NATO flexes muscle amid escalating tension with Russia

 Jens Stoltenberg

Jens Stoltenberg

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) on Tuesday showcased its air, sea and land forces in a high-profile demonstration as part of its biggest military exercise since the end of the Cold War in Norway amid escalating tension with Russia.


The hour-long joint demonstration with various military scenarios, held at a waterfront site near Trondheim in central Norway, was a show of forces before NATO dignitaries, foreign observers and the international press.


“We are facing the most challenging security environment in a generation and NATO has responded with the biggest adaptation of our collective defence in a generation,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told a joint press conference with Norway’s Minister of Defence Frank Bakke-Jensen before the demonstration.


The Trident Juncture 2018 exercise, which started on October 25 and runs through November 7, involves around 50,000 participants from all 29 NATO members and its partners Sweden and Finland, with about 250 aircraft, 65 vessels and up to 10,000 vehicles.


Russia has complained that the levels of military activities conducted by NATO near Russian borders have been higher than ever since the Cold War.


Stoltenberg said NATO was notified last week that Russia plans to test missiles this week in the international waters of the North Atlantic west of Norway, in the vicinity of where NATO is carrying out the massive exercise.


“I expect Russia to behave in a professional way and it will not change the plans of our exercise,” Stoltenberg said.


According to Norway’s local media, the country’s civil airport operator Avinor has been informed by Russian aviation authorities of the missile tests that will take place on November 1-3.


Julie Wilhelmsen, a senior research fellow at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, thought that the exercise “fits into a pattern of escalating tension between Russia and NATO in Europe following the crises in Ukraine in 2014.”


“There has been military posturing, increasing numbers of military exercises and movement of troops and military installations closer to the border of the other party,” she said.


The Russian Foreign Ministry said last week that the NATO drills in Northern Europe are obviously anti-Russian and they will lead to a deterioration of the military and political situation in the region.  -Xinhua

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