Norway urged to step up Ukraine support after profiting from war | Norway
Norwegian academics, rights activists, best-selling authors and a former minister have urged Oslo to step up support for Ukraine, saying the government must do more to help after earning billions in extra oil and gas revenue from its war with Russia.
In a letter published in tabloid VG, the signatories of the letter, including former Foreign Minister Knut Vollebaek, anthropologist Erika Fatland and Henrik Urdal of the Peace Research Institute in Oslo, said that Norway was “the only country in Europe” that benefited from war.
The wealthy Scandinavian country’s oil and gas revenues rose to a record high in 12 months as energy prices tripled after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Norway replaced Russia as Europe’s biggest supplier of natural gas.
Compared to initial estimates, Oslo’s state budget forecasts an additional €180bn (£160bn) in oil and gas revenue for 2022 and 2023, the signatories wrote, adding that the government’s public pledges to support Ukraine over the same period amounted to just 1 .27 euros. billion
Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre dismissed any suggestion that the country was profiting from the war. “I categorically reject this idea,” Støre told AFP on Tuesday, adding that a major “multi-year support package” would be announced in the coming days.
The letter acknowledged that additional humanitarian and military aid would be forthcoming, and the cost of arms deliveries in particular was difficult to calculate, but said: “In any case, Norway can afford to do more for Ukraine than we can. Much more”.
The signatories wrote that Ukrainian cities and infrastructure are turning into ruins. “We have an obligation to help Ukraine resist overwhelming military power and limit the humanitarian catastrophe.”
Norway “contributes, but our contribution is not proportionate to our unique capabilities,” they said. “The time has come for Norway to use some of its accumulated wealth for the benefit of a country in desperate need of our support.”
Norway manages its vast wealth “with future generations in mind,” the letter says, but the same “should be true of the international rule of law.” They also need to be managed and stored for our descendants. Ukraine’s struggle is our struggle.”
Oslo may “decide to contribute to Ukraine’s struggle at a level that is in line with our capabilities,” the report said. “Or we can turn our backs and fool ourselves into believing that some help, little by little, is all we can do. If we make this choice, we will not only let Ukraine down. We are also losing ourselves.”
Sven Holzmark of the Norwegian Defense Academy, who initiated the letter, said Norway is “definitely one of the best donors” for Ukraine by international standards, but the fact that it is doing “comparatively well” is irrelevant.
“This country has received a huge additional income, a huge windfall due to the Russian invasion,” said the history professor. “We are in an absolutely unique position and we have to give so much more.”
Støre denied that Oslo was turning the war into his own financial gain, even unwittingly. “Norway for 50 years has been a risk-taking scout and seller of energy, oil and gas,” he said. “Norway doesn’t set prices.”
He said the higher gas price has also led to a sharp increase in electricity bills for Norwegian families and businesses, which has become a “political issue for us” in a country that is heavily dependent on electricity for industry, heating and transport.