After accepting a Pentagon proposal, Norway will host US Marines at a base near the Russian border as Russia deploys nuclear-capable ships to Kaliningrad.
A rotating force of approximately 330 Marines will be stationed at an airfield in the city of Vaernes, just outside Trondheim, beginning in January. Norway and Russia share an 122-mile border in the Arctic.
“The US initiative to augment their training and exercises in Norway by locating a Marine Corps Rotational Force in Norway is highly welcome and will have positive implications for our already strong bilateral relationship,” said Norwegian Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide.
The United States has regularly conducted training exercises in Norway. Earlier this year, Marines from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade trained alongside troops from other NATO countries in Exercise Cold Response.
Norway also hosts enough pre-positioned military equipment in climate-controlled caves across the country, staffed by 100 American and Norwegians, to equip 15,000 combat-ready Marines.
As the United States continues to move troops closer to the Russian border, Russia has sought to reinforce its own military presence in Kaliningrad, an enclave situated between Lithuania and Poland.
Russia has announced the deployment of two new Buyan-M class corvettes, the Serpukhov and the Zeleny Dol, to Kaliningrad. The corvettes are capable of carrying nuclear-armed Kalibr (designated “Sizzler” by NATO) cruise missiles, which have a range of 930 miles. Three additional vessels are set for deployment sometime before 2020.
The Baltic Fleet is also expected to deploy the Bastion and Bal land-based anti-ship missile systems. Both systems have a maximum range of approximately 188 miles, making travel by NATO naval vessels in the Baltic Sea difficult.
Russia’s plan to reinforce the Baltic Fleet come after Russian President Vladimir Putin moved up a scheduled deployment of the nuclear-capable Iskander-M missile system to Kaliningrad.