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Russia responds to NATO drill in its backyard

  • 2 Nov 2018

Russia is holding live missile drills and flight missions in the Norwegian and Barents seas at a time when NATO is conducting its largest drill in the region since Cold War.

NATO's largest military exercise since the Cold War "Trident Juncture 18" is being launched in Trondheim, Norway on October 30, 2018. ( AA )

Russia is conducting a live missile drill near Norway between November 1 and 3 amid a massive ongoing military drill by NATO.

Moscow’s missile drill in the region coincides with the North Atlantic Alliance’s maritime and air operations. Named Trident Juncture 2018 it is NATO’s largest military drill since the Cold War, featuring about 50,000 troops from 31 countries, 10,000 combat vehicles, some 250 aircrafts and 65 ships.  

The drill is being carried out in parts of Norway and the surrounding areas of the North Atlantic and the Baltic Sea between October 25 and November 7.

The Russian air force flew two Tupolev-160 strategic bombers on a “routine mission,” over the international waters of the Barents and Norwegian seas on Wednesday.

The Russian Defence Ministry said that the Russian aircrafts were escorted by F-16 jets from Norway’s air forces during the scheduled flight over the international waters of the Norwegian and Barents seas. 

Abdullah Agar, a Turkish security expert and analyst, told TRT World: “The importance of the Baltic and Norwegian territory will increase for global trade as global warming takes effect, since the climate change is expected to shift the world trade route to the Northern seas.” 

Agar added: “Trident Juncture 2018 can be counted as a counter the drill against the Russian Vostok-2018 military drill, which was conducted last month with the participation of some 300,000 soldiers and thousands of armoured vehicles.

 “New geopolitical balances among the states are emerging for the world politics. At this point, choosing Norway for the NATO drills is so crucial and meaningful to respond Russia’s actions in the region.”

 Agar emphasised: “Just like in the past, the struggle for power is emerging again between the East and the West blocks.”

He interprets the process, frequently seen in the Cold War-era, as the parties testing each other’s nerves, particularly with Russia and NATO operating drills in the same zone.

“We can see more shows of force, like making military exercises in the same area or near the border of the opposite sides, and confrontations in the future,” Agar said.

 “We can say that the new the Cold War period has started,” he added. “Until the new world order is established, serious strains will occur between NATO and Russia.”

NATO and Russian envoys talks 

Meanwhile, envoys from Russia and NATO met on Wednesday to discuss their respective large-scale military exercises as well as a Cold War-era missile treaty which Washington has vowed to quit, accusing Russia of non-compliance, the Western alliance said.

NATO head Jens Stoltenberg also called on Russia to make quick changes to comply in full with the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. Russia denies violating it. 

“We all agree that the INF Treaty has been crucial to Euro-Atlantic security… Allies have repeatedly expressed serious concerns about the new Russian missile system, known as the 9M729 or SSC-8,” Stoltenberg said in the statement. 

He said development of the SSC-8 land-based, intermediate-range cruise missile posed “a serious risk to strategic stability”. 

“NATO has urged Russia repeatedly to address these concerns in a substantial and transparent way, and to actively engage in a constructive dialogue with the United States… We regret that Russia has not heeded our calls,” Stoltenberg added. 

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