A Socialist Left Party representative has slammed the upcoming arrival of the giant USS Harry S. Truman, which has space for more combat aircraft on board than the entire Norwegian Air Force, as "unfortunate" in relation to Russia, NRK reported.
This is the first time since 1989 that a US aircraft carrier is visiting Norway. Aircraft carrier groups are considered some of the most powerful tools in the US arsenal, and its mere presence is considered a strong military signal. The ship has two nuclear reactors aboard and is usually followed by submarines equipped with tactical nuclear weapons.
Lars Haltbrekken of the Socialist Left Party (SV), the former head of the Norwegian Conservation Association, blasted the arrival of the giant nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, whose motto is "Give ‘em hell," as "unwise," as it would further compromise Norway's relations with Russia.
"It's especially unwise in relation to Russia," Lars Haltbrekken told NRK. "But allowing a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to sail along the Norwegian coast right now, just before the start of the exercise is also unfortunate. We require the Ministry of Defense to account for the safety assessments they have made in this case," he added.
Norwegian defense sources described the purpose of the USS Harry S. Truman showing up at the drill as "projecting military strength in the High North."
"The intention is to say 'here we are.' The US has long been away from the North Atlantic. With this, they signal that they are back," an anonymous defense source told NRK.
At the same time, the source also admitted that the presence of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is likely to provoke Russia.
"We must be prepared for a Russian response. Probably they will sail out to sniff out a little. There may also be Russian aviation movements we have to deal with," the source ventured.
According to NRK, the ship has left the UK and is likely to operate as far north as the city of Tromsø, but is unlikely to reach the coast of Finnmark County, which borders Russia's Murmansk Oblast.
The NATO drill Trident Juncture featuring 40,000 soldiers from 30 countries is the largest military exercise conducted in Norway since the end of the Cold War. While most other contributions to the drill were announced two years ago, the aircraft carrier's participation will be formally announced just days before it comes to the Norwegian coast, NRK reported.