The largest military exercise in Norway in ten years’ time is now taking place in Mid-Troms and involves 16 000 soldiers from 15 countries. The exercise includes the largest ever live firing drill held on Norwegian territory.
Norwegian F-16 fighter jet during Cold Response 2012 (Photo: Håvard H Kvalnes, Forsvaret)
“The current military exercise takes place amid NATO’s increased activities in the Arctic. This, in turn, is defined by the coming division of the natural resources in the region. Apparently, through flexing muscles NATO wants to show that it is set on strengthening its geopolitical and diplomatic efforts with military might”, says Chief editor of the newspaper “National Safety” Igor Korotchenko to Voice of Russia.
The exercise could as well have been held on Canadian territory, says Vladimir Yevseyev of the Center for International Security of the Institute of Global Economy and International Relations: “Nevertheless, the exercises are being held on the territories of Norway and Sweden, in close proximity to the border of Russia. They might thus been seen as a provocation”. Russia has all grounds for concern, Yevseyev says, as “vessels equipped with the Spanish-made Aegis system can be deployed to the Arctic”.
The Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System (Aegis BMD) is a ship-based system provided with long-range radar that enables warships to shoot down enemy ballistic missiles. The system is part of the United States national missile defense strategy.
Head of the Russian General Staff Nikolai Makarov has warned the USA that Russia will take the necessary countermeasures if U.S. vessels with the Aegis system are dislocated to northern waters or to the Black Sea.
Read also: Russian general sends Arctic warning to USA
Russia is keeping a close eye on the military activities in the Arctic, Igor Korotchenko says to Voice of Russia: “Russia is now creating two Arctic mobile brigades which can operate in any part of the Arctic, where it is necessary to protect the country’s interests”.
The two motorized rifle brigade specially trained for operations in the Arctic are planned to be crated in Murmansk and Arkhangelsk regions. In Murmansk it is the 200. motorized infantry brigade in Pechenga, some 10 kilometers from the Russian-Norwegian border, that is up for reorganization as an Arctic brigade, as BarentsObserver reported.