US to increase Marines stationed in Norway, drawing ire from Moscow

US to increase Marines stationed in Norway, drawing ire from Moscow
© Greg Nash

America is more than doubling the number of Marines in Norway, following plans outlined in June, in a move that is drawing ire from Moscow. 

The Norwegian defense ministry said Wednesday that the US would increase the number of Marines stationed there from 330 to 700, according to a Reuters report.

The plans also outlined moving some troops closer to Norway’s border with Russia.

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Norway insists that the increase and movement of US troops is not a military escalation, but Moscow has called the move “clearly unfriendly.”

When the Marines arrived in Norway in 2017, they were the first foreign troops to be stationed there since World War II.

The rotation of US forces was originally scheduled to end after six months. In June, that exit date was extended to the end of this year.

Now, their stay has been extended up to five years.

According to Military.com, Moscow said the decision “cause[s] us serious concern.” The American troops in Norway have been a consistent subject of complaint with the Russian government.

The U.S. replied that the move complied with Norwegian policies and that Russia’s worries are groundless.

“Norwegian and Allied forces are training to defend Norway's territory, and pose no threat to Russia," Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said.

Defence Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen echoed the sentiment in a statement.

“The defense of Norway depends on the support of our NATO allies, as is the case in most other NATO countries,” Bakke-Jensen said. “For this support to work in times of crises and war, we are totally dependent on joint training and exercises in times of peace.”

Last week nine eastern NATO nations asked for a greater presence from the alliance in their region. NATO has generally bolstered its military presence in the region, following Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.