The Norwegian government has linked the tri-nation Northern Eagle 2012 military exercises, involving forces from Norway, the U.S. and Russia, as an example of relationship bridge-building and productive cooperation between the two powers.
The joint Russian-U.S.-Norwegian naval exercises, which are taking place in the Arctic waters of the Barents Sea, began on August 21 and are due to end on August 25. The final stage of the exercise, under Russian command, involved the U.S. Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class destroyer the USS Farragut, the Russian Northern Fleet’s destroyer the Admiral Chabaneko and the Norwegian coast guard vessel the KV Andenes.
Norwegian defense minister, Espen Barth Eide, said that defense in security in the High North could only benefit from closer cooperation between the U.S., NATO and Russia.
"A proactive national security and defense policy combined with a NATO alliance are important pillars. A strong and interest-based neighborhood cooperation with Russia is another. The deliberate focus on defense in the High North makes us better able to watch and observe changes, including those we least expect. We will maintain a security policy tailored to a changing world and one that enables us to develop relations with our important neighbor Russia," said Eide.
The Northern Eagle 2012 maneuvers covered a range of joint operations, including search and rescue, anti-piracy mock engagements, helicopter-centered inter-ship cargo transfers, and air defense drills using Russian Su-33 fighters and Il-38 anti-submarine warfare aircraft. Russian Ka-27 and U.S. Sea Hawk helicopters, in addition to Norwegian F-16 jet fighters and Orion surveillance planes, were also deployed in the exercises.
The exercises will conclude in the Northern Fleet’s main base of Severomorsk on August 25. The U.S. and other foreign vessels will stay in the Russian port until August 27.
Northern Eagle was held for the first time in 2004, initially as a bilateral naval exercise involving only the U.S. and Russia. The exercise was expanded to include Norway in 2008.