Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Norway welcomes US Marines amid Russian tensions

November 30, 2016 Washington (CNN) US Marines are coming to Norway -- a move that could send a chill down Russian President Vladimir Putin's spine.
Beginning in January 2016, a limited rotational force of approximately 330 Marines will be located in Vaernes, Norway, according to a statement to CNN from the Norwegian Defense Ministry.
"The US initiative to augment their training and exercises in Norway by locating a Marine Corps Rotational Force in Norway is highly welcome and will have positive implications for our already strong bilateral relationship," Norwegian Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide said in a statement.
"We enjoy a very close relationship with the Norwegian Armed Forces and a limited rotational presence in Norway would certainly enhance this relationship and our ability to operate together," Maj. Gen. Niel E. Nelson, commander of US Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa, said in a statement last week to CNN while the request was being considered by Norway.
The statement noted that a Marine presence in Norway -- which shares a 122-mile border with Russia -- "will increase NATO's ability to rapidly aggregate and employ forces in northern Europe."

US Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicles before a public demonstration in the Trondheim Fjord in Norway in January.

Tensions about Russia's posture in Europe have increased following the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, following Putin's intervention in eastern Ukraine.The US and its NATO allies have since increased their presence, as well as assistance to Poland and the countries on the Baltic Sea. Earlier this year, members of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade trained in Norway alongside troops from other NATO countries in Exercise Cold.