Russia will carry out a three-day missile-firing exercise off the coast of Lofoten in Northern Norway starting today. The Norwegian army was alerted to Russia’s plan as a “danger area” of 791 nautical miles was requested through the A Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) aviation alert system earlier this week. Last time the Russians held similar military activities near the Scandinavian country’s coast was in October and November last year.
Back then, Russian military alerted the same NOTAM system to say they would hold the exercise on the same days as NATO’s Trident Juncture, where 51,000 participants attended.
Last year’s testing was viewed as a “serious” concern because of the rising tension between NATO and Russia.
The NATO-led Trident Juncture military exercise was the largest of its kind in Norway since the 1980s.
The Russian military tests taking place today are placed in international airspace and waters, meaning there is little anyone can do to stop it.
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But some experts have notice the location for the exercise is being held suspiciously close to the Norwegian coast.
Professor at the Norwegian Naval Academy Ståle Ulriksen said that while its normal that Russia often test missiles, it’s usually done further away from the coast.
He said: “They have the whole Barents Sea to use as an exercise area, and then they choose to do it right outside Lofoten.
“It is a clear signal to Norway that they do what they want. This is not a friendly act and to declare the testing is just offensive.”
The professor also added Russia carries a huge responsibility when planning these kind of exercises.
He told Norwegian paper VG: “When deciding on an exercise area, they have a responsibility not to hit the marine traffic where they practice.”
Another expert, Professor Katarzyna Zysk, at the Insitute for the Norwegian Army’s defence studies, said the Russians are well placed within the law.
She told VG: “What’s most important is that all parties comply with existing international obligations and verifiable trust and security measures to maintain a low voltage level.
“Russian exercise activity has increased sharply in recent decades.”
According to Prof Zysk, Russia has carried out a number of unannounced military exercises and training in recent years.
She added: “It’s problematic because it goes directly against the goal of increasing military transparency, reducing surprise moments, and risking miscalculation and misunderstanding, especially in a tense political situation.”