Washington, June 13 (IANS) The Norwegian government has approved 400 additional US Marines to be posted in the country amid rising tensions with Russia, the media reported.
Currently there are 300 US Marines in Norway for a rotational presence for training and exercise. The additional Marines would increase the number of US Marines to 700 for a period of up to five years, reports CNN.
The 300 Marines were sent to Vaernes in January 2017 amid the increasing tensions with Russia following the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
The new contingent of US Marines will be located at Setermoen in Troms, according to the Norwegian Defence Ministry.
Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon on Tuesday said the Department of Defence welcomed the Norwegian announcement, saying the rotational training allows US Marines to "take part in world-class winter and mountain warfare training", which he said would "strengthen the US military's bond with the Norwegian military, and build readiness to respond in times of crisis".
"We are grateful to our Norwegian hosts for allowing us to use Vaernes as a rotational training facility," CNN quoted Pahon as saying.
Norway shares a 122-mile border with Russia and the new location at Setermoen will bring US Marines about 250 miles from that border.
Russian officials have previously protested Norway's decision to host US Marines.
The US military also uses facilities within Norwegian underground caves to "pre-position" tanks and other heavy weaponry that could be used in the event of a crisis between NATO and Russia.