Massive US/NATO Drill in Norway Prompts Fears of New World War
October 28, 2018
Andreas Berg / Special Ops & Andrew Osborn / Reuters
Opposition of Norwegian politicians have warned that "Trident Juncture," a large-scale drill involving about 50,000 from 31 nations is exacerbating tensions between the US and Russia, and placing Norway in the middle as Washington increasingly targets Russia with provocations. Meanwhile, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has denounced Donald Trump's decision to leave an arms control treaty that helped end the Cold War. Gorbachev fears a new arms race and an increased risk of nuclear conflict.
Gigantic NATO Drill in Norway
Spurs Fears of 'Record Speed' Cold War
Andreas Berg / Special Ops
(October 25, 2018) -- A large-scale drill involving about 50,000 from 31 nations has prompted the opposition of Norwegian politicians and has been slammed for exacerbating tensions between the US and Russia, placing Norway between a rock and a hard status.
The major Trident Juncture exercise, which kicks off today and is the largest in decades, is fraction of a unique cold war between Russia and the United States, Julie Wilhelmsen, a researcher at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) told the daily newspaper Klassekampen.
"Few thought a unique cold war would spread north, but now it's moving with record speed, and this exercise is a sign of it," Julie Wilhelmsen told the newspaper.
In drills, unseen since the early 1980s, 50,000 NATO soldiers are in status to practice the defense of Norway against the fictional land of Murinius. Trident Juncture is being accompanied by the US air drill Northern Screen involving 1,000 US soldiers in Troms County. The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman is also fraction of the drill.
According to Wilhelmsen, Trident Juncture must be seen as one of the numerous factors increasing the tensions between Norway and Russia. Hundreds of US soldiers stationed at several bases across Norway and extensive NATO exercises contain triggered condemnation from the Russian authorities.
Russia (and many Norwegian politicians as well) believes Norway is violating its self-imposed ban from 1949 on having foreign bases on Norwegian soil. Wilhelmsen herself argued that the Norwegian government is departing from the country's time-tested defense policy, characterizing the development as scary.
"From 2008 onwards, Norway has expressed the wish that NATO's attention should be shifting north, with a heavier military footprint, especially from the US," the NUPI researcher told Klassekampen. "The policy of balance, which is both deterring and at the same time reassuring, with close contact and restrictions on military presence from other nations in status, seems to be deprioritized," she said.
Bjornar Moxnes, the leader of the Reds, is also alarmed by recent developments.
"Norway is a small country. We contain everything to benefit from a world where conflicts are solved through dialogue and international bodies such as the UN, not through arms races," Moxnes told Klassekampen. He noted that the Norwegian government should rather expose wisdom than servility to the US. "Neither the Russians nor the Americans will protect the Norwegian civilian population if Norway were to become a battlefield between superpowers," Moxnes concluded.
Lars Haltbrekken of the Socialist Left Party (SV) blasted the arrival of the giant US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, whose motto is "Give'em hell," calling its presence in Norwegian waters unwise and unfortunate.
Ahead of the drill, protests featuring a number of organizations, NGOs and political parties were held in several Norwegian cities. Geir Hem, one of the leaders in Oslo against the NATO exercise Trident Juncture, called the drill a "lesson in subordination," suggesting it merely emphasized the role of the US.
Trident Juncture is billed as a defensive exercise, ensuring allies' ability to reach to Norway's rescue if NATO's Article 5 is triggered. The drill is taking status between October 25 and November 7, with:
from 31 nations,
65 vessels and
over 10,000 vehicles.
The Americans are the largest contingent with 18,500 soldiers, which is more than Norway's entire Armed Forces during peacetime.
US Exit from Nuclear Arms Pact
Increases Risks of War -- Gorbachev
Andrew Osborn / Reuters
MOSCOW (October 26, 2018) -- Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, denounced on Friday a US decision to leave an arms control treaty that helped end the Cold War, saying it heralded a new arms race which increased the risk of nuclear conflict.
President Donald Trump has said Washington plans to quit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan signed in 1987. The pact eliminated all short- and intermediate-range land-based nuclear and conventional missiles held by both countries in Europe.
Gorbachev, in a column for the New York Times newspaper, said the US move was "a dire threat to peace" that he still hoped might be reversed through negotiations.
"I am being asked whether I feel bitter watching the demise of what I worked so hard to achieve. But this is not a personal matter. Much more is at stake," he wrote. "A new arms race has been announced."
Washington has cited Russia's alleged violation of the treaty as its reason for leaving it, a charge Moscow denies. Russia in turn accuses Washington of breaking the pact.
Stationing of US land-based nuclear missiles in Western Europe provoked mass protests in the 1980s. Some US allies now fear Washington might deploy a new generation of them in Europe, with Russia doing the same in its exclave of Kaliningrad, once again turning the continent into a potential nuclear battlefield.
If the United States made good on its pledge to leave the treaty, Gorbachev said he hoped that US allies would refuse to be what he called launchpads for American missiles, which Trump has spoken of developing.
President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia would be forced to target any European countries that agreed to host US missiles.
Gorbachev, 87, said that any disputes about compliance could be solved if there were sufficient political will.
It was clear, however, that Trump's aim was to release the United States from global constraints, he said, accusing Washington of destroying the "system of international treaties and accords" that underpinned peace and security after World War Two.
"Yet I am convinced that those who hope to benefit from a global free-for-all are deeply mistaken. There will be no winner in a 'war of all against all' -- particularly if it ends in a nuclear war. And that is a possibility that cannot be ruled out. An unrelenting arms race, international tensions, hostility and universal mistrust will only increase the risk."
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