A major NATO maneuver exposes Norway as a weak point

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NATO will hold its biggest maneuver in decades in February. One scene focuses on Norway and Russia.

KIRKENEZ — 90,000 soldiers, thousands of tanks, dozens of warplanes: The NATO defense alliance is conducting an emergency drill during February's large-scale “Resolute Defender” exercise to fend off Kremlin dictator Vladimir Putin. Russia Underline.

According to media reports, the Bundeswehr will participate with 12,000 soldiers, 3,000 vehicles and 30 aircraft. The focus of the German armed forces will be on moving the 10th Panzer Division to Lithuania in the Baltics. At the same time, other NATO associations are organizing loudly Build Possible protection of the Norwegian border in the north of Scandinavia.

Major NATO Maneuvers: Border focus between Norway and Russia

Because: Norway It shares a 197.7 km long land border with Russia and a 23.2 km long sea border in the Varangerfjord of the Barents Sea. NATO's massive exercises here give the impression that the military alliance views Norway's extreme northeast as a potential Achilles' heel. There are several reasons for this: the strength of the Russian Northern Fleet, the manageable size of the Norwegian armed forces and the geographical location.

Moscow Navy personnel stand in front of a Russian warship near Murmansk. (archive photo) © IMAGO/Lev Fedoseyev

This geographical location makes securing the country's border a major challenge. Fjords, with their waters and their mountains, form natural barriers against potential attackers. But protecting these fjords will be even more difficult if the Barents Sea is not controlled. Here comes the Great Northern Fleet Moscow In the game.

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Russian Northern Fleet: Moscow has large warships and several submarines in the Barents Sea

It has seven bases between the Bolshaya Lopatka naval base on the Zapatnaya Lisa Fjord and the city of Murmansk, including the main base in Severomorsk. Lopatka is 55 kilometers from the Norwegian border. Currently there are only estimates of how large the Northern Fleet was. Admiral “Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov”, Russia's only aircraft carrier, is currently in dry dock in Murmansk for repairs.

The large missile frigate “Admiral Nakhimov” and the missile cruiser “Marshal Ustinov” are also part of the Northern Fleet. Like the “Moskva” sunk by the Ukrainians in April 2022, the latter warship is of the Project 1164 type. “Admiral Shapanenko” and “Admiral Ushakov” missile destroyers and three small but modern frigates. The Project 22350 ship class completes a powerful association. Last but not least, a fleet of several Project 22350 nuclear-powered submarines are based in the Kola Peninsula's docks and shipyards.

Norway-Russia border: Norway's armed forces are relatively small

Two of the most modern nuclear submarines of the Borey class (Project 955) are also in the inventory of the Northern Fleet, “Yuri Tolgoruky” (commissioned in 2013) and “Kanias Vladimir” (commissioned in 2020). It is also known that it is located in a military base Murmansk MiG-31 fighter jets are stationed in the Barents Sea Patrol.

Norwegian soldiers stand not far from Kirkenes on the Russian border.
Norwegian soldiers stand not far from Kirkenes on the Russian border. © IMAGO / TT

Norway with about 5.5 million people? The Scandinavians had to defend their large country with a relatively small army. On the water, the Norwegian Navy may be inferior with its five modern Fridjof Nansen-class frigates. The country is currently buying 34 advanced F-35 stealth fighters from the US for the Royal Norwegian Air Force.

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Norwegian Armed Forces: F-35 fighter jets are stationed in the center of the country

However, these are mainly based at Ørland Military Airport in the middle of the country. In the Arctic Challenge Exercise (ACE), the Norwegians, together with the Swedish and Finnish air forces, rehearse the defense of Scandinavia in the air every two years. Norway's real weakness is probably its military. As stated therein Global Firepower Index (GFP) Of the 36 Cheetah 2A4NO main battle tanks, only 29 are currently operational (as of January 22). According to the understanding of the Bundeswehr, even one closed battalion (46 tanks) would not be enough. There is also the question of whether the Norwegians would throw some of their tanks to the northeast in an emergency.

The Northern Regiment near Bardufoss is at least the only Norwegian Army regiment. As from one Military YouTube Video As can be seen, it consists of main battle tanks and almost 110 CV 90 infantry fighting vehicles. A regiment usually consists of 4,500 to 5,000 soldiers. In total, the ground forces were to consist of only about 7,800 soldiers. Characteristic: Loud Armed Forces websiteAs the Norwegian Armed Forces are called in the local language, the army is almost always stationed near the Norwegian-Russian border.

Norwegian Army: Northern Army to protect border with Russia

Thus the Northern Brigade consisted of an independent mechanized brigade with brigade command, two mechanized combat battalions (Tank Battalion and Telemark Battalion), a light tank combat battalion (2nd Battalion), an artillery battalion, an engineer battalion and a reconnaissance platoon. Additionally, the Finnmark Land Command (Borsanger Battalion) is responsible for border security. In February 2023, Oslo announced an order for 54 new Leopard 2 A8 NOR main battle tanks. However, these are still under construction at the German arms company Krauss-Maffei Wegmann in the Bavarian capital of Munich.

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as Build It had said it would provide a British aircraft carrier for a major upcoming NATO exercise. The close military relationship between the Royal Navy and the Norwegians since World War II, and Scotland's proximity across the North Sea, suggests that the aircraft carrier was intended to train for a possible defense of Norway. For if the Russians advanced beyond the Norwegian frontier in an emergency, they could position their forces behind Sweden and Finland. At least that's the theory around it Ukraine war. (evening)

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