Joint Viking: Norway buzzes Russian border with biggest military drill since Cold War
Unprecedented war games, involving 5,000 Norwegian troops and 400 vehicles, have started in Norway’s northernmost province, bordering Russia. The biggest exercises since Cold War days will last for a week, amid growing tensions between Russia and NATO.
Joint Viking, Norway’s biggest military training exercise in nearly 50 years, is being held in the country’s far northeast Finnmark County, above the Arctic Circle. The region borders Russia’s Kola Peninsula.
The last time a similar military exercise was conducted in Finnmark was in 1967.
“Today the army will transport their vehicles and crews to Finnmark and begin exercise Joint Viking. This is an operative exercise with all weapons and branches involved,” Norwegian Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Aleksander Jankov said. “To illustrate the magnitude of this, I can mention that if we put the vehicles one after another on the road it will stretch 6km.”
US armor paraded 300m from Russian border (VIDEO)
NATO member Estonia has held a military parade in border town of Narva, just 300 meters from the Russian border. Tallinn is a long-time critic of Moscow, which it accuses of having an aggressive policy towards the Baltic nation.
Tuesday’s military parade was dedicated to Estonia’s Independence Day. Chief military commander Lt. Gen. Riho Terras headed the troops as President Toomas Hendrik Ilves reviewed them.
Over 140 pieces of NATO military hardware took part in the parade, including four US armored personnel carriers M1126 Stryker flying stars-and-stripes. Another foreign nation, the Netherlands, provided four Swedish-made Stridsfordon 90 tracked combat vehicles (designated CV9035NL Mk III by the Dutch).
Over 100 US armored vehicles roll into Latvia, NATO flexes muscles in Europe (VIDEO)
Latvia has confirmed more than 120 armored units, including tanks, have been delivered by the US. According to the Latvian Ministry of Defense, these include M1A2 Abrams tanks and M2A3 Bradley armored vehicles.
The move to deploy yet more tanks and armored vehicles was welcomed by Latvian Minister of Defense Raymond Vejonis.“The presence of our allies (US and NATO) in Latvia is a confirmation of solidarity and security in the region,” Vejonis said in a statement on Twitter.
The tanks were delivered to Latvia via Riga Freeport after being offloaded from the carrier ship Liberty Promise on Monday. US Army General John O’Conner who witnessed the tanks arriving on Latvian soil said, “Freedom must be fought for, freedom must be defended,” as reported by the US Embassy Riga Twitter feed.
He also added their delivery would “demonstrate resolve to President Putin and Russia that collectively we can come together,” while General O’Connor also mentioned, they would stay “for as long as required to deter Russian aggression,” as reported by AFP.