Wednesday, October 31, 2018

NATO Says Russian Missile Test Not to Change Its Massive Exercise Plans
2018/10/31 12:07:30

NATO said Tuesday the alliance will not change its plans for its biggest military exercise since the end of the Cold War in Norway after Russia announced to test missiles later this week in nearby international waters.

"We were notified last week about the planned Russian missile test outside the coast here," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told a press conference before an exercise demonstration at a waterfront site near Trondheim in central Norway.

"I expect Russia to behave in a professional way and it will not change the plans of our exercise," he said.

According to Norway's local media reports, the country's civil airport operator Avinor has been informed by Russian aviation authorities of the missile test that will take place on Nov. 1-3.

The NATO chief noted that Russia has significant naval forces in this area and is regularly exercising its maritime capabilities off the coast of Norway.

"We will of course monitor closely what Russia does, but they operate in international waters and they have notified us in the normal way," Stoltenberg said.

Tuesday's hour-long joint demonstration with various military scenarios was a show of forces for NATO dignitaries, foreign observers and the international press.

It was part of the Trident Juncture 2018 exercise that involves around 50,000 participants from all 29 NATO member nations and its partners Sweden and Finland, with about 250 aircraft, 65 vessels and up to 10,000 vehicles.

Russia has said the NATO drills in Northern Europe, which started on Oct. 25 and run through Nov.7, are obviously anti-Russian and they lead to deterioration of military and political situation in the region, according to Russia's Sputnik news agency.

"It is obvious that this fighting capabilities demonstration has a distinct anti-Russian character," the Russian Foreign Ministry's Information and Press Department was quoted as saying in a statement on Thursday.

"It has a negative effect on the security of all the neighboring countries," it said.

Russia has also complained that the levels of military activities conducted by NATO near Russian borders have been higher than ever since the Cold War.

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