Maria Zakharova is known for her undiplomatic comments and few raise eyebrows as she lashes out against neighboring countries. The spokeswomen’s wordings at this week’s briefing, however, were especially strong.
Zakharova said Oslo’s enthusiasm over US steps to strengthen its military presence in Norway is provocative.
Pointing to the recently signed agreement which opens for the United States to use four dedicated locations in Norway for joint military purposes, Zakharova said “this is yet another proof that Oslo is gradually abandoning the policy of self-imposed restraints.”
She continued: “This is fully in line with the policy of military build-up and active involvement of NATO in the Arctic.”
Two of the locations where the United States could build infrastructure are Evenes airport and the nearby Ramsund naval station.
Zakharova said this activity happens “in direct proximity to the Russian border.”
Evenes airport is more than 500 kilometers from Norway’s border to Russia if taking a straight line through Finland. In comparison, all of the powerful Northern Fleet’s nuclear submarine bases are within a distance of 60 to 100 kilometers from the border to Norway.
Norway denies accusation
Norway’s Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen told the Barents Observer two weeks ago that “this agreement is not escalating tensions with Russia.”
“The agreement says the United States fully respects Norway’s base politics, not allowing for foreign military bases,” Bakke-Jensen underlined.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman disagrees.
She said Russia regards such activities as “Oslo’s deliberate and destructive line towards aggravating tensions in the Euro-Arctic region and destroying Russian-Norwegian relations.”
“This is not our choice. Russia remains open to an equal and constructive dialogue on building confidence and security in the region, as we pointed out to the Norwegian authorities on numerous occasions,” she ended.
Related stories from around the North:
Canada: Canada’s military launches scaled down annual Arctic exercise, Radio Canada International
Iceland: Iceland talks Arctic, Trump’s ditching of climate accord, with U.S. Secretary of State, Eye on the Arctic
Norway: Norway strengthens its Arctic military in new defense plan as security concerns grow in the region, The Independent Barents Observer
Russia: Putin speech takes on social issues, crisis with the West and grand plans for Arctic infrastructure, The Independent Barents Observer
Sweden: Arctic Sweden to welcome thousands of international troops for Northern Wind exercise, The Independent Barents Observer
United States: U.S. Navy to build airport infrastructure in North Norway to meet upped Russian submarine presence, The Independent Barents Observer