NATO has launched extensive military exercises in Norway’s northern region of Finnmark, some 300 kilometers from the Russian border.
The Western military alliance's Joint Viking 2017 drills kicked off on Monday, with the presence of around 8,000 troops from the UK, US, and Norway. The military exercises are scheduled to last until March 15.
According to a statement released by the Norwegian Armed Forces, the main goals are practicing for the country’s defense and crisis management.
Before joining their Norwegian counterparts, the British and American troops engaged in preparatory climatization exercises to ready them for Norway’s harsh weather conditions.
“The Armed Forces will have a lot of activity in the air, with fighter jets, helicopters and transport aircraft. To ensure safety in the air, we therefore introduced a drone ban,” said a Norwegian military spokesman.
In January, the US deployed nearly 300 Marines to Norway, prompting serious warnings from Moscow.
NATO has been deploying weapons and equipment in the Baltic States – Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia — to curb what it refers to as “Russia’s aggression.”
- US deploys troops to Norway despite warnings from Russia
- Lithuania hails arrival of German NATO battalion
- Germany sending troops to Baltics as part of NATO's anti-Russia force
The US-led alliance’s expansion sped up after the two sides cut ties in 2014, when the Ukrainian-controlled Black Sea peninsula of Crimea joined Russia in a referendum.
Moscow is seriously wary of the US-led alliance’s military buildup near its borders. In response to the aggressive measures, Russia has beefed up its southwestern military capacity, deploying nuclear-capable Iskander-M missiles to its Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad bordering Poland and Lithuania.
A screen grab from footage released by the Norwegian Armed Forces showing NATO’s Joint Viking 2017 drills on March 6, 2017.