Norwegian naval forces have been quietly training Ukrainian sailors in Norway, part of a new coalition with the UK aimed at rebuilding Ukrainie’s coastal defense and sea lanes in the Black Sea. Other countries are poised to join in.
“We have a long-term perspective for many years ahead,” Norwegian Defense Minister Bjørn Arild Gram told state broadcaster NRK on Monday. “There are acute needs here and now, but we must be able to think ahead about how they can defend themselves and develop naval defense in line with western standards.”
The new defense cooperation was unveiled in London, with Norway taking over leadership of an international coaliton for the first time. The new “Maritime Capability Coalition” aims to keep the Black Sea open for transport and trade, and to protect southern coastal areas of Ukraine.
“It’s incredibly import for Ukraine’s defense that the Russian Black Sea fleet is kept as far away from the coast of Ukraine as possible,” Gram said, “and it’s important for (Ukraine’s) economy and the world’s poor that grain exports continue.”
Only the US and Germany have given more military aid to Ukraine than Great Britain and Norway, but now there’s more uncertainty about ongoing US military aid as more Republicans in the US want to cut it. Ukrainian naval personnel have already spent five weeks in Norway, learning, for example, how to use small vessels for tactical maneuvers and infiltration, surveillance operations, fleet movement and offensive operations.