Large-scale NATO military exercises Nordic Response have started near the borders of Russia.

They will take place in the northern regions of Finland, Norway and Sweden.

“The Nordic Response 2024 exercise has begun!

Over the next two weeks, 20 thousand allied troops will practice defending the northern territories of our alliance.

Together we guarantee the security of NATO, demonstrating strength, unity and cohesion,” the press service of the Norwegian Armed Forces said on the official page on the X social network.

A total of more than ten countries will take part in the training, which will last until March 15, including the US, UK, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.

The maneuvers will take place on land, at sea and in the air.

They are organized with the leading participation of the Norwegian Armed Forces.

It is expected that more than 100 aircraft will be involved in the exercises, including fighter jets and maritime reconnaissance aircraft, as well as helicopters.

In addition, about

50 ships, including submarines, frigates, corvettes, aircraft carriers and various landing craft.

According to the legend of the exercises, an attack occurs on one of the NATO countries, as a result of which Article 5 of the North Atlantic Alliance Treaty is activated and the members of the bloc defend the state that was attacked.

“The exercise will demonstrate NATO’s operational capabilities, cohesion and desire to defend the entire territory of the alliance,” the press service of the Finnish Defense Forces reports, noting that the countries and partners of the alliance intend to create conditions for strengthening NATO troops in the north “in order to practice a joint defensive operation” in Arctic zone.

It is also emphasized that the Finnish side will take part for the first time as an alliance country in exercises on the collective defense of the bloc’s regions.

“Thus, this is the most significant participation in an international exercise in the history of the Finnish Armed Forces... Participation in the exercise will contribute to greater integration of Finland into NATO as a participating country,” the message states.

As the head of the joint headquarters of the Norwegian Armed Forces, responsible for conducting maneuvers in this country, Vice Admiral Rune Andersen, noted for his part, given that all the countries of Northern Europe “will soon unite under the auspices of NATO,” the exercises will become a platform for “Northern European integration” and cooperation in terms of defense.

“This will help us improve and keep the Nordic countries safer,” Andersen said.

He said the maneuvers were “important and necessary” given the “current situation” in the security field.

“It is more important than ever to prepare to defend our territories, as well as to accept allied soldiers and materiel.

Equally important is strengthening our ability to cooperate and operate together with NATO member and partner forces,” Andersen said.

  • Swedish military personnel

  • © AP Photo/David Keaton

In turn, the commander of the Norwegian Air Operations Center and brigadier of the country's Royal Air Force, Tron Strand, announced that given the current security situation in Europe, “the exercise is extremely relevant and important as never before.”

“We must be able to fight back and stop anyone who tries to challenge our borders, values ​​and democracy,” the military said.

According to him, NATO troops need to know the terrain and the conditions in which they operate.

“This is new knowledge that we must practice regularly,” the commander said. 

Destructive line

Moscow responded to the start of NATO maneuvers with Nordic Response.

As Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Alexander Grushko told reporters, Russia is monitoring the exercises that have started near its borders, which increase the risks of military incidents.

“The military is watching, we have all the necessary means for this.

Our political position is well known.

We believe that these teachings are demonstrative

provocative nature.

Any exercises, especially in geographic proximity to the contact line, increase the risk of military incidents.

Therefore, from the point of view of ensuring the defense capability of the Russian Federation, all necessary measures have been taken,” Grushko noted.

At the same time, he said, “all this activity” further weakens European security and creates “additional risks in northern Europe.”

Earlier, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the Nordic Response exercises would lead to an “additional escalation of tensions” in the Euro-Arctic region and would not go unanswered from Moscow.

“Our country will not leave the buildup of NATO’s military potential on its borders unanswered and will take adequate defensive measures to counter threats to its national security,” the Russian diplomat said.

According to Zakharova, such “militaristic actions” harm the security of Norway itself, which took patronage of the Nordic Response exercises, “virtually voluntarily” abandoning its own independence and sovereignty.

The maneuvers are “in line with the destructive Oslo line” to intensify “military preparations under the auspices of NATO” in Norway, said a representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

As Zakharova noted, another step in this direction was Oslo’s “more significant efforts” to increase military cooperation with Washington, “including near the borders with Russia.”

In particular, we are talking about the signing on February 2 by Norway and the United States of an agreement to amend the Norwegian-American Supplementary Agreement on Defense Cooperation of 2021.

“The new document provides for a significant increase in the number of military facilities in Norway, which, with broad rights, are indefinitely transferred to the disposal of the American armed forces... These forces can be freely used by the United States, including for the deployment of assets, forward storage of weapons, and conducting exercises.

A number of facilities are located in close proximity to the Russian border,” Zakharova said in a statement.

According to her, this agreement, like the 2021 agreement itself, contradicts the Norwegian government’s “policy of not providing foreign armed forces with bases” on Norwegian territory in peacetime, since it “establishes a permanent US military presence” in the country.

  • NATO soldier's chevron

  • © Turkish Defense Ministry / Handout / Anadolu via Getty Images

“Practice the transfer of troops”

As military expert Alexey Leonkov noted in a RT commentary, NATO countries organized large-scale Nordic Response exercises to put the northern flank of the alliance on alert.

“Combat training is carried out, judging by the scenario, in the event of a so-called Russian threat.

Although the Russian Federation does not threaten anyone, the West pursues its own goals and continues to toy with the idea of ​​a Russian invasion.

NATO needs this to present the exercises as supposedly defensive, but this kind of maneuvers are aimed specifically at offensive actions.

In fact, aggressive plans are being worked out by the alliance, which would be happy to organize a series of provocations near the borders of Russia,” the analyst said.

According to Leonkov, against the background of this “anti-Russian hysteria” in the West, it was proposed to create an Arctic NATO, which would consist of countries whose territories are located in Arctic latitudes.

“With the entry of Finland and Sweden into the bloc, we can state that, in fact, this has already happened,” the expert explained.

In addition, according to Leonkov, as part of the exercises, the United States will practice its actions at military bases in Finland, Sweden and Norway, which, thanks to bilateral agreements with Washington, are actually under its military leadership.

“The focus is on the front flank of Sweden and Finland: their bases are needed to accommodate forward-based anti-missile and anti-aircraft weapons, strike systems, including aviation ones.

The fact is that the airfield network in these countries makes it possible to control the Arctic Circle.

The Nordic Response exercises are related to the need to practice the transfer of NATO troops to the eastern borders of the alliance,” he believes.

Military observer Alexander Khrolenko shares a similar opinion.

The expert clarified that we are mainly talking about the transfer of American troops to Europe.

“That is, logistics, technology, tactics, and a strategy for the redeployment of US troops to Europe are being worked out.

All other NATO armies are acting in support,” Khrolenko noted.

According to him, the Nordic Response exercises were organized to “draw Russia’s attention away from the Ukrainian theater of operations.

“The exercises are taking place against the backdrop of the Northern Military District and are aimed at ensuring that Russia diverts its attention.

The goal is to force the Russian Federation to be distracted and, perhaps, even to pull some of its resources closer to the region where the maneuvers are taking place,” the expert believes.

As Khrolenko noted, Nordic Response reflects NATO's aggressive offensive strategy.

“They are talking about some kind of defensive operations and are involving fighter jets, warships and 20 thousand military personnel in the maneuvers.

So we are talking about offensive actions using heavy weapons.

Wherever the United States is, there are always preparations for war, and there can be no talk of increasing security in the region,” the expert concluded.

  • NATO soldiers

  • © AP Photo/Virginia Mayo

At the same time, Leonkov, for his part, recalled that Russia has a direct border with Finland and Norway, which runs along the Kola Peninsula, where the Northern Fleet base is located.

“Alliance ships will not go far to the northern latitudes, since previous NATO exercises that were held in these latitudes showed that they are not intended to conduct combat operations in this region, they simply freeze there.

But now it’s spring, and the ships will be able to go further, try to conduct live firing, interact with ground forces, and create tension near the Russian borders,” Leonkov said.

In such conditions, Russia is forced to respond to such militaristic actions of the North Atlantic Alliance, the analyst noted.

“The Russian Federation has strengthened its northern flank, increased the number of military bases and units, the number of troops, and deployed defense and strike assets.

In addition, by decree of Vladimir Putin, the Leningrad Military District was created and separated at the end of February.

Russia continues to strengthen its northern flank, it uses the experience gained during the Northern Military District, including the elimination of NATO weapons,” Leonkov concluded.