"The activities by Russia and China illustrate the importance for EUCOM to come together with our allies and partners to maintain a credible Arctic deterrence and ensure vital sea lines of communication remain open by securing the Greenland, Iceland and United Kingdom gap."
This comment was made by Air Force General Tod D. Wolters, Commander of the U.S. European Command, on Wednesday when speaking at the Air Force Association's Aerospace Warfare Symposium.
Wolters mentioned that facilitating sustainable economic development, fostering cooperation and ensuring a stable, conflict-free Arctic region enhances interoperability and proficiency, while also showing a collective resolve to uphold a rule-based order.
The EUCOM commander added that Russia and China nevertheless continue militarizing the region and seek "to establish economic footholds to gain influence over regional governance."
Deployment in Norway
"We're in an era of global-power competition. Winning in this era is ensuring that global power competition does not become a global power war," Walters said.
He emphasized that US air forces in Europe play a critical role in showing "collective resolve and readiness to deter our adversaries and sustain peace."
Four US Air Force B-1 bombers and approximately 200 personnel from Dyess Air Force in Texas are currently deployed at Ørland Air Base in Norway to exercise together with Norwegian forces. This is the first time such aircrafts are stationed on Norwegian ground.
General Wolters said the Air Force bombers are strengthening the enduring partnership between the U.S. and Norway, and that the missions show U.S. commitment to its allies and partners and the credibility of the air forces to address a more uncertain global security environment.
"Norway's defense is completely dependent on support from allies in the event of a crisis or war. Therefore, this training together with the US Air Force (USAF) will provide good conditions for Allied reception and cooperation also in the future," the Norwegian Armed Forces have stated in a press release.
Russia monitoring the situation
In a statement on the Facebook page of the Russian Embassy, the embassy iterates:
"The activation of foreign military presence in Norway and in the North, including the sending of strategic bombers "B-1 Lancers ", does not generally contribute to stability. We will continue to monitor the situation and implement measures to defend the security of our country and the region."