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Warning of Risks, Moscow Condemns US Marines Deployment Extension in Norway

Moscow has told Oslo that the extension of a US military deployment in the country will deteriorate diplomatic relations between the two neighbors.

The Norwegian defense minister said this week that the US Marine Corps' training on Norwegian soil would continue through 2018 — a year longer than it was initially planned.

"We are pleased to announce that… we are extending the USMC rotational presence for another year," Ine Eriksen Søreide said Wednesday.

The Russian Embassy in Norway on Saturday cautioned on its Facebook page that the move could escalate tensions and lead to the destabilization of the situation in the northern region.

"We consider that this step contradicts Norwegian policy of not deploying foreign military bases in the country in times of peace," the statement said, adding that the decision makes Norway not a fully predictable partner.

"We see it as an element of the US-led military preparations that have intensified against the background of the anti-Russian propagandist hysteria."

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Roughly 330 US Marines originally arrived in Norway in January 2017 for a six-month deployment. Based at Vaernes, about 900 miles (1,450 kilometers) from the Russian border, they've received basic training with Norwegian and other allied forces for operations in an arctic environment.

Although Norway claimed the deployment had nothing to do with the alleged "Russian threat," Moscow wasn't convinced. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova criticized the arrival, warning that "the relationship between Norway and Russia is put to a test."

Maj. Gen. Niel E. Nelson, head of US Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa, said in the Department of Defense press release that the Marines in Norway are demonstrating a high level of cooperation with allies.

"The more we train together alongside one another the stronger our Alliance becomes."

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