Norway launches High North military exercise

Norwegian soldiers ready for cold climate winter drill. (Thomas Nilsen/Barents Observer)
Norwegian soldiers ready for cold climate winter drill. (Thomas Nilsen/Barents Observer)
5000 soldiers and 400 vehicles take part in the largest winter exercise in Finnmark since 1967

Soldiers from all of the military branches; the army, navy and air-force will execute an extensive exercise this week, mainly in the western part of Finnmark. The county is Norway’s northernmost and borders Russia’s Kola Peninsula in the east.

The Norwegian Armed Forces says the main activity area on-shore will be in the Alta, Porsanger, Karasjok and Kautokeino area. The exercise, named Joint Viking, is part of a consept called joint operative arenas in which several branch specific drills are fused together in order to give all players an increased outcome. All types of weapons will be used, including submarines and surface naval vessels sailing off the coast of Finnmark.

Starting today, Joint Viking will continue to March 18th. According to the newspaper Nordlys, this week’s drill is the largest in Finnmark since 1967.

Last week, Russia staged an air-force exercise in the Barents Sea. Flying from Monchegorsk air base on the Kola Peninsula, fighter jets trained on intercepting missiles and plands of an imaginary army Russian news agencySputnik reports.

Norway and Russia both have coastline to the Barents Sea. Norway and Russia have over the last 20 years developed a sphere of post-Cold- War military cooperation with several joint exercises. The last one, named Pomor 2013, included naval vessels visits to both Severomorsk on the Kola Peninsula and Tromsø in Northern Norway.

After Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in March last year, Norway however suspended all military cooperation with Moscow, arguing Russia’s action violates international laws.

In May this year, more than 100 planes from eight countries will take part in the Arctic Challenge Exercise that takes place in the skies of the Barents Region using the airports in Luleå (Sweden), Rovaniemi (Finland) and Bodø (Norway).

The three Nordic countries have over the last few years initiated a closer military cooperation.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: (Video) Canadian Rangers – The Watchers, Radio Canada International

Finland: Finland to participate in NATO crisis management exercises, YLE News

Norway: Norway, Russia committed to Barents cooperation, despite divisions over Ukarine, Barents Observer

Russia:  More marines for Russia’s Northern Fleet, Blog by Mia Bennett

Sweden: Sweden’s government scared of NATO facts: Moderates Party, Radio Sweden

United States:  U.S. needs Arctic military strategy says defense secretary, Alaska Public Radio Network



Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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