An additional 400 U.S. Marines are being placed in Norway near the Russian border, more than doubling the 330 Marines currently stationed in the country.
U.S. Forces have been training in Norway since January 2017, marking the first time foreign troops have been stationed there since World War II.
The current plan will extend their stay in the country for up to five years.
However, Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide has said the move does not constitute a permanent U.S. base in Norway. “There are no American bases on Norwegian soil,” she said.
The Kremlin responded angrily to the news, threatening consequences for the decision.
“This makes Norway less predictable and could cause growing tensions, triggering an arms race and destabilizing the situation in northern Europe,” the Russian Embassy said in a statement on its Facebook page.
“We see it as clearly unfriendly, and it will not remain free of consequence.”
The United States said Russia has no need to be concerned.
“Norwegian and Allied forces are training to defend Norway’s territory, and pose no threat to Russia,” said Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon.
“We are grateful to our Norwegian hosts for allowing us to use Vaernes as a rotational training facility,” he added.
As reported by Reuters, Olso has grown worried about a Russian threat since Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
However, Norway insists that the Marines’ presence is for training purposes only.
“In times of crisis and war Norway will rely on U.S. and other allied military reinforcements. This is at the core of Norwegian security policy and is further emphasized by our NATO-membership,” Defense Minister Frank Bakke Jensen Bakke-Jensen said in a statement.
“The United States Marine Corps and Norway have a long-standing and successful relationship that we look forward to strengthening. We will continue the dialogue with the US and the USMC, aiming for mutual agreement in the near future on the continuation of the rotational training and exercise activity. The initiative has proven that training and conducting exercises together with allies has had a positive impact on the operational capability of our own forces.”
Norway shares a 122-mile border with Russia, and Marines will be training within 250 miles of that border.
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