Norway is ready to take in its share of Ukrainian refugees, according to prime minister Jonas Gahr Støre.
The images from Ukraine these past days have shocked people all around the world, and continue to do so as the hours pass by. That's also true in Norway, where reporting on the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been subject to round-the-clock reporting.
Thoughts now turn to the people impacted by the ongoing conflict. Unicef estimates that around 3.4 million people now need help.
Now, the Norwegian prime minister Jonas Gahr Støre has spoken on the topic, condemning the actions of Russia while discussing sanctions.
“We will stand up for Ukraine and for the people of Ukraine,” he said, adding that Norway will send NOK 200 million in emergency aid to support the civilian population of Ukraine.
Støre: Nordic cooperation required
At a press conference before a NATO meeting, Støre said that a refugee influx has already begun to affect Poland. Ukraine borders Poland—an EU member—along with fellow EU members Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.
While Norway is not an EU member, it is an EEA member and as such wants to join a joint approach. Støre said this should be done in a fair way to share the burden.
“We are prepared to enter into a Nordic co-operation on a distribution over time so that there is not an unreasonable burden on a few (countries). Then Norway must take its share, based on a reasonable distribution between European countries.”
The Norwegian prime minister has spoken with many European leaders since the armed conflict began.
They include Olaf Scholz of Germany, the UK's Boris Johnson, the prime ministers of the Nordic countries, as well as the Netherlands and the Baltic countries.
Sanctions could impact Norway
Støre said that Norway must expect to be hit by Russia's response to the sanctions that are now being introduced.
“We must expect a Russian response to the sanctions. They will also affect Norwegian interests. We must be prepared for that,” said Støre.
“It is the Ukrainian people who have now been hit the hardest, in an outrageous and deeply tragic way. We will stand up for Ukraine and the people of Ukraine,” continued the prime minister.
Støre also talked about Norway's responsibility to Europe when it comes to energy supply. Several European countries rely heavily on imported gas from Russia. Støre said this gives Norway an important role.
“Norway will remain a stable supplier of gas. It is important in the current situation. It is strategically important for our allies and partners in Europe. We supply 20% of European gas, and in the current uncertain situation, that is very important,” he said.