Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre Address to the Storting

Mr President, A century ago – at the beginning of 1922 – Fridtjof Nansen made his most well-known political observation. ‘Charity is realpolitik,’ he said. He was talking about the famine that was raging during the Russian civil war, and that also had a severe impact on Ukraine. It was a profound and prescient remark. Made just after the First World War. And less than 20 years after Norway had become an independent country.

I am starting this address with this observation by Nansen, Mr President, because it is still true today. It still offers insight. It highlights the link between morality and self-interest.

It places us within a European and global community where we share a common destiny, where we are a piece of a bigger picture. Our security and welfare are dependent on the well-being and security of others. On people and states achieving peace and working together to address the major challenges of our time, challenges such as climate change that can only be resolved through cooperation. 

Eight months after Russia invaded Ukraine, we are seeing all too clearly how much is at stake. Above all, for the millions of people in Ukraine who are directly affected by the horrors of the war and the suffering it has brought. But also for Europe, which is having to come to grips with the situation and take the right decisions in response to Russia’s war of aggression and ongoing readiness to use military force on a large scale.


Mr President,

As we realised already on 24 February, Russia’s attack represents a watershed moment for our continent.

Our task now is to deal with the situation we find ourselves in calmly and firmly, and to ensure a united response.

We are now contending with the most challenging security situation in Europe since the Second World War.

Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, has taken a huge risk.

And his willingness to take risks appears to be growing as Russia encounters setbacks on the battlefield.

The messages we are receiving from the Russian leadership suggest that Russia is steering towards a long-term rift with the West.

But an isolated Russia is not good for anyone, Mr President. The fact that there is so little contact and direct communication with Russia is cause for concern.

It undermines the prospects of achieving a negotiated end to the war.

And it increases the likelihood of further escalation and wider use of hard instruments of power. Bringing more destruction. More suffering.

So far, it is Ukraine’s civilian population that has been paying the highest price.

But no one is untouched by the war in Ukraine. It is having global ramifications.

There is an energy crisis. A cost-of-living crisis. This is affecting the most vulnerable people, in Europe, and elsewhere – vulnerable people in countries that are facing hunger and life-threatening shortages of food and other essentials.

The brutality and destructive momentum of the war are putting us all to the test.

We must be prepared for the unexpected. For more uncertainty. More instability. The very core of democracy is under threat: the ability to stand together, speak the truth and defend our freedom.

Russia is meeting tough resistance in Ukraine. This is due to the unwavering determination of the Ukrainian people to fight back against the invasion. And it is due to the support Ukraine is receiving from some 50 countries.

Now that the Ukrainians are making gains on the ground, we must assume that Russia will seek to weaken their resistance in other ways; firstly, through targeted attacks on the civilian population and the energy system. This will literally plunge millions of Ukrainians into darkness. Secondly, by spreading uncertainty and fear among people in the countries that are supporting Ukraine’s legitimate fight – with the aim of reducing or bringing an end to that support.

All this, Mr President, is why I have requested the opportunity to give this address.

I want to brief the Storting on recent developments, on what these mean for our everyday lives, and on how the Government is responding to the many challenges arising as a result of Russia’s actions. And I want to invite the Storting to stand together with the nation in these challenging times, knowing full well that what lies ahead could be even more difficult.


Mr President,

We are dealing with a Russian leadership that is guided by mistrust and fear.

Mistrust of a world that it is convinced wishes Russia ill. Fear of openness, freedom of expression and democracy in Western countries. Fear of voices that are critical of the regime. Fear of the Russian population.

Russia today is displaying clear totalitarian traits. We have seen totalitarian regimes before. They have a strong facade. But behind this facade they take decisions based on fear and uncertainty, often compensated for with repressive control and brutality.

Recently, we have seen signs of open criticism of the regime from within.

Some of this has come from liberal voices, but just as much appears to be coming from more reactionary quarters.

There is no genuine or unified opposition. But the critics are there.

This is putting pressure on the regime.

Pressure to deliver on the narrative that was intended to legitimise a military operation in Ukraine, but that rapidly evolved into something very different.

And pressure to explain the weaknesses of the Russian military machine that have been exposed. Poor leadership. Poor logistics. Outdated equipment. And low morale among Russian soldiers.

Everything suggests that Russia’s plan was to secure a quick Ukrainian capitulation.   

But that was not how things turned out.

In recent weeks, Ukraine has inflicted a series of defeats on Russia.  

But there are no indications that the Russian leadership has paused to reconsider its ruthless tactics. Instead, Russia has chosen to escalate the conflict.

Through a mass mobilisation at home. Through the annexation of Ukrainian regions. And through brutal air strikes on Ukrainian cities.

The mobilisation process has been chaotic and random. The soldiers that have been mobilised are poorly trained. They do not have the appropriate equipment. And they appear to lack motivation.  

But the mobilisation demonstrates the regime’s willingness to continue the war. And its willingness to sacrifice the lives of thousands of its own people.

Four Ukrainian regions have been annexed following illegal referendums.

The annexation is a clear violation of international law. It has no legal legitimacy and, with very few exceptions, has not been recognised by other states. Apart from Russia, only Syria, North Korea, Nicaragua and Belarus voted against a resolution in the UN General Assembly condemning the annexation.


Mr President,

Ukraine will need massive military and economic support for a long time to come.

During my visit to Kyiv in July, I announced an increase in Norwegian support of NOK 10 billion for this year and next year.

This is in addition to the NOK 2 billion in humanitarian aid announced when the war started, and the costs associated with weapons deliveries.  

When the Storting has debated the proposition on amendments to the 2022 budget (Prop 142 S), we will be able to follow up on the pledge announced in the summer. 

Norway’s support will be provided along four main tracks:

We will continue to support Ukraine’s fight, including by providing essential military equipment.

We will support the efforts of Norwegian and international humanitarian organisations to save lives and protect civilians. We have evacuated 105 Ukrainian patients for treatment in Norway under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM). Twenty-seven of these have been wounded soldiers. We have also transported 341 patients on behalf of other recipient countries – a quarter of all the patients that have been evacuated under the UCPM have been transported with assistance from Norway.

We are shouldering our share of the burden, and we will continue to support Ukraine.

We will provide NOK 2 billion to help Ukraine procure natural gas for the coming winter. In addition, we are considering how we can assist with repairs to the parts of the power grid that have been damaged by Russia.  

And we will provide budget support to Ukraine via the World Bank to enable the Ukrainian government administration to maintain critical services.  

Norway is providing substantial support, but the needs are enormous and they are growing.

In the long term, the reconstruction of Ukraine will be a task of historic proportions.

According to EU estimates, the costs of reconstruction and long-term assistance will be over NOK 3 500 billion. That is equal to nearly twice Norway’s national budget.

We must therefore target our support carefully so that we can offer assistance where it is needed.

And we know that new contributions will be needed from Norway, both financial contributions and other more direct forms of support. We will present a more detailed assessment of this to the Storting in due course.


Mr President,

Our support is aimed at safeguarding freedom and democracy, and enabling Ukrainians themselves to decide over their own country and their own future.

But it is also aimed at defending the principles that underpin freedom and peace in Europe – respect for international law and internationally recognised national borders. A threat to these principles is a threat to us all.

If Ukraine had surrendered quickly in February or March, this would have sent a dangerous signal about what can be achieved with military force on our continent. Ukraine’s right to self-defence is unequivocal. And we, together with many other countries, have an unequivocal right to support Ukraine in exercising its right to self-defence.

That is why Norway is providing military equipment to Ukraine and military training to Ukrainian soldiers.

In the first few days after the invasion, we donated personal protective gear and M72 anti-tank weapons. Since then, we have donated Mistral air defence missiles, Hellfire anti-tank missiles, a substantial amount of artillery and large quantities of grenades for artillery. We have cooperated with the UK on the donation of long-range MLRS rocket artillery systems.

We are supporting the US in connection with a donation of the NASAMS air defence system, which was developed in Norway. This is important to help Ukraine defend its cities against Russian air and missile strikes. 

We are providing winter clothing and equipment to the Ukrainian armed forces.

We are training Ukrainian personnel, in Norway and in third countries, in the use and maintenance of the systems we are donating. Training and exercises will be an increasingly important part of our support to Ukraine.

The Government has provided NOK 400 million to a UK-led fund for military support for Ukraine.

So far, we have mainly donated equipment that had already been phased out of, or was being phased out of, our own Armed Forces. The donations have therefore had little impact on the operational capacity of the Norwegian Armed Forces or our national preparedness.

We will ensure that we can maintain Norway’s preparedness, and we will only donate equipment that affects our operational capacity on condition that this equipment will be replaced. 

This type of donation could lead to a reduction in our defence capabilities and national preparedness, at least until replacement equipment has been procured. For this reason, in its proposition to the Storting, the Government has requested the Storting’s consent to donate such equipment if this is considered crucial to support Ukraine’s fight to defend itself.

Mr President, we are also supporting Ukraine by taking in people who have had to flee. So far this year, 34 000 asylum seekers have arrived in Norway. More than 30 000 of them are from Ukraine. Never before have we received so many people seeking protection in such a short space of time.

Scenarios for what lies ahead are uncertain. But we must plan to receive as many as 40 000 displaced Ukrainians in 2022, and we estimate that a further 30 000 will come to Norway in 2023. In addition, there will be asylum seekers and resettlement refugees from other countries.

Even with good planning and a good framework in place, this situation poses, and will continue to pose, significant challenges.

Last Friday, the Government had a meeting with the country’s municipalities to discuss preparedness in general and the refugee reception process in particular. The many municipalities, local communities and individuals who are working so hard to welcome and help people fleeing from the war deserve our thanks. 

We have never settled so many refugees so quickly. So far this year, more people have been settled in Norway than over the four previous years combined.

The Government will continue to take steps to facilitate the reception efforts that may be needed in the months to come.


Mr President,

Over the past year, it has become increasingly clear that Russia is manipulating the European energy market.

We now have a better understanding of why the European gas stores, some of them owned by Gazprom, were not refilled last year. This is one of the factors that caused first gas prices, and then electricity prices, to start to rise in autumn 2021.

For Russia, energy has become a weapon. To be used to support its war in Ukraine and put pressure on European countries – and as a response to Western sanctions.

The purpose seems clear. By imposing high energy prices on our countries, Russia is seeking to weaken Western unity and resolve. To create social and economic instability.

To undermine our willingness and ability to support Ukraine.

And in case there are still any doubts, let me stress this:

Cuts in Russian gas are the single most important reason for the high gas and electricity prices we are seeing today.

The situation we have seen in Norway is playing out all over Europe. Prices have been at record-high levels this autumn, and we are feeling the effects. A sense of despair is spreading among people who are finding it difficult to make ends meet, and companies are being forced to close down.

If this winter is a cold one, several countries will have to ration electricity and gas. And a huge number of people will struggle to pay their bills.

This is the reality our allies, neighbours and trading partners are facing.

Our response, Mr President, has been to take steps to maximise production capacity on the Norwegian continental shelf. As a result, the companies are on track to deliver 122 billion cubic metres of gas in 2022. This is an increase of 8 % from 2021.

This has been of huge significance in Europe. It has made it possible to fill gas stores in advance of winter. It has kept prices lower than they otherwise would have been.

In a short space of time, Norway has become Europe’s largest gas supplier. This role brings with it responsibilities. It makes us more vulnerable and means that our ability to deliver energy is of critical importance to our allies.

The Government takes these responsibilities seriously. Right now, maintaining a stable, high-level of production on the Norwegian continental shelf is the most important contribution we can make to European energy security and stability.

From what I have seen, this is understood and recognised in Europe. We are seen as a reliable partner.

At the same time, it is clear that the current price levels are a source of increasing strain. A number of countries have called for various forms of market intervention that could help bring prices down. This is understandable, Mr President.

Our position is that high and unstable gas prices in Europe are not in Norway’s interests. It is in Norway’s interests for prices to come down, and for the markets to stabilise. This will have a direct impact on electricity prices in southern Norway. It will have a direct impact on European industry – our customers and trading partners. And it will help to reduce social instability in a cost-of-living crisis with runaway inflation, driven not least by high energy prices.

We have had a constructive dialogue with the EU countries and the European Commission on this issue. On the basis of Norway’s knowledge and experience, we have warned against measures that could potentially exacerbate the situation. High prices are just the symptom. The underlying problem is the shortage of energy, primarily gas.

We have a clear aim: Norway is to be part of the solution in liberating Europe from dependence on Russian gas. Both by being a reliable supplier of gas from the Norwegian continental shelf and by spearheading the effort to achieve a rapid increase in renewable energy production.

Over the past few weeks, I have been in close contact with the President of the European Commission. To identify measures and areas where we can work together to address the current acute crisis. And to look ahead to the future.

At the meeting of the European Political Community in Prague, we drafted a joint statement affirming that we have a mutual interest in stabilising the markets, and charting a course for future cooperation on promoting renewable energy, as the long-term solution to the challenges we are now facing.  

There was already a need to increase renewable energy production anyway. We have committed ourselves to implementing a full-scale green energy transformation. Russia’s manipulation of the gas market will accelerate this. This is a paradoxical effect of the war in Ukraine. And Norway and Norwegian companies will do their part to find solutions. Build industry for the future. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And increase Europe’s and our own resilience.


Mr President,

The blasts that damaged the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines were very serious. There is every indication that this was a deliberate act of sabotage. It has drawn attention to the issue of security on the Norwegian continental shelf.   

On this point, I would like first to say this:

The Norwegian Armed Forces have a good overview of activity in our sea areas. There is close cooperation between the civil authorities and private operators on the continental shelf. This provides a good basis for protecting our installations and everyone working there.

It is, and it will continue to be, safe to work on the Norwegian continental shelf. The measures we have implemented are precautionary measures.  

We increased security in February. The operators were informed at that time of the heightened need to safeguard their industrial ICT systems.

Equinor and Gassco are now subject to parts of the Security Act. As a result, certain employees can receive security clearance and can therefore be given access to classified information about security threats.

‘Control of Norwegian oil and gas production’ and ‘transport of gas in pipelines to Europe’ have both been defined as ‘fundamental national functions’. This will enable us to safeguard them more effectively.

The police and the Armed Forces have increased their presence and visibility in the areas close to our oil and gas installations, onshore and offshore.

Over the past two weeks, two Norwegian Coast Guard vessels and a support vessel have been patrolling on the Norwegian continental shelf.

The Home Guard has been assisting the police in ensuring security at four onshore petroleum installations: Kårstø, Nyhamna, Mongstad and Kollsnes.

Allied countries have also increased their presence close to the North Sea, coordinated by the NATO Allied Maritime Command in the UK and the Norwegian Joint Headquarters in Bodø.

The police, the Norwegian Police Security Service and the Norwegian National Security Authority are now working more closely together to protect us against cyber threats. These threats affect not only the Norwegian oil and gas industry, but also other national critical functions.

Let me also add here that a number of measures have been and are being implemented that it is not appropriate to talk about openly.


Mr President,

In recent weeks, there have been reports of unidentified drones close to critical infrastructure in Norway.

A number of Russian citizens have been arrested and placed in custody for flying drones illegally in Norway. The Norwegian Police Security Service is investigating these incidents, and I will therefore not pre-empt their conclusions.

In their annual threat assessments in recent years, both the Police Security Service and the Norwegian Intelligence Service have reported that there is a significant threat of espionage from Russia and China in particular. Their assessment that Russia appears to be willing to take greater chances in its intelligence activities is something we are taking very seriously.

The use of a broad set of instruments, cyber attacks and unwanted drone activity constitute what we call complex threats. They are intended to sow division and create insecurity and instability. They are often difficult to trace back to an individual perpetrator or the activities of specific foreign countries. Contending with these threats requires increased vigilance on the part of all of us, and the police and the intelligence and security services (EOS services) will need to employ new methods. The Government is giving high priority to this work.

During the course of this year, we have implemented a number of measures.

We have heightened preparedness, both civil and military preparedness, in line with updated and well-established plans.

We have provided the police, the Armed Forces and the EOS services with additional resources. And we have stepped up our efforts to counter foreign intelligence activities, sabotage and influence from foreign countries.

The police are working to enhance drone expertise in the police districts, and by the end of the year, there will be more than 100 drone pilots in the police. In addition, we are now spending NOK 57 million on anti-drone equipment. This will increase our operational expertise and capacity to combat threats of this kind.

Sensors that can detect drones have also been installed on several of the platforms on the Norwegian continental shelf. Recent weeks have shown that our increased vigilance has resulted in more reports of drone activity. This is good, Mr President. And I would like to add that this is also because we have stepped up other surveillance activities.

The Government and the various relevant authorities will continue to give this high priority. But we cannot do this alone. We must work together to maintain and strengthen our resilience.

We will therefore work to equip everyone – individuals, enterprises and the authorities – with greater knowledge of the security challenges we face and of what can be done to address them as effectively as possible.


Mr President,

The most important task of any government is to safeguard the country and its freedom.

In the 2023 budget, the Government is allocating more funding for national security and preparedness. The Government has also proposed a defence budget of approximately NOK 76 billion for 2023. This is an increase of close to 10 % in nominal terms and of NOK 4.5 billion in real terms, compared with the final 2022 budget.

In the spring, we added an extra NOK 3 billion to the defence budget for 2022. And this autumn, we have allocated a further NOK 3 billion for military support to Ukraine.

Our Armed Forces must be effective and they must be visible. In the 2023 budget, we have therefore given priority to day-to-day, national operations and preparedness, as well as to operational capabilities in situations of crisis and war.

This means providing additional funding for the Norwegian Intelligence Service to enhance our situational awareness. More training with Allied forces, and investment in facilities for receiving them. And the reallocation of funding from long-term investments to meet immediate needs.

We are strengthening the bedrock.

We are expanding the number of personnel more rapidly.

We are reinforcing the Home Guard.

We are filling up our contingency stocks.

We are setting aside more funding for day-to-day operations and maintenance.

And we are facilitating greater Allied activity in our neighbourhood, at sea and in the skies.

When our Allies sail or fly in our neighbourhood, the general rule is that they are accompanied by Norwegian vessels and planes.

This is so that we can train together, but also so that we can influence how these operations are carried out and help to avoid misunderstandings with our neighbour to the east.


Mr President,

The Putin regime has been threatening to use nuclear weapons since the initial invasion in February. As Russia runs out of conventional military instruments, the risk that it will turn to more desperate measures increases.

Threats to use nuclear weapons are irresponsible. This, in itself, is a dangerous escalation, and we condemn it.

Russia has many different types of nuclear weapons, including various categories of what are known as tactical nuclear weapons. These are intended to be used as an extension of conventional weapons systems.

Any use of nuclear weapons would cross an unprecedented red line.

At present, we consider the likelihood of such use to be low. But low does not mean zero. In light of the rhetoric, we cannot rule out the possibility. The probability may be small, but it has increased.

We must assume that the purpose of these threats is to weaken Western solidarity with Ukraine. It is a form of extortion.

And in response – just as with other threats from Russia – it is crucial that we stand together with our allies. That we come together in NATO. Build consensus. Strengthen our cohesion.

And that we work together to send a decisive and unified Allied message to Russia that a nuclear war cannot be won.  

Let me add here:

Norway has a well-developed nuclear emergency preparedness and response system in place, which would be activated if winds carried radioactive fallout towards our country.

We have updated our plans and stand ready to respond effectively to this kind of situation.



Mr President,

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, other members of the Government and I have previously briefed the Storting on how the war in Ukraine has changed our relationship with Russia.

I will not go into it all again here.

It is often pointed out when discussing Norway’s relations with Russia that our two countries have been at peace for 1 000 years. We have lived through different eras, with widely varying opportunities for cooperation and contact.

Until 1990, our border in the north was one of the most tightly sealed borders in the world.

This was followed by a period of opening up and growing cross-border cooperation and contact. In 2010, after nearly 40 years of negotiations, we reached agreement on maritime delimitation in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean.

Over the past few years, we have seen how the Russian regime has been tightening its grip, intimidating organisations and individuals, and impeding the further development of our ties. All this before the attack on Ukraine in February.

The cooperation we enjoyed previously, and that we had worked so hard and so long to develop, has now been reduced to a minimum.

I know that many people are disappointed about this. It is affecting the cultural and business sectors, particularly in the north, and especially in eastern Finnmark.

But this too, Mr President, is a consequence of Russia’s development over the course of many years, involving repeated violations of European norms, and not least Russia’s gross violation of international law – its unprovoked military attack on a neighbouring country.

Regrettably, there is little reason to believe that the situation will improve in the short term.



Mr President,

We cannot choose where we are on the map.

We have a 198-kilometre-long land border with Russia. And a very long maritime border.

Some degree of cross-border cooperation is essential to maintain certain critical public functions, basic security and sustainable resource management. The Government is well aware of this.

But much of this has been scaled down. Cooperation is now limited. And we have been forced to limit it even further.

A recent example is the exemption to the ban on access to ports for fishing vessels. We introduced the exemption in order to safeguard the long-term and sustainable management of fish stocks in the Barents Sea. This is vital to the health and survival of these stocks.

But, because of the risk that the scheme could be abused, we have now tightened restrictions in this area. Russian fishing vessels over 500 gross tonnage are now only permitted access to the ports of Tromsø, Kirkenes and Båtsfjord. And Russian vessels that call at these ports are subject to inspection.

It has been important for the Government to adhere to what has been a guiding principle for Norwegian governments for many years. We act predictably and with a long-term perspective. Our actions are consistent and recognisable.

Norway, the Nordic countries, and NATO pose no threat to anyone. Norway safeguards its security through its own defence capabilities, responsible conduct, and close partnership with NATO and other allies. This is how we will further strengthen security in the Arctic when Sweden and Finland join NATO.


Mr President, in closing:

We are headed for a tough winter. Many people will experience feelings of uncertainty and insecurity.

Many will face a loss of purchasing power. Companies and families alike. In Norway and elsewhere in Europe. In parts of Europe, there could be a real shortage of energy. Many countries will see economic decline.

The situation in Ukraine will remain grave.

The war will leave more death, destruction and suffering in its wake.

We will come under pressure. From both open and covert threats. Aimed at making us halt our support to Ukraine and look the other way.

Let me be absolutely clear about this. That is not going to happen, Mr President.

Like Nansen in 1922, our response combines charity with realpolitik. We will do what it takes to keep Norway safe. We will safeguard what is dear to us.

But we will also look beyond our borders.

We will support Ukraine in its legitimate fight for freedom.

We will do what we can to alleviate the suffering caused by the war, both in and beyond our continent.

We will seek solutions together in the transatlantic community, with NATO as the cornerstone – and in close dialogue with our friends in Europe.

The Ukrainians have shown the world how important it is to stand together. Let us draw inspiration from this in the work that lies ahead. The work to build a safer, greener and fairer society.

Based on democracy. The rule of law. The best of our political culture.

Openness. Trust. A debate rooted in truth and respect. 

It is here, Mr President, that we, as a country, will find the reserves of resilience and strength that we will need in the time ahead.