'The state of affairs on the Northern flank'
The primary motivation of Russia in the Arctic and the High North seems - at least for the time being - to be stability through display of strength and deterrence. The presence of oil and gas and important minerals make the Arctic an important future source of income. Not only for Russia, but also for other countries. If conflict erupts between NATO and Russia, or if Russia feels otherwise threatened, the Russian response will presumably be an Iron Fist in the North, even if the conflict starts elsewhere. Russia has a dual interest in this, both wanting to protect its economic interests but also its strategic important second strike ICBM capabilities such as the strategic nuclear ICBM submarines from the Northern Fleet. This could happen through the activation of the Russian Bastion Defense doctrine and through the extensive use of EW and air denial operations, inspired from the battleground of Eastern Ukraine.
What is the truth about the readiness of Norway on the Northern Flank? Will Norway be able to push back until Allied reinforcements are available? What if a conflict on the Northern Flank is not the first, but the second, scenario NATO has to deal with? How will that effect the dynamics within NATO.
As an outsider and former insider, Kjetil Stormark can discuss these challenges far more freely than the current Norwegian military and political leadership. Stormark will also touch into challenges related to lack of situational awareness from the North, as well as increasing friction behind closed doors between Norway and some of its close allies. Norway is one of the richest countries in the world. If such a NATO member is perceived to be unwilling to pay for a sufficient national defense and also uninterested in achieving the 2 percent goal set at the NATO summit in Wales in September 2014, that might not influence positively on dynamics and willingness on part of other NATO members to send troops to die in Norway to protect the sovereignty of such a nation.
Kjetil Stormark (47) is the editor-in-chief of Aldrimer.no, a Norwegian online newspaper which is newsleading on matters of national and regional security, defense and international affairs. He is an award-winning reporter, editor, author and director of 13 TV documentaries. Stormark has been in the media industry for over 30 years, but has also held positions with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as press counsellor for the Norwegian Mission to the UN in New York in 2001-2002, when Norway was a member of the Security Council (SC). Stormark was a part of the Norwegian SC team. Stormark is a former Director of media communications and crisis management at the Oslo office of the Nordic PR consultancy firm JKL AB, with main office in Sweden. He has been the editor-in-chief and managing editor of three different newspapers in Norway, as well a staff reporter for Verdens Gang and Dagsavisen in Oslo, also covering matters of national security, defense, terrorism and intelligence. Stormark has previously been a stringer in Norway for the Sunday Times of London. He is currently a member of the Advisory Board of the annual Nordic IT Security conference in Stockholm, Sweden.
Stormark has published two books on the 2011 terrorist attacks in Norway.