A Russian politician has warned that Norway is in Russia’s crosshairs.
Frants Klintsevitsj, a deputy chairman of Russia’s defense and security committee, said now that the United States has decided to deploy 330 Marines in Norway, Russia views the Scandinavian country as a direct military threat, suggesting that nuclear weapons could be used. He told TV2 that Norwegians “will suffer” from America’s military presence in the country.
Klintsevitsj added, “This is very dangerous for Norway and Norwegians. How should we react to this? We have never before had Norway on the list of targets for our strategic weapons.
“But if this develops, Norway’s population will suffer.”
U.S. troops will be stationed in Værnes, located about 600 miles from Russia’s border with Norway
Norway’s defense minister, Ine Eriksen Søreide, rejected Russia’s claims and said the deployment of Marines is merely a test run and isn’t a move to start a new military base in Værnes.
“There is no objective reason for the Russians to react to this. But the Russians are reacting at the moment in the same way toward almost everything the NATO countries are doing,” Søreide said, as reported by Norway’s The Local.
Norway has been a NATO member since 1949 and has previously housed U.S. military equipment in Cold War-era mountain tunnels. NATO forces have also been training in Norway for several decades.
Tensions between Washington and Moscow have escalated in recent months after Russia got involved in the Syrian civil war.
On Tuesday, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the West’s failure to take down violent militants in Syria has delayed peace talks from resuming. He claimed Western government-backed rebels have been attacking Syrian civilians near the city of Aleppo.
“As a result, the prospects for the start of a negotiation process and the return to peaceful life in Syria are postponed for an indefinite period,” Shoigu said, reported Reuters.
Russia backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, while the U.S. wants Assad gone.
Klintsevitsj’s remarks echo similar ones made about Denmark when, in March 2015, Russia’s ambassador to Denmark warned that Danish ships could become targets if the country joins NATO’s missile defence system.
“I don’t think the Danes fully understand the consequences of what will happen if Denmark joins the American-controlled missile defence. If it happens, Danish war ships will become targets for Russian atomic missiles,” Mikhail Vanin wrote in an opinion piece.