RUSSIA has vowed to retaliate if Norway executes its plan to more than double the number of US marines stationed in the country.
US marines will be situated 420 kilometres from the Russian border The Russian Embassy in Oslo issued a warning arguing that the move could “cause growing tensions, triggering an arms race and destabilising the situation in northern Europe”.
Writing on Facebook yesterday it added: “We see it as clearly unfriendly, and it will not remain free of consequence.”
The announcement came two days after Oslo said it would ask the United States, its NATO ally, to send 700 marines to train in Norway next year.
Some 330 US marines are currently stationed in Norway after arriving in January 2017 to train for fighting in winter conditions.
They were the first foreign troops to be stationed in Norway since World War Two.
The new US arrivals would be based closer to the Russian border at about 420 kilometres distance - rather than in central Norway.
Oslo has grown increasingly concerned about its relationship with Russia since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
But Ine Eriksen Soereide, Norway’s foreign minister, insisted that the troops should not be a trigger for conflict.
She said: "There will still be a respectful distance with the Russian border.
"We can't see any serious reason why Russia should react, even if we expect it will again this time since it always does about the allied exercises and training."
However Mrs Soereide said that there would not be a permanent US base in Norway.
But in addition to posting more troops, the US has expressed interest in building infrastructure to accommodate up to four US fighter jets at a bar 40 miles (65km) south of Oslo, as part of a European deterrence initiative that was launched after Crimea’s annexation.
In addition to posting more troops in Norway, the ministers said the United States has expressed interest in building infrastructure to accommodate up to four US fighter jets at a base 65 kilometres south of Oslo, as part of a European reassurance initiative launched after Crimea's annexation.
The initiative, launched in 2104, was prompted by the White House to increase the US presence in Europe for security purposes.
Norway’s military plans have the potential to spark tensions in the region as it said it would not station foreign troops on its soil unless it was under attack before becoming a member of NATO in 1949.
To ease Moscow’s concerns, Oslo confirmed it will honour this commitment.
The new troops will work on a rotational bases for five-years rather than being permanent; however, last year’s troops were only in situ for six-month intervals that were extended.
Frank Bakke-Jensen, Norway’s defence minister, said that the country’s defence depends on the support of its NATO allies.
He said: "For this support to work in times of crises and war, we are are totally dependent on joint training and exercises in times of peace.”