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    Massive Military Drills Near Russian Border Not Provocation - Armed Forces

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    For the past 10 days, Norway has conducted its largest military exercise in decades in the northern Finnmark region. Norway suspended all its military cooperation with Moscow in March 2014.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Norway's massive military exercise near the Russian border has nothing to do with current tensions between the two countries, a spokesman for the Norwegian Armed Forces told Sputnik on Wednesday, as the drill comes to an end.

    For the past 10 days, Norway has conducted its largest military exercise in decades in the northern Finnmark region. Some 5,000 personnel have participated in the drill, dubbed Joint Viking.

    "The decision to practice in Finnmark was taken in autumn 2013, long before the security situation changed," Lieutenant Colonel Ivar Moen said.

    The lieutenant noted that all member states of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), including Russia, were notified of the Joint Viking drill in accordance with the Vienna Document.

    OSCE states were also given details of the size and location of the exercise, he said.

    Discussing the decision to hold military drills in the North, just miles from the Russian border, Moen explained that "it is important that when the Norwegian military exercise in Norway, we exercise throughout Norway."

    "We were outside Bergen in 2013, in inner Troms in 2014, we are in Finnmark in 2015, and next year we will be in Trondelag," he said.

    Norway's military have been involved in international operations, including in Afghanistan, in recent years, and the time had come to focus on national operations once again, Moen told Sputnik.

    During the drills, Norwegian forces trained to rapidly move across great distances and work in the country's climatically challenging northern areas. While the weather has been demanding, Joint Viking was overall a "very exciting and good exercise," Moen concluded.

    NATO member Norway suspended all its military cooperation with Moscow in March 2014 following Crimea's reunification with Russia.

    Though not a member of the European Union, Norway, being closely integrated with the bloc, supported its sanctions against Russia over the Ukrainian crisis, prompting Moscow to respond with a one-year ban on certain food imports from the country.

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    military drills, Joint Viking, OSCE, Finnmark, Norway, Russia
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