Was Jens Stoltenberg, the current head of NATO, one step away from becoming a KGB
agent? In the 1990s, he was an intensively prepared contact for recruitment by the KGB,
nicknamed ‘Stieklov’. Norway has always been of interest to the special services of the
Soviet Union and now also to Russia.
Today’s NATO chief is the son of Thorvald Stoltenberg, the former Norwegian foreign minister
and defence minister. It was already clear to the KGB in the 1990s that the then chairman of the
Oslo branch of the Norwegian Workers’ Party was an important target. As the 25-year-old
chairman of the AUF, the youth branch of the Workers’ Party, he became known as … an enemy
of NATO. He told the daily Aftenposten on 23.02.1985: ‘Our aim is to detach Norway from
NATO. The AUF’s aim is to dismantle the military blocs and write Norway out of the North
Stoltenberg worked during this period to establish non-atomic zones in Northern Europe and to
freeze nuclear arsenals. In 1988, Lev Koslyakov, press attaché at the embassy in Oslo, was
appointed KGB chief for Norway and tasked with rebuilding the spy network after the disaster
caused by the 1984 arrest of Arne Treholt, convicted of spying for the Soviet Union (see below).
The officer to recruit Stoltenberg was Boris Kirillov, who was meeting the current NATO chief.
At the KBG headquarters in Moscow, Stoltenberg was assigned the pseudonym ‘Stieklov’ and a
so-called DOR file (‘dielo opierativnoy razrabotki’) was established. The status given to
Stoltenberg indicated that he was in the final, advanced stage prior to the direct recruitment
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This information was revealed by Major Mikhail Butkov, who fled to the UK on 22 May 1991.
He turned out to be a double agent who had been working for Norwegian counterintelligence
under the pseudonym ‘Lennart’ and British MI6 as ‘Plainsman’ since 1989, stealing large amounts
of information on KGB operations and political strategies. Butkov also reported on recruitment
attempts for the KGB targeting Norwegian politicians and other influential people. The
Norwegian counter-intelligence service (POT) was thus able to warn these individuals in time so
that they could break off established contacts. One of these was Jens Stoltenberg.
What happened between Jens Stoltenberg and Mikhail Butkov at the time can probably only be
said by the two of them. But in the official history of the PTO entitled ‘The Secret War, vol. 2’
(‘Den hemmelige krigen’, bind 2) it is claimed that ‘Stoltenberg’ according to Butkov ‘was on his
way to being inducted into the KGB network, either as a confidant contact or as an agent’. The
KGB’s interest in Stoltenberg was also dictated by the fact that he had become a member of the
Kåre Willoch-led Defence Committee in 1990.
In a documentary programme broadcast by NRK television, Butkov formulated Stoltenberg’s
position in Moscow as follows: ” – the KGB was of the opinion that we were on the verge of a
breakthrough on this issue”. During one of his visits to Moscow, Butkov managed to steal
information about the identity of ‘Stoltenberg’ and in January 1990 he informed the PTO of this.
Stoltenberg was warned by the PTO on 4 May 1990 against contacts with Kirillov.
Unclear links between Norway and the Soviets
The phenomenon of fascination with Russia can be traced back to the formation of the
Norwegian Workers’ Party, which became a member of the Comintern after the outbreak of the
1917 revolution in Russia. When Lev Trotsky sought political asylum in Norway in June 1935,
he had influential defenders among the Communist politicians of the time. Trotsky was only
expelled from Norway in December 1936.
The KGB’s most spectacular success in Norway, however, was the ‘tracking down’ of Werna
Gerhardsen, the wife of Einar Gerhardsen, multiple prime minister of post-war Norway. He was
a frequent guest of the communists in Moscow. Einar Gerhardsen’s file runs to as many as 721
pages in the archives of RGANI, which contains the files of the CPSU. Throughout his
premiership, he had to contend with intense rumours that the KGB even had the ‘keys’ to
Gerhardsen’s flat in the Tøyen district of Oslo. Gerhardsen visited Moscow in 1920 for the
second congress of the Comintern.
Werna Gerhardsen travelled to the Soviet Union in the autumn of 1954 with a delegation of
Workers’ Party youth organisations. But what took place in a hotel room in Yerevan on 14
November 1954? According to an account in the Norwegian daily Dagbladet, the KGB had
“compromising photographs” taken that evening. Here is what we find in the Central Committee
memo of 1 November 1955: ‘Werna Gerhardsen talked a lot about going to the USSR in 1954
and changed her husband’s views on the USSR. There was not an evening that she did not speak
positively about the USSR, she has a great influence on her husband”.
As the Gerhardsen couple were making another trip to Moscow, Viktor Grushko from the Soviet
embassy unexpectedly appeared on the tarmac with a huge bouquet of roses. Verna thanked him
with the words ” – That’s very nice, Viktor!”. Not hiding her satisfaction, she patted him on the
cheek. Before coming to Norway, Viktor Fyodorovich Grushko was a KGB resident in New
Dehli from 1951 to 1954, but his biography claims that he only started working for the KGB in
The Treholt case
When Norwegian counterintelligence arrested Arne Treholt, an undersecretary in the Norwegian
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at Fornebu Airport in Oslo on 20 January 1984, the biggest
espionage scandal became a reality. Treholt had been followed by Norwegian
counterintelligence for a long time, but his contacts with the KGB were traced to the Norwegians
by the CIA, which organised a series of spectacular wiretaps and video recordings in Treholt’s
flat on Oscars gate in Oslo. Treholt was accused of secret meetings abroad with KGB officers
expelled from Norway for espionage, including Gennady Titov. Treholt accepted large sums of
money – at least US$54,000 – in exchange for information provided to the USSR and Iraq.
Jens Stoltenberg has also been accused of being submissive to Russia to date. Documents from
the US embassy in Oslo published by Wikileaks show that he “openly opposed plans to install a
missile shield” during a visit to Russia in June 2007. A high-ranking embassy diplomat told
Dagbladet that the Americans were shocked to see Stoltenberg standing next to Putin like Putin’s
parrot, officially repeating arguments against the missile shield.