Prime Minister’s introduction at press conference on the situation in Ukraine

Good evening,  it has been another dramatic night and day in Ukraine.

This morning, many of us woke up to the news that fire had broken out in a building adjacent to Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. The Minister of Justice and Public Security and I have been kept apprised of the situation since last night. Norway has excellent routines for emergency preparedness in this area.

None of the reactors at the nuclear power plant were hit in the attacks. There has been no release of radioactive material from this large Ukrainian power station, which has a total of six reactors.

It is frightening that there has been a direct attack in the vicinity of a nuclear power plant. It tells us something about the brutality and the completely unacceptable nature of the warfare that is taking place.

Even though no radiation leaks have been reported, the potential dangers and risk of accidents remain unusually high.

Many people in Norway are anxious about how to deal with a nuclear emergency. Many remember what happened in Chornobyl many years ago. I understand why people are worried.

That is why it is important for me to stress:

There has been no radiation leak in Ukraine.

Ukraine is 1 500 kilometres from Norway.
There is no immediate danger that Norway will be affected.
Norway has a good nuclear emergency preparedness and response system if something does happen.
The Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority is monitoring the situation closely.

The radiation monitoring stations in Ukraine are providing updated information, and our authorities have access to real time data. If anything happens we will be able to measure it and register it.

If anything does happen, we will know about it a relatively long time before it affects us, depending on the wind direction. There will be time to send out a warning to everyone in Norway. If such as situation arises, we will advise you on what actions to take.

But as I have stated: there is at present no danger that Norway will be affected – the fire this morning has not led to any change in radiation levels. It is difficult to know precisely what is happening at the nuclear power plant and who is in control. But there is nothing that indicates that the power station is unsafe.

The war in Ukraine has now entered its ninth day.
Over the next few days the situation is likely to deteriorate dramatically.  
Russian forces are advancing into Ukrainian cities, and they are using heavy artillery and cluster munitions – with devastating consequences for civilians. 

This means that, unfortunately, we will be seeing greater civilian losses.
The images we are seeing from Ukraine are harrowing. These images are difficult to absorb even when the full scale of the truth is not immediately obvious.  

They are distressing for children in particular. So I repeat what I have already said: 
All adults should take the time to talk with children about the situation. This can help them understand the painful and difficult things they are seeing.   

For more than a week now, Ukrainian children and adults have sought refuge in provisional bomb shelters or have been displaced.

In the time ahead, we will see even greater numbers of people fleeing west from Ukraine.

More than one million Ukrainians have already left the country.

The UN Refugee Agency estimates that millions more are likely to be forced to flee. 

Several of Ukraine’s neighbouring countries are already contending with a vast flow of refugees. They are managing the situation admirably under the circumstances.

We may be facing the worst humanitarian disaster in Europe since the Second World War.

Norway has started preparations for dealing with this, under the leadership of the Minister of Justice and Public Security. This is a huge task that requires focus on a wide array of details. Like other European countries, the Norwegian Government has decided today to offer temporary collective protection to Ukrainian citizens.

This means that people fleeing from the war in Ukraine will not have to undergo a time-consuming individual application process, and that we can provide more rapid help to those who come to Norway.

Some 300 Ukrainians have already arrived in our country.

Norway stands ready to help, together with neighbouring countries and the countries of Europe. We stand ready to do our part in a large-scale, common European effort.

There are many different ways to contribute. I have been touched to see how municipalities, companies, organisations, individuals and children have been working to collect, or to donate, money. It is moving to witness the willingness to help. This reflects a compassion in our society we can be proud of.

In closing, I would like to make it clear that the Government considers it important to seek solutions that have broad-based support in the Storting. In 2015, the Labour Party and the Centre Party worked to achieve a broad agreement on immigration and integration. Like back then, the point now is that those who are coming to Norway are coming from a situation of war. It is better for them to come to a country where there is agreement on how to receive and assist them.

That is the purview of the Minister of Justice, and I will now hand over to her.