Moscow increasingly views the ‘Collective West’ as an offensive actor and the High North as terrain for NATO ‘expansion’. Norway figures as an active partner in this endeavour. For Norway, this situation is precarious: to the degree that Norway is seen as an inimical ‘NATO in the North’, Norwegian policies across a range of issue-areas increasingly risk being perceived as actions in an existential Russia–West struggle. This is worrisome because a key pillar of official Norwegian policy towards Russia involves balancing NATO deterrence with reassurance. As the military/non-military distinction becomes blurred in the eyes of Russia this crucial balancing becomes very difficult – the intended ‘reassuring’ signal might not come across.
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