Start of NATO military exercises in Norway with 30,000 troops | NATO News
Cold Response 2022 aims to test how Norway would handle Allied reinforcements on its soil.
Major military exercises involving 30,000 troops from NATO and partner nations have started in Norway as tensions rise between the West and Russia over the war in Ukraine.
Cold Response 2022, scheduled long before Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, aims to test how Norway would handle Allied reinforcements on its soil, in accordance with Article 5 of the NATO charter which obliges Member States to come to the aid of another Member State under attack.
“It’s a defensive exercise,” said General Yngve Odlo, in charge of Cold Response, on Monday.
“This is not an offensive military operation,” he told television channel TV2.
Held every two years, the naval, air and land exercises take place over large swaths of Norway, including above the Arctic Circle.
However, they will remain several hundred kilometers from the border between Norway and Russia. Russia declined Norway’s invitation to send observers.
“Any increase in NATO military capabilities near Russia’s borders does not contribute to strengthening security in the region,” the Russian embassy in Norway told AFP news agency last week.
Russia “has the ability to follow (the exercise) quite legitimately,” Odlo said. “I really hope they stick to the existing agreements,” he added.
As in previous editions of the exercise, neighboring Sweden and Finland, not militarily aligned but increasingly close partners of NATO, will also participate in Cold Response.
The Russian invasion has revived the debate in the two Nordic countries about possible NATO membership.
About 200 planes and 50 ships are also taking part in the maneuvers, which last until April 1.
The exercise began on Monday with naval operations and the deployment ashore of part of NATO’s rapid reaction force.