NRK (Norway): US tighter hold on the Northern areas

American bombers often fly in Northern areas. US military activity there growing faster than the Russian. “There is every reason to closely monitor this,” says former Minister of foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr støre.

Before these powerful war machines were rare guests in the Norwegian airspace, but the situation is changing rapidly. Sweden, which more than a hundred years remained neutral, also involved in what is happening.

“Recently we saw American bombers flew over Sweden and Norway. This has not happened to the current strategic bomber B-1B Lancer flying over neutral Sweden before. This is something new,” says a military consultant to Per-Erik Solli (Per Erik Solli) from Northern University in Buda.

The U.S. air force confirmed that their bombers flying over Sweden for the first time.

“The exercises strengthen the cooperation with our allies and demonstrate the ability to respond to threats around the world, in any region,” said General Jeffrey Harrigan (Jeffrey L. Harrigian), referring to their own troops after flying over Norway and Sweden.

The maximum speed of the bomber B-1B exceeds the speed of sound.

The flight took place just over a month ago. Two American B-1 bomber flew out of Ellsworth in South Dakota. Over Sweden with them in the group also flew the Swedish fighter. Refuel in the air by tanker aircraft, bombers, continued towards Norway.

When they entered Norwegian airspace, to accompany them became Norwegian fighter. In case of conflict, the fighters would protect the big bombers from enemy attacks.

Containment and stabilization

According to the Minister of defence, Norway is now reaping the benefits of the right policy pursued for many years.

“NATO is largely back to its original mission. For us it is a welcome turn, this helps us pursue our policy of containment and stabilization,” — said the Minister of defence Frank Bakke-Jensen (Frank Bakke-Jensen).

The Swedes are also involved in this cooperation, because everyone understands that in case of war or crisis affected each Scandinavian country.

“Before Sweden and Finland called itself neutral. Now it is not so. They say they don’t belong to any alliances, however, involved in Western defense cooperation. It is new, but want themselves and Sweden with Finland,” says Bakke-Jensen.

NATO was not interested

Ten years ago, the degree of interest in the Northern areas was quite different. The then Minister of foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr støre (Jonas Gahr Støre) has expressed concern over the fact that NATO did not pay attention to Russia’s neighboring areas in the North, and tried to change it.

“We were in a completely different situation than now. At the meetings in the framework of NATO I have often seen my colleagues have very limited knowledge about the North. But now tensions between the US and Russia felt much stronger than ten years ago,” says støre.

NRK: is it Good that the Americans began to show interest in the Northern regions?

Jonas Gahr støre: From the point of view of Norway, it will be bad, if the region becomes a zone of increased tension, but until you do, I think.

Exercises three times in four weeks

Exercises in which Norwegian and Swedish fighter was involved in on a par with bombers of the United States, passed may 20. The armed forces reported that next month the Norwegian fighter jets were also involved in two joint operations by the Americans.

June 3 an American B-52 bomber, along with the Norwegian fighters flew in international airspace North of Finnmark.

June 18, the Norwegian pilots trained together with the B-2 bomber. The armed forces are not misleading, where he was teaching, but we know that it was near Norway. Photos of the Norwegian aircraft during maneuvers is not — in the frame were only American.

During all of the exercises for combat aircraft followed the American tankers to increase the range of bombers.

“The Russians are more consistent”

The operational headquarters of the armed forces collects statistics on how many interceptions do the Norwegian fighters. Most recently, last week, several Russian aircraft were intercepted in international airspace near the borders of Norway. But, according to the armed forces, in the past year, Russia behaves as usual. This is confirmed by experts.

“In recent years, the Russians were more consistent in their military activities in the North, than NATO. Bombers of the Americans and the allies were flying in the Northern areas before, but in the last year more often,” says a military consultant to Per-Erik Solli from Northern University in Buda. A former fighter pilot, he has several years of watching developments in this area.

Armed forces, told NRK that they do not have a General information about how often the allied planes are in the neighboring areas of Norway. So it’s hard to say exactly how much of the increased activity.

“When comparing it turns out that in the last two years, the activity of the United States and allies is growing faster than the Russian. However, if we consider the last 15 years, the picture is complicated,” says Solly.

“Russian front”

Norwegian defense Minister believes that Russia’s activity in recent years makes it necessary to reinforce the US military presence and allies in the North.

“Since 2007, it is Russia, not NATO, were ahead in terms of building up defense and activity,” says Bakke-Jensen.

But Norway faces an important condition for allies who want to be more active in the region.

“We would like the joint exercises on the territory of Norway, both on land and in the air and on the water, held only with Norwegian troops,” — said Bakke-Jensen.

Pressure on several fronts

But the US showing teeth not only in Russia.

“Unusual is happening now that the Americans began to use their modern military ships and bombers to send geopolitical signals. And part of Sweden along with the United States — and do something new,” says a military consultant Per Erik Solli.

The Americans are expanding operations to other border areas in the Baltic States, in Alaska, in the Pacific ocean. And Asia. Recently, the United States sent two aircraft carrier in the South China sea.

“We see that the United States returned to more traditional methods of deterrence, being present in strategically important locations together with the allies. Apart from the fact that the Americans are trying to balance Russia militarily, they are doing the same towards China,” says Solly.

It is desirable to reduce the tension

A new development of relations between the superpowers will not affect the place of Norway in the world. We asked the Russian Ambassador in Norway to comment on this subject, but he has not responded yet. However, in the past, Russia negatively reacted to joint military exercises in the North.

“We in any case should not get into a situation when other countries will begin to exacerbate the tensions in our neighbourhood without our participation. In the interest of Norway to take care of de-escalation,” — said Jonas Gahr støre.

NRK: is there a danger that we find ourselves in this situation?

Jonas Gahr støre: There is every reason to follow closely the developments.