The government’s handling of Ukraine’s requests for assistance was flawed in the first phase of the war due to long processing times. A unanimous control committee at the Storting believes so.
Høyre’s Peter Frølich also believes that Justice Minister Emilie Enger Mehl (Sp) has breached the duty to provide information and that the investigations reveal insufficient coordination in the government.
He says that the total aid has now reached a good level, but criticizes the government’s handling in an early phase.
– Our job has been to review the handling of the first phase of the war. A number of major weaknesses have been uncovered there, says Frølich in a press release.
He is leader of the Storting control and constitution committeecontrol and constitution committeeA separate committee at the Storting whose task is to ensure that the Storting’s decisions are followed up by the government. The leader usually comes from the largest of the parties not in government..
VG revealed last autumn that the government stopped recruiting Ukrainian soldiers for two and a half months. The reason was that there was a disagreement about whether the wounded soldiers should pay a deductible in the primary healthcare service.
– The Conservative Party believes it was unsustainable that in the summer of 2022 it took 73 days for the Ukrainian authorities to receive feedback on whether wounded soldiers could receive free healthcare. During this period, Norway did not respond to a high number of requests from Ukraine for the evacuation of soldiers, says Frølich.
Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre (Ap) and Health Minister Ingvild Kjerkol (Ap) self-criticized the long processing time and changed the routines afterwards.
– That’s good, says Frølich.
Breach of the obligation to provide information
The government also stopped recruiting soldiers last spring because they wanted to investigate whether Norway could recruit soldiers in war.
Justice Minister Mehl did not inform the Storting that the government had first agreed to bring in soldiers when she was first asked about her status. The Conservatives and Liberals believe that this is a breach of that the duty to provide informationthe duty to provide informationThe government is obliged to provide complete and correct information to the Storting.
– The Conservative Party believes that it is highly objectionable that the Minister of Justice gave a misleading answer to the Storting about the government’s treatment of the requests for medical evacuation of wounded soldiers. When asked by the Storting whether Norway would offer medical evacuation of wounded soldiers, the minister withheld information that Norway had already offered this, but that the Ministry of Justice then gave a stop order, and instead started new investigations, says Frølich.
A majority of the committee believes that the minister should have informed the Storting about this earlier.
– Way too slow
According to Frølich, the government has changed certain routines following the control committee’s investigations. He praises them for that.
But at the same time, he believes that a lack of coordination between ministries, a lack of prioritization and political implementation power has meant that it has taken too long to respond to a number of aid requests.
– Norway received a request for bridge material in May 2022, but it took 3 months before the government carried out investigations as to whether we had the bridge material available, and it took 223 days before the bridges were sent, says Frølich and adds:
– These are some of the examples that the handling in the first months of the war has been far too slow in an acute situation.