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US troops to be stationed in Norway over security: Oslo

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Marines get to go through the ice breaking drill instructed by the mountain leaders from the UK Royal Commandos in Norway. (Photo via Norwegian Armed Forces)

The United States will station some 330 troops in Norway next year over the country’s "security" concerns, according to the Norwegian Defense Ministry.

The American Marines will be stationed at the Vaernes military base in the central part of the Nordic country from January, the ministry announced on Monday.

"The United States is our most important ally and we have a near bilateral relationship that we wish to develop," Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide said in a statement. "The defense of Norway is dependent on allied reinforcement and it is crucial for Norwegian security that our allies get the knowledge required to operate in Norway, together with Norwegian forces."

Norway, which shares a border with Russia in the Arctic, is a founding member of the US-led NATO alliance.

Norwegian Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide (File photo)

Soereide previously expressed concerns about Russian military activity since Crimea opted in a referendum to rejoin the Russian Federation in March 2014.

In a 2014 interview with Reuters, she claimed the March incident, which also angered the US, showed that Moscow was able and would use military means to achieve its political goals.

The Monday announcement has provoked criticism from parts of the opposition in Norway.

"This is not a good signal to send. We face a cold political climate that requires predictability from Norway," Audun Lysbakken, the leader of the opposition Socialist Left party, told public broadcaster NRK. "We should rather reinforce our national defense and not aim for some form of permanent presence by US troops."

On October 10, the Norwegian Defense Ministry said that it was holding preliminary discussions about the possibility of such a deployment.

Russia expressed surprise about the mooted deployment, saying, considering "multiple statements made by Norwegian officials about the absence of threat from Russia to Norway, we would like to understand why Norway is so much willing to increase its military potential, in particular through the stationing of American forces in Vaernes."

NATO troops have, on numerous occasions, been deployed to the country to take part in military drills, but were not stationed there.

Russian Red Army troops in Northern Norway, October 1945. (Photo via WWIIinColor)

The last time foreign troops were deployed there was when Russian Red Army soldiers were stationed in northern Norway after they drove out German forces, which had occupied Norway from 1940 to 1945.

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