Russia has vowed to retaliate if Norway invites the United States to more than double the number of Marines stationed in the country.
By – Samuel Osborne
In a statement on its Facebook page, the Russian Embassy said it made the Scandinavian country “less predictable”, while warning it “could cause growing tensions, triggering an arms race and destabilising the situation in northern Europe,”
It added: “We see it as clearly unfriendly, and it will not remain free of consequence.”
The response came after Oslo announced earlier this week that it would ask the US, its Nato ally, to send 700 marines to train in Norway from 2019. There are around 330 US Marines in Norway at present.
Norway said the additional troops would be based closer to the Russian border.
However, it said it does not consider its much larger neighbour a direct threat.
The US Marines were scheduled to leave at the end of the year, after an initial contingent arrived in January 2017 to train for winter conditions.
They were the first foreign troops to be stationed in Norway since the Second World War.
The country’s foreign minister, Ine Eriksen Soereide, said the decision did not constitute the establishment of a permanent US base in Norway.
“There are no American bases on Norwegian soil,” she said.
In addition, the US wants to build infrastructure which could accommodate up to four US fighter jets at a base 40 miles south of Oslo, as part of a European deterrence initiative launched after Russia annexation of Crimea.
Norway said the expanded invitation was about Nato training and improving winter fighting capability.
“Allies get better at training together,” the country’s defence minister, Frank Bakke-Jensen, said.
The initial decision to welcome the Marines prompted Moscow to say it would worsen bilateral relations and escalate tensions on Nato’s northern flank.
Russia’s Northern Fleet launched a large naval exercise in the Arctic Barents Sea. Later this year, Norway will host its biggest Nato manoeuvre in decades.
Read more: From 2018/04/14