For the first time since the end of World War II, Norway will allow United States troops to be stationed on its soil for a limited period starting next year, according to the Defense Ministry on Monday.
More than 300 US Marines are set to be deployed to Norway along the Russian border following mounting tensions between Washington and Moscow over conflicts in Ukraine and Syria where the two nations are seen making military upgrades.
The US Marines will be stationed starting January next year at the Vaernes military base in central Norway where the Russian border is located 600 miles away to undergo training and manoeuvres in near Arctic conditions, according to Reuters.
The commander of U.S. Marines in Europe, Major General Niel Nelson, said that the US military presence will “increase NATO’s ability to rapidly aggregate and employ forces in northern Europe.”
Norway has a good relationship with Russia as the two nations share a 122-mile border in the Arctic. However, the recent Russian military presence has raised concerns as Moscow held military exercises along Norwegian airspace and near Denmark, Finland and Sweden, as well as the former Soviet Union states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia which stroked fears of a military build-up.
Ine Eriksen Soreide, the Norwegian Defense Minister, said on Monday that the US and NATO military is welcome to conduct “exercises, training and interoperability within the Alliance” as Norway’s defence is “dependent on allied reinforcements,” and it is Norway’s best interest that their allies “come here to gain knowledge of how to operate in Norway and with Norwegian forces.”
NATO has previously deployed four multinational battalions to the Baltic States and Poland to reign in Russian aggression, while the US has stationed its tanks in Europe.
Norway is one of the founding members of the US-led NATO and has been its member since 1949, but it made a deal with Russia where it will not allow foreign troops on its land. But Moscow’s ongoing military conflicts in Syria and Ukraine have drawn rebuke from the US and Europe, including threats of further sanctions.
Jacob Borresen, a former senior Norwegian army officer, has warned through public broadcaster NRK that the latest deployment “sends negative signals eastwards” which could create a Cold War-style “confrontation zone.”
Photo Courtesy: Pranavian/ Flickr