Russia objects to US troops in Norway

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Russia’s foreign ministry made it clear Thursday night that it’s not at all in favour of Norway allowing US troops to be stationed at Værnes outside Trondheim. “Norway is choosing American soldiers over economic cooperation with Russia,” a spokeswoman for the Russian foreign minister told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).

American and Norwegian troops will be training together much more often after the US sends 330 Marines to Værnes near Trondheim. Now Russia is raising strong objections to the plan. PHOTO: Forsvarsdepartementet

American and Norwegian troops will be training together much more often after the US sends 330 Marines to Værnes near Trondheim next year. Now Russia is raising strong objections to the plan. PHOTO: Forsvarsdepartementet

“We don’t understand why something like this is being done, in a time of peace,” Maria Zakharova, director of information at the Russian foreign ministry, told NRK. She was making an official response to the Norwegian government’s confirmation this week that 330 US Marines will be stationed at Værnes on a rotation system beginning in January.

“The fact that the Norwegian authorities say these troops will be rotated doesn’t especially ease our concerns,” Zakharova told NRK. “It only means that the soldiers will be shifted out, while the base will lie there permanently.”

Norwegian Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide has insisted that it won’t be a “base” but the Russians aren’t buying her assurances. Zakharova said the Russians are also concerned that such a base will be located in the center of Norway, far from the actual border to Russia. “It’s just an attempt to camouflage that both training and exercises will now take place all over Norway,” she said.

‘Incomprehensible’
Zakharova said Russia viewed the plans as Norway’s attempt to meet demands and wishes from the US. “But for us, it’s incomprehensible that this has to happen on European soil now,” she said. “Nor can we understand that this can serve Norway’s interests.”

She said she couldn’t say what consequences the presence of 330 American soldiers in Norway will have in Russia. “The Russian foreign ministry doesn’t have responsibility for what kind of military response might be put in place,” she said. “That’s something the military is responsible for, but they will surely evaluate what measures they feel are necessary.”

After years of cooperation following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, tensions between Russia and western nations began to rise with the re-emergence of Vladimir Putin as president of Russia. He has been keen to rebuild Russia as a major force in the world, but his decision to annex Crimea and intervene in Ukraine sparked international protests and prompted the EU and US to respond with economic sanctions to which Norway has adhered.

‘Making the crisis worse’
At the same time, Norway and Russia have generally had a cooperative bilateral relationship, even during the Cold War years, based on a long history of cooperation in the far north, where the two countries share a border. While many contend Russia initially provoked Norway and its allies with the annexation of Crimea, Russia now seems sensitive to any counter-response to the annexation.

Zakharova’s message to NRK was that Norway should “think through” its intentions in allowing US soldiers to be stationed in Norwegian territory. Norwegian and Russian cooperation, she suggested, was now being put to the test.

Asked whether placing US soldiers at Værnes would worsen relations between Norway and Russia, Zakharova responded that “it won’t, at any rate, make relations better. It’s necessary for Russian-European relations to find their way out of the dead-end they’ve reached. The measure the Norwegian authorities has now approved will only make the crisis worse, and deeper.”

“What’s best for Norway in the long term?” she asked rhetorically. “To deal with Russia or serve American soldiers? That’s the question we put to the Norwegian authorities.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund

  • John Palmer

    A bit of a sticky wicket. American soldiers in Norway won’t really improve security, will it? But caving in to the bully who is Putin might not be wise.

    • inquisitor

      Perhaps Norway should put the blame regarding Ukraine where it truly belongs, on the neo-con agenda under the Obama administration with their agent Victoria Nuland (Nudelman), husband Robert Kagan, covertly interfering with Ukrainian politics to install their own WTO puppet leader Yatsenyu while claiming the US never meddles in the democratic political affairs of other countries. These neo-cons want war with Russia, ala Zbigniew Brzezinski, and will do everything to blame Russia for everything under the sun and prod it into war. This is why Clinton blames the DNC email hacks on Russia and falsely claims 17 US intelligence-law enforcement agencies back up that claim, which none of them actually do.

      • richard albert

        The politician’s self-serving blather as to whodunit is really kind of a canard. I wonder if the ’17 .. agencies’ includes the National Geospatial-Intelligence – formerly Mapping – Agency. Hey; if we move Ukraine NNE 200 Kliks on all the maps…

        We are better off if we listen to security experts with proven track records and some real creds. Sorry; it points to the Putin regime, whether state sponsored, permitted, financed, winked at, or the dog ate my homework.

        Two very credible sources of comment/information are, to wit, Bruce Schneier

        https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2016/07/russian_hack_of.html

        and Krebs on Security.

        https://krebsonsecurity.com/2016/07/trump-dnc-rnc-flunk-email-security-test/

        The larger question, as Krebs illuminates, becomes why two persons aspiring to become POTUS are so incredibly naive about IT security. Using Aardvark Systems to setup your server(s). (When the shit hit the fan, The ‘Vark went online to find out how to delete… never mind.)

        I really don’t believe that those so inept as to get hornswoggled by phishing emails, whether from The Empire Striking Back, or Lauri Love, or script kiddies are going to seriously mount a conspiracy to bait the superb geopolitical adepts of the former USSR into a shooting war.

        “One must be cunning and wicked in this world.”
        Count Leo Tolstoy; ‘War and Peace’. Notice he didn’t mention “stupid”.