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Norway’s Prime Minister on Ukraine: ‘The War Must Stop’

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre believes the world – with remarkable resistance – is on the same page: “War must stop”.

“I heard it from China. I heard it from India. I heard this from fellow Africans. And I think that’s an important message because Russia tried to say ‘no, there are different points of view,’” Støre told the Associated Press on Thursday after the UN Security Council meeting. But in this there was consistency. The war has to stop.

As a member of NATO whose border with Russia extends over 100 miles (just under 200 kilometers), Norway’s geographic and geopolitical location proved to be relevant in the context of the crisis. He is also an elected member of the Security Council.

Støre made a strong assessment of the way in which Russian President Vladimir Putin has tried to justify Russia’s actions.

“President Putin’s narrative when he is giving a reason to mobilize and continue the war, I believe that narrative is false. It’s not true,” Støre told the AP. “I mean, it’s based on the fact that Russia is under threat, pressure, is under some kind of attack from the West. I’m a prime minister in a NATO country and bordering Russia, a European country, I belong in the West or whatever you call it, but that’s just not true.”

Støre does not believe Russia poses a threat to Norway’s territorial integrity, but called the aggression “unacceptable”. He also criticized the late arrival and early departure of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov from the meeting.

“He chose not to hear any of the interventions. He spoke and walked away after speaking, which to me is a sign of, in a way, insecurity,” he said.

Since the beginning of the war, Norway has supplanted Russia as Europe’s biggest natural gas supplier. So far, Norway has resisted the European Union’s demand for gas price caps, with Støre telling the AP that the caps “would not solve the fundamental issue, which is the scarcity of gas”.

Støre is an advocate of renewable energy sources, particularly offshore wind farms, and thinks the conflict-driven energy crisis could accelerate change – “paradoxically, it will help”.

Norway is a founding member of NATO and within the Schengen Area, but it is not a member of the European Union. Although Støre’s party supports membership, the prospect has been grim for the Norwegian population.

Støre says a “pretty stable majority” prefers the status quo, but he has seen “some” movement in opinion polls. Pointing to Sweden’s and Finland’s recent policy shift, he said the war highlighted the importance of NATO.

However, any decision on further sanctions on Russia would be taken jointly with Europe, Støre said.

The war and past tensions absorbed much of Norway’s two-year tenure on the Security Council, but Støre – a former foreign minister – said he was proud of the role his diplomats played in trying to resolve other quagmire, including returning a UN presence for Afghanistan and access to humanitarian aid in Syria.

“We managed to be a kind of intermediary. When the great powers have deep disagreements, we can play that role. And I think we did it in a way that we can look back with some satisfaction,” he said. “There are still a few months to go and we will be active until the last day.”


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