Russian Military Experts: NATO Exercise in Norway a Provocation
March 17, 2012 • 5:15AM

NATO is current holding its "The Cold Response 2012" exercise in Northern Norway on the border with Russia. This is the largest military exercise in Norway in ten years, involving 16,000 soldiers from 15 countries. The exercise includes the largest ever live firing drill held on Norwegian territory.

And the Russians have taken notice.

"The current military exercise takes place amid NATO's increased activities in the Arctic. This, in turn, is defined by the coming division of the natural resources in the region. Apparently, through flexing muscles, NATO wants to show that it is set on strengthening its geopolitical and diplomatic efforts with military might," says chief editor of the newspaper National Safety Igor Korotchenko to Voice of Russia.

The exercise could as well have been held on Canadian territory, says Vladimir Yevseyev of the Center for International Security of the Institute of Global Economy and International Relations: "Nevertheless, the exercises are being held on the territories of Norway and Sweden, in close proximity to the border of Russia. They might thus been seen as a provocation." Russia has all grounds for concern, Yevseyev says, as "vessels equipped with the Spanish-made Aegis system can be deployed to the Arctic."

Russia is keeping a close eye on the military activities in the Arctic, Igor Korotchenko says to Voice of Russia: "Russia is now creating two Arctic mobile brigades which can operate in any part of the Arctic, where it is necessary to protect the country's interests."

The two motorized rifle brigades specially trained for operations in the Arctic, are planned to be created in Murmansk and Arkhangelsk regions. In Murmansk it is the 200th motorized infantry brigade in Pechenga, some 10 kilometers from the Russian-Norwegian border, that is up for reorganization as an Arctic brigade.