Norway to host NATO submarine drill

NATO to hold anti-submarine drill off Norway after suspected Russian submarine chased away from Finland waters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Norway is preparing to host 5,000 NATO soldiers as part of an anti-submarine drill in its waters in the coming days.

Over 10 ships and submarines in addition to aircraft and helicopters will partake in the exercises scheduled between May 4 and 13 in the North Sea as well as in the Skagerrak strait between Norway and Denmark.

The drill has been announced just days after neighboring Finland fired a number of warning shots on a suspected Russian submarine that entered its waters without permission near its capital Helsinki.

Countries in Scandinavia have particularly been on alert over a possible Russian expansion since Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine last year.

A similar incident occurred near Sweden last October, forcing the Swedish navy to mobilise off the coast of its capital Stockholm.

Russia held a five-day military drill in the Arctic in March which included approximately 40,000 servicemen, 41 warships, 15 submarines and 110 aircrafts - the same time Norway conducted its own "Joint Viking" operation involving 5,000 troops in Finnmark county, which borders Russia.

In December, Russian President Vladimir Putin notably said plans to expand Russia’s presence in the resource-rich Arctic region is among key priorities for the military.

Russian ambassador to Denmark, Mikhail Vanin, also recently warned Denmark not to pursue its interest in NATO's missile defence system, telling the Jyllands-Posten newspaper in March that such a move would make Danish warships a target for Russian nuclear missiles.

Such talk led Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland to issue a joint statement earlier this month calling for increased cooperation in the field of defence between Nordic countries in the face of the Russian “challenge.”

In response, Russia said improving ties between Sweden, Finland and NATO were a cause for “special concern.”

However, Norwegian army spokesman Brynjar Stordal denied the planned drill had anything to do with the recent incident in Finland.

"There is no link between the exercise, planned for a long time, and what happened in Sweden and Finland," Stordal told AFP.

"But what happened in those countries further demonstrates the relevance of such an exercise."

TRTWorld and agencies