Around 330 U.S. Marines have been training in Vaernes, Norwary on a rotational basis since January, prompting Russian ire despite U.S. and Norwegian claims that the cold-weather training is focused on expanding U.S.-Norwegian cooperation, rather than as a part of the continued expansion of NATO defenses along Russia’s western flank. Now, Norwegian Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide has announced that America’s Marine Corps presence in Norway will continue through 2018, and the Kremlin is once again voicing its complaints.
Marines will continue to deploy to Norway on six month rotations, where they will not only learn important facets of cold-weather combat, but they will continue to focus on “strengthening the development of joint leaders and teams who understand the synergy of air, sea, and land power as a potent asymmetric advantage in the battlefield.”
“Our Marines in Norway are demonstrating a high level of cooperation with our allies,” said Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Niel E. Nelson, commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa. “The more we train together alongside one another the stronger our Alliance becomes.”
The Kremlin, however, sees these deployments as a violation of Norway’s domestic policy that bans foreign military installations on their land, other than during times of war. The Russian government issued a statement on Saturday indicating that this decision would only weaken Norway’s relationship with Russia.