Russia attempting to provoke Dutch and UK Marines in Arctic Circle - media

13:30, 15 October 2018
World
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REUTERS

General Jeff Mac Mootry, the Dutch Marine Corps' director of operations, described the tense encounters near Norway as part of a "Cold War 3.0," where Russia relies on a combination of military displays and technology to undermine Western governments, according to The Telegraph.

"What we see is there is an increasing interest of Russian naval vessels when we exercise," he told the Telegraph at a briefing in Rotterdam.

"For example, when we do launching exercises as part of our ballistic missile defense programme, we see more Russian ships than normally and they come closer to us than in past decades. They clearly want to make their presence visible."

He added: "We also see Russian fighters fly closer over our warships just to make their presence known, you could almost call it, in a provocative way."

The Arctic Circle is increasingly viewed as key to UK and NATO strategic interests as the melting of the ice caps have opened up new shipping routes being used by Russia and China.

Approximately 400 marines from 45 Commando have been training with the Dutch Marine Corps in Norway as part of their joint Amphibious Task Force.

Read alsoNATO prepared for 'growing Russian threat' – media

In a state visit that begins on October 23, both forces will take place in a joint exercise on the River Thames to commemorate 45 years of working together.

Gen Mac Mootry also said that he doubted Britain's departure from the EU would undermine their close security partnership.

"We are both NATO partners so I don't foresee any difference in our armed forces working together once Brexit is finalised," he said.

"Whether you like it or not, you are still part of Europe."

Read alsoRussia, West show war games aren’t just games: ex-NATO chief

Gen Mac Mootry's warning came just a few weeks after Gavin Williamson, the UK defense secretary, revealed a "defense Arctic strategy" which would send 800 commandos to Norway next year. The troops will also build a base in the north of the country.

“We see Russian submarine activity very close to the level that it was at the Cold War, and it’s right that we start responding to that," Mr Williamson said in a speech at this year's Conservative party conference.

“If we could turn back the clock 10 years many people thought that the era of submarine activity in the High North, in the North Atlantic, and the threat that it posed did disappear with the fall of the Berlin Wall. This threat has really come back to the fore.” 

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