MOSCOW, June 15. /TASS/. The permission given by the Norwegian government for the US to double its Marine Corps troops in the country and deploy them near the border with Russia undermines mutual confidence, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Friday.
"We paid attention to the reports of the Norwegian Ministry of Defense released on June 13, which contain Oslo’s agreement to double the US Marine Corps stationed on the Norwegian territory from 330 to 700 people, prolong their rotation presence there for five years, expand its footprint to the north, closer to the border with our country, and create infrastructure for warplanes at the expense of the US under the implementation of the so-called European initiative to deter Russia," she said.
"We believe that such decisions undermine the traditional Norwegian policy of non-deployment on its territory of foreign military bases in peace time on permanent basis. It is clear that the actions of the current Norwegian authorities undermine confidence and predictability in bilateral relations and run counter to the earlier given pledges on the rejection of policy with aggressive goals."
Zakharova reiterated that Norway’s authorities repeatedly stated that Russia poses no threat to the country’s security. "Considering that the US Marine Corps is stationed on Norway’s territory, maybe the US attacked Norway?" she assumed. "We are calling on the Norwegian side to consider the Russian opinion on the developments in order to preserve the atmosphere of friendly neighborhood that has been developing for many years."
On June 13, the Norwegian government declared intention to extend the program of military cooperation with the US for at least five years, under which 330 marines were deployed to the west of the kingdom in January 2017. More than 300 US Marine Corps soldiers are also expected to be deployed in the north of Norway and the Setermoen polar garrison after the ongoing negotiations. In addition, the Norwegian Ministry of Defense officially declared Washington’s plans to create infrastructure for four US Air Force fighters at Rygge Air Station.