Russia has no reason to feel provoked by increased US military training in Norway, said Høyre’s (H) Defence Minister, Frank Bakke-Jensen.
He was in Rena camp on Tuesday, with the press in tow, to greet newly returned soldiers from the Telemark battalion. In tightly packed snow, the minister also got a ride in the battalion’s recently upgraded CV 90 sledge.
The discussion about the American presence, Russia and Norwegian base policy is now on the table of the fresh Defence Minister. Bakke-Jensen believes a distinction must be made between foreign bases on Norwegian soil, and allied training exercises.
‘We must also be clear about this to Russia, with openness about who is here, what they do, and where they train. We’ve done this for many decades. That is the answer to the debate’, he said to NTB news.
Bakke-Jensen rejects the argument that Russia has some reason to feel provoked.
‘It’s important for us to show that we are a reliable partner in the alliance, also towards Russia. It’s about stability, clarity, and being ‘readable’.
But from research teams, there are questions of whether the American presence, in the form of so-called ‘rotating training’ at Værnes, really strengthens Norwegian security, or rather acts as provocation towards Russia, thus weakening our security. Several political parties believe the training scheme challenges the foundations of Norwegian base policy.
The 1949 ‘Base Declaration’ states that foreign powers’ fighting forces shouldn’t be based on Norwegian soil during peacetime.
© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today