The U.S. has deployed long range bombers to Norway for the first time, increasing ties with Nordic states in response to expanding Russian military and economic activities in the Arctic.
Four U.S. Air Force B-1B bombers arrived at Orland Airbase in central Norway on February 22 for what officials say is a “historic” deployment meant to familiarise U.S. airmen with new terrain.
The move is seen as a message to Moscow that the U.S. is ready to defend its allies in the strategically contested Arctic region.
Mounting tensions between the West and Russia, particularly since the 2014 Crimea crisis, has led both sides to beef up their militaries even in the remote High North, an area believed to be rich in natural resources and where the ice melt has opened up new shipping routes.
But this is not an isolated move. Norway has recently reopened a Cold War-era base, near Tromso, to facilitate access to U.S., UK and French nuclear submarines.
In the coming weeks, the U.S. Army is set to publish a new Arctic strategy, with plans for creating a new Arctic brigade and transforming the existing two-star headquarters of the Alaska command into an operational headquarters.