Recall this “news” story on Dec 1, 2014 of a Russian and Norwegian jet almost colliding.
Russia and Norway are business partners and Igor Sechin was in Norway on Oct 30 for meetings on more oil business.
Note that Norway’s Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide is trying to push for more defense industry spending
Norwegian F-16 in Near-Miss With Russian Fighter Jet
Norway’s Armed Forces Release Video of Pilot Dodging Russian MiG-31
OSLO—The Norwegian Armed Forces released a video of a Russian fighter jet flying uncomfortably close to a Norwegian F-16, highlighting potential collision risks when intercepting Russian aircraft in international airspace on behalf of NATO.
The release of the video on Sunday follows a series of publications by Norwegian defense authorities regarding encounters with Russian aircraft this year, and it marks another sign of escalating concern among North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies over Moscow’s increased military activity.
NATO recently warned of potential risks to civil aviation when it reported a tripling of Russian aircraft interceptions this year compared with last year, with most of the increase in the Baltic region and elsewhere in Europe.
According to Norway’s armed forces, the video shows a Russian MiG-31 suddenly cut in front of one of two Norwegian aircraft sent up by NATO to intercept Russian aircraft in international airspace north off Norway. “What the hell,” says the Norwegian F-16 pilot in the video, as he dodges the MiG-31 passing him at a distance estimated to be closer than 20 meters (65 feet).
Norwegian Armed Forces spokesman Brynjar Stordal declined to say when the incident occurred, but said close calls such as this are rare.
“We could have had a collision between the aircraft,” he said. “The pilot has a spontaneous reaction in the video, and both his comment and the evasive maneuver indicate that this is unwanted … We don’t know if this was a mistake by the Russian pilot, or a sign of a more aggressive behavior by the Russians.”
Russian aircraft have been flying more frequently and farther south along the Norwegian coast in recent years, according to Norway’s Ministry of Defense. Norwegian F-16s were scrambled to intercept Russian aircraft 41 times last year and 43 times so far this year, compared with only 16 occasions in 2005.
‘We don’t know if this was a mistake by the Russian pilot, or a sign of a more aggressive behavior by the Russians.’
“I don’t think there’s a special need for worry, but we are of course monitoring the activity,” Minister of Defense Ine Eriksen Søreide said in an emailed statement.
Ms. Søreide said it was legitimate for the Russian military to exercise, also in international airspace, but that “Russia, like everyone else, must abide with international aviation laws and regulations. It is unacceptable that Russian planes create dangerous situations in European airspace….”
On Sunday, Norwegian defense authorities also released a fresh video of a previously reported Oct. 31 encounter between Norwegian F-16s and Russia’s newest jet fighter, the Su-34, off the coast of Norway. The observation marked the first time the Su-34 was spotted flying in international airspace off Norway.
Authorities said the armed forces have picked up a new trend among Russian military pilots, alleging they are flying in larger formations and acting more aggressively than before.
Putin’s ‘oil czar’ visits Norway
He’s been banned from entering the United States, but top Russian oil executive Igor Sechin was in Norway on Thursday for business meetings with Norwegian state oil company Statoil, according to a report in newspaper Aftenposten. Sechin is considered a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and subject to sanctions imposed by the US against Russia last spring.
Norway has gone along with similar sanctions imposed by the EU following Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, but they do not include the same travel bans against Putin’s inner circle. The sanctions do, however, affect the energy sector and include bans on the export of technology that can be used for oil exploration and drilling in deep water and in the Arctic. Russia responded with sanctions against Norway, the EU and many other countries, halting all imports of Norwegian fish and other food products for the next year.
Russian companies still apparently want to do business with Norway in the oil and gas sector, though. As president of Russia’s largest oil company, Rosneft, Sechin reportedly traveled to Norway to clarify the degree to which the sanctions against Russia affect Rosneft’s operations and cooperation with Norwegian companies. Aftenposten reported that Sechin, who served as deputy prime minister of the Russian Federation from 2008 to 2012 and previously held a top position in the Executive Office of the President of the Russian Federation, also was meeting with other companies and suppliers within Norway’s oil and gas sector. A source in Moscow told Aftenposten that Sechin would travel to Stavanger, known as Norway’s oil capital, and depart Norway on Friday.
Statoil signed a major deal with Rosneft two years ago involving oil exploration in the Barents Sea, and set up several joint ventures last year to search for oil in both the Okhotsk and Barents seas and cooperate on shale oil projects. Several other Norwegian companies have been doing business with Rosneft as well, while Statoil’s former chief executive Helge Lund noticeably stayed away from an economic forum in St Petersburg last spring because of the political tensions with Russia.
Now the Norwegian oil companies along with all others in the EU must comply with sanctions against Russia and Statoil insists it is complying, despite what it calls its “strategic cooperation” with Rosneft.
Neither Statoil nor state officials would comment, however, on Sechin’s visit or meetings with Norway’s state-controlled and largest company.
“We can’t confirm or deny that a such a meeting is taking place,” Knut Rostad, information chief for Statoil, told Aftenposten. “We don’t normally talk about meetings in our ongoing operations with our business partners.”
He did say that Statoil has an “ongoing dialogue” with Norwegian authorities regarding projects it has with Russian companies, “to make sure that we don’t violate the sanctions.”
Officials in the Norway’s foreign ministry had no specific comment on Sechin’s visit, noting that Norwegian companies have no obligation to inform state authorities about any visits or meetings with people who are not listed in the sanctions. While Sechin is banned from visiting the US and from having any business transactions with American citizens and corporations, the EU sanctions are not as strict. The foreign ministry noted that there are no travel restrictions on companies listed in the sanctions, either.
Norway’s Statoil partners with Rosneft despite Russia sanctions
18 August 2014
Russian state energy giant Rosneft has partnered with Norway’s Statoil to search for oil in the Arctic, despite Western sanctions against Moscow.
The Kremlin-controlled firm said the two companies had “started exploration operations” in the Norwegian section of the Barents Sea.
Norway has joined Brussels in enforcing tough measures against Russia over its alleged backing of rebels in Ukraine.
Rosneft and its head Igor Sechin have been targeted in the sanctions.
This has restricted the company’s access to international funding, forcing it last week to publicly ask the Kremlin for a $42bn (£25.2bn) loan.
British oil company BP, which owns almost 20% of Rosneft, said it would not sever ties with the Russian firm and earlier this month, Rosneft also announced a joint exploration off the northern coast of Siberia with US oil major ExxonMobil.
As part of the sanctions, the European Union has banned equipment and technology exports for new projects in deep water, Arctic or shale oil for one year.
Moscow has retaliated by imposing a “full embargo” on food imports from the EU.
In a statement to announce the deal with Statoil on Monday, Rosneft said that “the start of these exploration operations marks an important milestone in developing the cooperation between Rosneft and Statoil”.
Norway DM Urges NATO Members To Expand Military Capabilities, Areas of Interest
Norway Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide has urged NATO members to further develop their military capabilities. (Ministry of Defense)
Ine Eriksen Søreide, who became defense minister in October, said engagement in the Asia-Pacific region is “crucial for global stability.
“What happens in the Asia-Pacific will have global impact and could have consequences also for Norway,” Søreide said Wednesday during a speech at the Atlantic Council think tank. “Therefore we need to be engaged.”
The minister touted that Norway is sending a frigate to the US Navy’s Rim of the Pacific exercise in Hawaii next month. It is the first time Norway is participating in the exercise.
“Our participation also sends a broader message: Norway cares about US security interests, even halfway across the globe,” she said.
US officials have been pushing NATO allies to join the Pentagon’s rebalance, or pivot, to the Pacific as the alliance withdraws from more than a decade of operations in Afghanistan.
American officials have also been pressing alliance members to invest more strategically in defense.
“We need to stop the decline in defense spending,” Søreide said. “Cuts need to be reversed. We need to agree on a way in which we, over time, can achieve the goal of spending 2 percent of our [gross domestic product] on defense and 20 percent of our defense budgets on investments.”
Søreide said investments must be made on the right military capabilities.
NATO defense spending has been a hot topic, particularly in recent months in the lead up to the alliance’s September summit in Wales and following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Søreide also laid out five key areas the alliance needs to address.
■ European countries need to better share intelligence to gain more insight into its surrounding security environment, Søreide said.
“It is a paradox that NATO seems to be caught off guard when crises such as Crimea and Georgia occur,” she said. “Our lack of sufficient situational awareness damages our credibility, it impairs our ability to provide for collective security.”
National military headquarters must be linked with NATO’s headquarters, Søreide said. This would allow countries to share information directly with NATO.
■ The alliance needs a “more robust and active command structure, which can conduct the full spectrum of alliance tasks in an effective way,” the minister said.
■ Countries also need to improve the readiness of their forces.
“[W]e should review current readiness requirements for NATO’s reaction force,” Søreide said. “Rapid reaction for NATO should mean days not months.”
■ The alliance also needs to update its contingency plans, an area in which she said progress is being made.
■ Lastly, Søreide said NATO countries need to conduct more training and exercises, based on “high-end, full spectrum scenarios.”