Colonel Lieutenant Tormod Heier at the Armed Forces College has ventured there was a high probability that Norway's sheer proximity to Russia's nuclear arms in the north could result in a hybrid war.
According to Heier, Russia's measures could include: cutting police data traffic in Norway's northernmost Finnmark County, disseminating propaganda about the US radar array in Vardø to scare the locals, contaminating drinking water in Bergen, staging threats against Norwegian Prime Minister, Defense Minister and high-ranking military officials, and even killing key people in several ministries.
"The Russians believe politics between states is a continuous state of warlike situations," Tormod Heier told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.
Senior researcher Njord Wegge at the Norwegian Department of Foreign Affairs concurred that Norway could be affected by a Russian hybrid war to prevent the Nordic country from receiving help from NATO, should a conflict elsewhere in the world be spread to northern regions. According to Wegge, both Norway and NATO were ill-prepared to counter this threat, that "eradicates the line between war and not war."
These insinuations spurred a strong reaction from Russia's Embassy in Norway.
"Non-existent hybrid threats and similar gibberish are sought to force the Norwegian people to believe in Russia's "aggressive" intentions, the embassy wrote in a Facebook post. "Using alleged 'hybrid threats' they are trying to eradicate Russia from the mass consciousness as an inseparable part of European civilization, which has repeatedly saved Europe, Norway included, from imminent destruction, as well as create a wall of alienation and distrust," the post continued, suggesting that the notion of hybrid war itself was a Western innovation, frequently utilized by NATO in former Yugoslavia, Libya and Iraq.
The Norwegian Defense Ministry refused to comment on the divisive article, yet informed NRK that Norway had a "neat" relationship with the Russian authorities and a good dialog in many areas. Former foreign minister Børge Brende previously argued that everything was good in the north.
Ellen Katrine Hætta, police chief of Finnmark police district, expressed doubt that the threat scenarios listed by the defense experts were real.
"We have a very good and clear relationship with the neighbor in the east. We have the same forms of cooperation that we have always had, about border assignments and other things. For me, it's hard to see any change locally. I think Russian authorities are very keen to have an open and good relationship with us," Ellen Katrine Hætta told NRK.
Gunnar Angeltveit, senior adviser in crisis management at Kruse Larsen, argued in a tweet that Russia was being "demonized."
Another user argued that the US, China and Brazil could potentially do the same that Russia was accused of and enquired rhetorically what Norway has undertaken to parry that threat.