Russia condemns Norway's push for a stronger US military presence on its territory

  • Mihai Turcanu
  • 17.6.2018 14:07

On 15 June, Russia's Foreign Ministry has condemned Norway's plans to ask the US to double the number of marines it sends for training on its territory after this decision was announced by the Norwegian foreign and defence ministers on 12 June.

Norway is hosting a number of 330 US marines for long-term winter conditions training starting with January 2017. These troops represent the first foreign military presence since the end of WW2 on the Norwegian territory, and there exists a 1949 commitment to Moscow from Oslo that, unless threatened, Norway will never station foreign soldiers on its soil. The position of the current Norwegian government is that these troops are not stationed permanently, and indeed they are being deployed on a rotational basis. Norway's move is best understood in the international context of the Northern and Eastern Europe which became increasingly heated since the Russian annexation of Crimea, and the war Moscow subsequently waged against Ukraine. Out of fear of Russia's revisionism, Norway's Scandinavian non-aligned neighbours, Finland and Sweden have since then sought to strengthen military and political ties with NATO and the US, and Stockholm has gone so far as to issue war-time instructions on a national scale to its population, and acquire modern defensive weapons from the US, while reactivating some of its old military assets. Further down South, the Baltics are doubling down on their partnership with the US, while Poland is seeking to obtain concrete American security guarantees by working vigorously towards a massive, permanent, US military presence on its territory. Norway's decision should be regarded in the same context, as not only the number of deployed US marines will grow to 700 starting with 2019, but also they will be stationed closer to the Russian border, as opposed to them being previously located in central Norway.

About author: Mihai Turcanu

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