Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s answers to media questions following talks with Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Norway Anniken Huitfeldt, Tromso, October 25, 2021
Question: Mr Lavrov, welcome to Norway. You now had your first meeting with Foreign Secretary Anniken Huitfeldt. What do you think was the most important thing that you discussed? What kind of changes do you hope to see from the new Norwegian Government?
Sergey Lavrov: We discussed the overall state of our relations, which are different. On the one hand, we share a common history, and I was really touched and gratified to attend with the Minister the ceremony of laying flowers to the monument to the Russian victims of the World War II, just as I attend regularly the ceremonies in Kirkenes to commemorate the victory when the Russian Red Army liberated Finnmark in Northern Norway, and the attention and the respect paid by all Norwegian leaders, including His Majesty, the Prime Minister, ministers and members of the Government, is really tremendous.
We have this mutual respect, which is being substantiated by the cross-border links between our people, who live just next door to each other, who communicate with each other thanks to the visa-free arrangement which we agreed some years ago, and who benefit from this economically, socially, culturally. And all this will be manifested tomorrow, I am sure, during the events of the Barents and Euro-Arctic Council.
On the other hand, Norway is a member of NATO. NATO is no friend of Russia. They decided that they don’t want to be friendly, they decided that they don’t want to have the Founding Act between NATO and Russia to be the basis of our relations. They called Russia, and now China, and, actually, Russia and China together, a threat to NATO. NATO is looking for the meaning of its future existence. My good friend Jens Stoltenberg, who used to be an excellent Prime Minister of Norway, is now saying that NATO must be responsible for security all over the world, including in the Indo-Pacific and Latin America.
And of course, we have differences with our Norwegian neighbours. We discuss these differences frankly and openly. Today we raised the issue of continued consultations between our ministries of defence and between our foreign ministries. I invited the Minister to visit Russia whenever she believes it’s suitable. But we also have the channels of communication between the ministries of emergencies on search and rescue operations in the Arctic region, which is life.
Quite a number of differences which we have are in the area of ideology. Who is the Number One, who is to rule the world ̶ this is what we hear from our NATO “friends.” We believe that we have to concentrate on real life. As far as the imagination of NATO going in the direction of containing Russia, preparing to attack Russia, German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said that they have to be ready to threaten Russia with nuclear weapons. These are fantasies. If it gives her some pleasure, maybe this can satisfy some of her fans.
But I hope and I know that Norwegians are very pragmatic people. We want to be pragmatic, and we want to concentrate on the positive.
And whatever Norway has to do as a member of the North Atlantic Alliance, I am sure Norway will be doing this fully keeping in mind the importance of relations with Russia.
Question: Russia and Norway are both key exporters of natural gas to the European market. Are Moscow and Oslo considering more cooperation to stabilise the situation on the gas market and to curb the volatility that we witnessed this year?
Considering the catastrophic situation in Russia-NATO relations, are Russia and Norway considering more contacts between their defence ministries in the near future?
Sergey Lavrov: If you ask me, I don’t believe that we should discuss the gas situation. We don’t explore gas deposits and we don’t sell gas as foreign ministries.
As for Russia-NATO relations, I wouldn’t say they are catastrophic. To be catastrophic, you need to have some relations. We don’t have any relations with NATO, but we do have relations with Norway, on the security front as well, as I mentioned. And we would like to raise them to a higher level between the ministries of defence, in addition to the security consultations, which are regular.
Question: Could you elaborate on the possibility of increasing the bilateral defence consultations?
Sergey Lavrov: I just did. I said that we do have such consultations and we would like to raise them to a higher level between the ministries of defence.