Norwegian drama series triggers diplomatic episode

EPA/OLIVIER HOSLET

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks at a media briefing during a meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Defense Ministers council at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, 24 June 2015

When fiction provokes reality, it is usually thrilling


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On October 4th,  a Norwegian commercial TV channel is airing Okkupert (Occupied), that is, a ten episode mini series fictional drama featuring a Russian invasion of Norway.

The story is about Russia invading Norway to assume control of its abundant oil and gas resources. Authored by the world renowned crime writer, Jo Nesbo, it is clear that the story is purely fictional. The scenario imagines the US have pulling out of NATO and Brussels approving of Russia’s invasion.

Still, producers admit to having been inspired by the War in Ukraine and the series did trigger a diplomatic reaction. Russia’s Ambassador in Oslo, Vyacheslav Pavlovsky, told AFP that it was “regrettable” that the producers chose to release this series on the 70th anniversary since the end of the Second World War, forgetting the role of the Soviet army in the liberation on northern Norway.

Apparently, the story line resonates with a heightened sense of caution in Norway. According to the New York Times, the Norwegian Army has been busier in intercepting Russian warplanes off the Norwegian coast, citing in 2014 a year-on-year 27% increase of Russian violations of its airspace; a similar trend is observed in the wider Baltic region. This is coupled with a more visible presence of Russia’s Northern Fleet in Murmonsk, as the scramble for Arctic Circle resources, encouraged by climate change, has raised concerns.

Norway’s former Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, has now become NATO’s Secretary General and has repeatedly talked about Russia’s willingness to use force, as in Georgia in 2008 and in Crimea in 2014.

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