The Norwegian Defense Ministry has confirmed that the US are to station troops in Norway from January next year.
More than 300 American marines will to be stationed at the Vaernes military base for a trial period ….the first time foreign troops have been posted on Norwegian territory since the end of World War Two.
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“The United States is our most important ally and we have a near bilateral relationship that we wish to develop,” Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide said in a statement. “The defense of Norway is dependent on allied reinforcement and it is crucial for Norwegian security that our allies get the knowledge required to operate in Norway, together with Norwegian forces.”
Norway, which shares a border with Russia in the Arctic, is a founding member of the US-led NATO alliance.
Soereide previously expressed concerns about Russian military activity since Crimea opted in a referendum to rejoin the Russian Federation in March 2014.
In a 2014 interview with Reuters, she claimed the March incident, which also angered the US, showed that Moscow was able and would use military means to achieve its political goals.
The Monday announcement has provoked criticism from parts of the opposition in Norway.
“This is not a good signal to send. We face a cold political climate that requires predictability from Norway,” Audun Lysbakken, the leader of the opposition Socialist Left party, told public broadcaster NRK. “We should rather reinforce our national defense and not aim for some form of permanent presence by US troops.”
On October 10, the Norwegian Defense Ministry said that it was holding preliminary discussions about the possibility of such a deployment.
Russia expressed surprise about the mooted deployment, saying, considering “multiple statements made by Norwegian officials about the absence of threat from Russia to Norway, we would like to understand why Norway is so much willing to increase its military potential, in particular through the stationing of American forces in Vaernes.”
NATO troops have, on numerous occasions, been deployed to the country to take part in military drills, but were not stationed there.
The last time foreign troops were deployed there was when Russian Red Army soldiers were stationed in northern Norway after they drove out German forces, which had occupied Norway from 1940 to 1945.
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