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Norway will host high visibility NATO exercise

"Last year was not a good year for European security," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said last week when presenting the alliance's annual report.

"A black year," was words the Former Norwegian Prime Minister used pointing to Russian troops actively involved in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.

On Wednesday, Stoltenberg met defense ministers from NATO's 28 member states, including Norway's Ine Eriksen Søreide.

"Allied military cooperation must now be safeguarded and further strengthened through exercises and training. This is a main priority for NATO in the time to come. Last year, I offered that Norway could host the large NATO exercise in 2018. I'm very pleased that NATO now accepts the invitation. It contributes to strengthen preparedness and response capacity within the alliance," says Ine Eriksen Søreide in a press-release from Brussels Wednesday evening.

She points to the fact that Norway also before has hosted NATO exercises. It is not said where in Norway the estimated 25.000 soldiers will go, but such large scale, multi-weaponry operations are normally carried out in Nordland and Troms.

The Defense Minister says allied training in the north will strengthen the defense of our neighboring areas.

Russia is currently modernizing military capabilities in the Arctic, including new troops to the Kola Peninsula, in addition to a large-scale renewing of the country's surface- and submarine fleet located at bases close to the border to Norway. Kremlin's ambitious military modernization program also includes a new Arctic brigade.

Following the March-2014 annexation of Crimea, Norway suspends bilateral military activities with Russia until the end of 2015.

[Source: By Thomas Nilsen, Barents Observer, Kirkenes, Nor, 04Feb15]

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