While the crisis between NATO and Russia over Ukraine continues, Norway will soon begin the largest NATO exercises of the year in northern Norway, with 35,000 soldiers registered.
The exercises will take place as planned, Defense Minister Odd Roger Inoxen (Sp) told VG.
28 countries totaling 35,000 troops have signed up for the Cold Response Program.
The main exercises take place in March and April, according to the armed forces, but some allied countries already sent troops to Norway last fall to start winter exercises.
Of these, 14,000 are from the Land Forces, 13,000 from the Navy are on board ships, while 8,000 are from the Air Force and have headquarters established at various bases.
In recent days, it has become known that both the United States and the United Kingdom are sending enormous groups of aircraft carriers with combat aircraft to participate in the exercise. But according to Enoxen, this has been in the plans at least since he became defense secretary, in October last year.
– It’s been planned for a long time, says Enoksen. It is reported that the “Cold Response 2022” military exercises will be held at a great distance from the Russian borders, especially in the sea, air and land between Bodo and Tromsø.
Between Bodo and Tromsø
– There are no plans to go further north than we usually do during such exercises, adds the Minister of Defense.
Does Russia have reason to feel provoked by this exercise?
– meaningless. This was also announced to Russia. We are now in dialogue with Russia so that they are well informed. On the Norwegian side, it is important to carry this out normally, and to show that we are doing it as we planned, he says.
The Russian military command received invitations from both NATO and Norway to come to northern Norway and observe the exercises.
Russia met on Skype
On Thursday, Russia’s top military commander in the north received detailed information about the exercises. At that time, Lieutenant-General Yengvi Udlo, commander of the operational headquarters of the Armed Forces, had a Skype meeting with Admiral Alexander Moiseev, as the commander of the Russian Northern Fleet.
The armed forces wrote in a press release that the exercises are “the largest exercise led by Norway since the 1980s, and the largest exercise planned within the framework of NATO during 2022. These exercises are part of a series that usually take place every two years. in Norway. This year there will be a greater focus on amphibious and airborne forces than in previous years.
During the conversation, Admiral Moiseyev appreciated the information shared, and was positive about a good and open military dialogue in the future. The whole session was carried out in a polite and professional manner, with the subject matter only being the upcoming exercise in Norway this winter,” the armed forces wrote in the press release.
Together with Foreign Minister Anikin Heitfeldt (Labour), Enoxen informed Parliament’s expanded Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Friday morning about the situation after meetings between Russia and NATO on Wednesday.
The first signs from Moscow are not positive, Heutfeldt says, after this week’s meetings between Russia and Western countries.
– They are sticking to the main Russian demands and we are open to further negotiations, says the foreign minister.
– It’s a very dangerous situation, she adds.
– Now they are sitting and thinking about this in Moscow, so we still don’t know what this week’s talks came out of, says the foreign minister.
Enoksen previously reported to VG that the US aircraft carrier The USS Harry S Truman is scheduled to leave the Mediterranean and take part in the Cold Response exercise. The Norwegian frigate “Fridtjof Nansen” is participating in the aircraft carrier group this winter.
The British Navy’s new aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales will also participate. This is what the UK confirmed this week.
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