NATO teases massive Arctic drill

The exercise Cold Response 2022 is headed by aircraft carrier USS Harry. S Truman and involves 35,000 troops

NATO allies and partners will soon hold massive war games in the European Arctic involving the US Navy’s Carrier Strike Group 8, the country’s mission to the military bloc has said. The reminder comes amid tensions with Russia over NATO’s enlargement on the continent, which Moscow considers a threat to its national security.

The Cold Response is scheduled to launch in March and will bring together “35,000 soldiers from 28 nations,” the American mission tweeted on Wednesday.

The largest @NATO exercise inside the Arctic Circle, Cold Response is planned for the beginning of March.

35,000 soldiers from 28 nations will participate. U.S. aircraft carrier “USS Harry S Truman” will also be part of the exercise. pic.twitter.com/qieTmM1mJ7

— US Mission to NATO (@USNATO) January 19, 2022

Cold Response is a series of Norway-led NATO drills held every two years since 2006. The previous one scheduled for March 2020 was intended to be relatively small-scale and was canceled at the last minute due to Covid-19 risks.

The drill set to be held in Norway this year pales in comparison with the Trident Juncture 2018 maneuvers, which were the largest in the country since the Cold War era. The latter was held under joint NATO command and not directed by the host nation, so Cold Response 2022 is set to be the largest Norway-led exercise in decades. It was initially expected to have an even bigger scale, with up to 45,000 troops participating, but the plans changed due to natural reasons, including the pandemic situation, local media reported.

Spokesperson at the Norwegian Joint Operations Headquarters Preben Aursand said that the majority of allied forces taking part in the drill will come from the US and the UK. The US Navy is sending the aircraft carrier strike group flagged by the USS Harry. S Truman. The British Royal Navy is deploying the HMS Prince of Wales, its newest aircraft carrier. The drill is set to happen in late March and early April, mostly in the northern parts of the country, the Norwegian official said.

The upcoming exercise will take place at a time of high tension between NATO and Russia, which considers its expansion in Europe as a threat to its national security. 

The Russian military said last week that it had been formally notified by Norway about the plans to host the NATO drill under the transparency rules of the Vienna Document. Moscow thanked Norway and wished it safe maneuvers. Russia and Norway are neighbors, though their joint land border is located far in the north and is just over 190km long.

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