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Dutch General Accuses Russia of Trying to 'Provoke' NATO Marines in Arctic

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Read: 565     12:23     15 October 2018    

Earlier, NATO's supreme allied commander said that the US military was putting Russia "on notice" by deploying a carrier battle group to Norway for massive alliance drills later this month.


Dutch Marine Corps director of operations Gen Jeff Mac Mootry has accused the Russian military of trying to provoke NATO marines operating in the Arctic Circle.

"What we see is there is an increasing interest of Russian naval vessels when we exercise," he said, speaking to the Telegraph at a briefing in Rotterdam.

"For example, when we do launching exercises as part of our ballistic missile defense program, we see more Russian ships than normally and they come closer to us than in past decades. They clearly want to make their presence visible," Mac Mootry explained.

The Dutch general also complained about Russian fighter planes flying "closer over our warships just to make their presence known, you could almost call it, in a provocative way."


According to Mac Mootry, NATO's encounters with Russian forces near Norway are part of a wider "Cold War 3.0." The senior officer did not specify why the present tensions constitute a "Cold War 3.0" rather than the more traditional description of strained Russia-West relations as a 'Cold War 2.0.'

Approximately 400 British marines have been training with their Dutch counterparts in Norway as part of a joint deployment in the region.

The UK has plans to set up a permanent presence in northern Norway and to send 800 marines and commandos to the country for cold weather training in 2019, with UK Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson recently calling the move a response to Cold War era-like Russian submarine activity. "If we turn back the clock 10 years many people thought that the era of submarine activity in the High North, in the North Atlantic, and the threat that it posed did disappear with the fall of the Berlin Wall. This threat has really come back to the fore," Williamson said, speaking at the Conservative Party conference earlier this month.


The 29 members of NATO plus Finland and Sweden are set to hold drills in and around Norway between October 25 and November 7. The drills, known as Trident Juncture, will be the largest NATO exercises in the region in decades, and will involve some 50,000 troops, with training involving a hypothetical attack on Norway 'from the north'. The United States is set to deploy the USS Harry Truman aircraft carrier battle group to the region for the drills, with the US warship becoming the first carrier to enter the Norwegian Sea since 1987. Last week, NATO Secretary General and former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg insisted that Moscow has no reason to consider NATO's drills provocative.

Moscow has expressed concerns about a buildup in NATO strength in the Baltic countries, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria in recent years. Since 1990, NATO has incorporated every one of the former members of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact alliance, and expanded into the Baltic states and several former Yugoslav republics as well, despite making promises not to do so in 1990.

 

Sputnik



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