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OSLO, June 24. /TASS/. The US military base de facto set up in Norway is likely to destabilize the situation in the North and to destroy traditions of Russian-Norwegian good neighborhood, Russian Embassy in Oslo wrote on its Facebook account on Saturday.
On Thursday, Norway’s cabinet announced the decision to extend a relevant Norwegian-US program launched at the beginning of 2017 for one year. The program envisages that US marines will be stationed in Norway’s north. Marines will undergo training in that Scandinavian country, will be engaged in drills in other states and will be rotated occasionally. At least 285 US marines arrived at the V·rnes military base near Trondheim in January and are due to undergo rotation soon.
"We have repeatedly explained our point of view on the issue of setting up a US military base in the territory of Norway. We consider that this step contradicts Norwegian policy of not deploying foreign military bases in the country in times of peace, steps out of line of the traditions of good neighborhood, makes Norway not fully predictable partner, can also escalate tension and lead to destabilization of the situation in the Northern region," the embassy said.
"We see it as an element of the US-led military preparations that have intensified against the background of the anti-Russian propagandist hysteria," it said. "Statements that the deployment of American soldiers is rotation-based and not permanent should not mislead anyone as individual military servicemen will be rotated, while the presence itself will be permanent (this is how any permanent military base is operating)."
The Russian diplomats cannot rule out that the US group "will move on to other countries in the region, inter alia non-aligned. Increasing American forces in Norway is possible as well." Maj. Gen. Neil Nelson, Commander of U.S. Marine Forces Europe and Africa, had earlier voiced this idea. The embassy has doubts that collective steps of Norway and the US could be viewed as exceptionally defensive and calls on them not to return to the Cold War ideology and the arms race.
In 1949, joining NATO Norway assumed a voluntary obligation that no permanent military base for foreign troops would be stationed in the country unless it is attacked or a real threat of such an invasion could be observed. The kingdom’s government underscores that the non-deployment principle has not been violated since Norway has the right to train its Armed Forces along with allies. Norwegian experts point out that the situation with US presence in V·rnes can be interpreted two ways and that political speculations will hammer out the base’s status, either permanent or provisional.