Norway launches a massive military exercise
Updated: 2015-03-17 10:54
OSLO - Norway said on Monday it is "closely" following Russia's combat readiness exercise in the Arctic as the NATO country is also conducting military drills in its northern region.
Russia did not inform Norway of the military exercise, which was launched earlier Monday, but so far the Scandinavian country has no indication that it needs to be informed, Ann Kristin Salbuvik, a press contact for the Norwegian Ministry of Defence, told Xinhua.
"So far we have no indication that they (the Russians) needed to inform us of this exercise, but we will follow it closely, as we do with activity in the High North as a rule," she said.
The Norwegian Ministry of Defence official explained that the Vienna Document, an agreement between the participating states of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), regulates what military exercises need to be informed and which do not.
Russia's latest move "is a readiness exercise comprising mainly of maritime forces, as far as we can tell, and maritime forces are exempt from the duty to inform...and also if there are less than 9, 000 land or air troops," Salbuvik said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered to put the Northern Fleet, certain units of airborne forces and the Western Military District on full combat alert from Monday morning as part of snap checks, Russia's TASS news agency quoted Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying.
The drill, which involves 38,000 military, 3,360 units of equipment, 41 warships, 15 submarines, and 110 planes and helicopters, will help to evaluate the capabilities of the Northern Fleet to ensure Russia's military security in the Arctic, Shoigu said.
On March 9, Norway, a member of the Western military alliance NATO, launched a massive military exercise dubbed "Joint Viking" in the northern region of Finnmark, which borders Russia's Murmansk Oblast.
About 5,000 Norwegian servicemen from the Navy, Army, Air Force, Special Forces, National Guard and other units are involved in the exercise, which is the biggest military exercise in the region in nearly 50 years and will last until Wednesday.