Norwegian Armed Forces move soldiers and vehicles to Finnmark, but says the drill is planned long before Russia’s Defence Minister on Tuesday morning ordered a combat readiness inspection of troops.
The unannounced Norwegian combat readiness drill includes troops to Tana in Finnmark, less than 150 kilometres from Putin’s strategically important Kola Peninsula.
“The aim of the exercise is to test the emergency response system of the Northern Brigade and to train responsiveness,” says Lieutenant Colonel Aleksander Jankov, spokesman for the Army, in a phone interview with the Barents Observer on Tuesday evening.
“It is important to drill the operational units of the Army,” Aleksander Jankov tells and underlines the drill has nothing to do with the on-going Russian troops readiness inspection.
NATO deploys 4 battalions to eastern flank
He adds that the drill has been planned for a long time and has also nothing to do with Tuesday’s meeting of NATO Ministers of Defence in Brussels, where Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg underlined that new battalions in the Baltic states and in Poland are part of a bigger shift in NATO’s defence and deterrence posture.
“We will agree to deploy by rotation four robust multinational battalions in the Baltic States and in Poland,” Stoltenberg said according to NATO’s portal.
In order to be as realistic as possible, the snap drill in northern Norway came as a surprise for the divisions and soldiers involved.
The drill includes forces to be moved from the Army’s Garrisons in Troms (Sætermoen and Skjold) to Finnmark. Movements will take place both along the main roads and with helicopters. The Army writes in a press release that it recommends civilians driving along E6 to watch up. Heavy military traffic along the roads will continue throughout the night.
Russia checks mobilization readiness
Russia’s Minister of Defence, Sergey Shoigu says their unannounced readiness check aims at assessing combat and mobilization readiness of troops and forces.
“A number of armament and hardware storing bases and separate military control bodies will be inspected,” Shoigu says according to a press release posted on the Ministry’s portal. The drill will continue for a week.
Russia’s Defence Ministry has informed military attaches of embassies in Moscow of all Vienna Document states about the drill, another press release informs.
Related stories from around the North:
Canada: Canada’s defence review and the Arctic, Eye on the Arctic
Denmark: Nordics to step up security cooperation on perceived Russian threat, Yle News
Finland: Finland confirms 6th Russian airspace violation in just over a year, Yle News
Norway: Norwegian military faces major cuts, The Independent Barents Observer
Russia: New Russian spy ship to keep tabs on Norway, Barents Observer
Sweden: New security landscape in the Arctic, Radio Sweden
United States: U.S. general says Alaska military cuts not final without Arctic plan, Alaska Public Radio Network