foreign Minister and Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, was quoted as saying that Russia's claims it was securing its rightful maritime territory "kept resembling the doctrine Hitler used little more than half a century ago to undermine and attack substantial parts of central Europe". The majority of the Swedish population urged the Swedish government to send military aid to Norway, thus breaking the Swedish neutrality in force since 1814.
Russian policy of was supported by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation although the SCO Group didn't back it explicitly, as well as by Belarus. Cuba, Iran and Venezuela also criticized Norway for allegedly "provoking Russia by seizing natural resources in Russian territorial waters".
At the United Nations Security Council, Russia blocked U.S., British, French and Danish calls for an immediate ceasefire. The United Nations Security Council called on September 11 "for an immediate halt to all violence and withdrawal of Russian forces".
- Norway – Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg condemned the Russian attack, saying that the Russians had launched an unprovoked attack, and said that the disputed areas were internationally recognised as Norwegian territorial waters. The Norwegian government also called for their NATO allies to support them, and the UN to mediate in the conflict. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jonas Gahr Støre, called for Russia to participate in a "dialogue based on mutual respect and tolerance" in order to resolve the conflict.
- Russia – Prime Minister Vladimir Putin declared in a statement that "the Norwegian government has purposely violated international law by seizing natural resources in Russian territorial waters. We are acting in self defence, and the military operation will continue until Norway give up their claims on the disputed waters. This is a matter between the Norwegian and Russian governments."
- United States – U.S. President Barack Obama condemned the Russian aggression, saying that the "Russian act of aggression on our fellow NATO member is totally unacceptable". He called for an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council and the North Atlantic Council, as well as and promised to work with the EU and the OSCE to put diplomatic pressure on Russia.
- United Kingdom –
- Denmark – Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen condemned the attack, and expressd his deepest sympathies and solidarity for the Norwegian people. He also promised to send military support, urging fellow NATO members to do the same, and called upon the UN to quickly put an end to this conflict.
- Sweden – Swedish Prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt condemned the Russian attack, while Foreign Minister Carl Bildt was quoted as saying that Russia's claims it was securing its rightful maritime territory "kept resembling the doctrine Hitler used little more than half a century ago to undermine and attack substantial parts of central Europe".
International organisations and NGOs
- NATO – NATO condemned the Russian attack, and during an emergency summit at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels on September 12, the member states agreed to invoke Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty. Estonia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
- European Union – A spokesman for the European Union’s Foreign Policy Chief, Javier Solana, condemned the attack and called "for an immediate ceasefire", and Belgium, which held the EU presidency, condemned the Russian act of violence. The European Commission has expressed "deep concern" about the humanitarian situation.
- United Nations – Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the Russian attack, and called for an immediate ceasefire. The President of the UN General Assembly criticised the "disfunctionality" of the UN Security Council.
Major protests against Russia were held world-wide in Oslo and many other towns around Norway, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, Reykjavík, Tallinn, Riga, Vilnius, London, Paris, Berlin, Prague, Warsaw, Tbilisi, Kiev, Amsterdam, Dublin, Madrid and dozens of American cities.
In Russia demonstrations were primarily held in support of the operation, while there were a few instances of protests against it.
Financial market reaction
AFP reported that unidentified analysts believed that Russian stock exchange declines in have been attributed to "a mix of falling energy prices, global market turmoil and political issues including worries over the war with Norway."
The Norwegian financial markets also suffered negative consequences. On September 12 the OBX Index of Oslo Stock Exchange Norwegian: Oslo Børs) dropped 8.6%, its third largest drop ever in one day, mainly due to the quick spike in oil prices and the Russian bombings of the LNG Gas terminals at Melkøya and Garnvik. The OBX Index continuedto drop for the following two weeks, though not as dramatic as on September 12.
An extensive information war was conducted during the military conflict.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin accused foreign media of pro-Norwegian bias in their coverage of the conflict between Norway and Russia. "We want television screens in the West to be showing not only Russian tanks, and texts saying Russia is at war with Norway, but also to be showing the war-mongering behaviour of the Norwegian government. This would be an objective way of presenting the material," he said in a statement to Russian news agencies. Western media coverage of the events in the Northern Norway is "a politically motivated version" in the eyes of government officials. Western media editors disagreed with this view, however, The Washington Post arguing that Moscow was engaging in "mythmaking".
Russia Today TV accused CNN of presenting video footage made by Russia Today TV in Northern Norway as pictures of bombed Alta and Bodø. The Western media has defended its coverage, with Chris Birkett, executive editor of Sky News saying: "I don't think there’s been a bias. Accusations of media bias are normal in times of war. We’ve been so busy with the task of newsgathering and deployment that the idea we've managed to come up with a conspiratorial line in our reporting is bananas. We have been accused of this by the Russians in our coverage of the conflict with Georgia, so it is rather they who are trying to get the popular support of the rest of the world by mythmaking." CNN has also defended its coverage.
On September 17 the The New York Times reported that while Russian authorities "have given Western journalists little or no access" to areas under its control, "Russian journalists are allowed to move around freely." Meanwhile, Der Spiegel reported that Lev Gudkov, director of the Levada Center, claimed that "On [Russian] TV there is hardly any free reporting — instead you see a lot of very aggressive propaganda." He claimed summarily it was reminiscent of the worst of times in the Soviet era.
Russia Today TV reported that Europe’s largest magazine, Der Spiegel, was accused by one of its staff members, Pavel Kassin, of propaganda and taking a pro-American stance. Kassin said he sent 29 pictures showing attrocities against Russian citizens living in Norway, but was shocked to find that none of them appeared in the issue released the following Monday. Kassin had been working there for 18 years and has never before had any problems getting his photographs published. "Could it be that the most liberal, democratic and independent magazine has gone down the road of ideological one-sided propaganda?" he said. "In my view this is one of the rare cases when Spiegel has taken a pro-American one-sided stance. According to Kassin the photos were rejected on political reasons.
During the war, Norwegian and Russian websites were attacked by hackers, including several Norwegian governmental pages that became briefly unreachable. In response Denmark sent two specialists in information security from the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) Denmark to Norway, and Norway's Ministry of Foreign Affairs website was hosted on a Danish server. The Office of the Prime Minister of Sweden provided the website for dissemination of information and helped to get access to the Internet for Norway's government after breakdowns of local servers caused by cyberattacks. Denmark was also reportedly attacked in revenge by Russia and Chechnya.