NATO has expressed concern after three Russian vessels docked near a formerly secret Norwegian naval base. The old NATO base is located deep within the mountains of the Arctic. Olavsvern Naval Base was a top-secret Norwegian naval base until 2009 when the base was closed and put up for auction. A private party purchased the base and have since rented out the facility to Russian research companies. However, NATO members are concerned about the potential of Russian military presence on the research ships.
The AFP reports that three large research vessels have been docked at the previously vacant base for the entire winter. The former military base is located in the Arctic mountains on Norway’s Arctic coastline. The presence of Russian ships have left many feeling uneasy as tensions between NATO and Russia are at an all-time high. Many say that tensions between Russia and NATO haven’t been this high since the fall of the Soviet Union. Therefore, NATO would like to know exactly what Russia is doing in the hidden mountain base. However, Norway’s government says they have no plans to take any action. Instead, they note that the private owner of the property can do with the base as they see fit, including allowing Russian research vessel access.
“There are no plans to re-establish military installations in Olavsvern. The owner of the site can use it as he sees fit and the armed forces do not have the authority to impose restrictions, nor any mandate to monitor civilian ships that dock there. Any suspected irregular activity is a matter for the police and legal authorities.”
Many in Norway feel that the selling of Olavsvern Naval Base was the “biggest blunder in recent history.” A retired vice admiral Jan Reksten says that the Norwegian military needs a presence in the Arctic region and that selling Olavsvern was a “double loss.”
“Russia is a country where the state has a say over all commercial or semi-state business. It’s clear, very few people know what happens on these vessels. The sale of Olavsvern was a double loss as Norway’s armed forces lost an important base and now there are Russian vessels docked there.”
Though there are concerns over possibly military actions taking place in the icy Arctic region, UA Today notes that the likely motive behind the Russian presence in the former base is purely over potential oil reserves. In fact, Russia has been vocal about their desire to tap into the oil industry by planning extensive oil drilling in the Arctic region.
“The United States Geological Survey estimates the strategic Arctic is home to over 20 per cent of the world’s future energy reserves. Russia, Norway, Canada, Denmark and the U.S. have all made terroritorial claims at the United Nations over control of the polar region.”
What do you think about Russia’s presence in the Arctic mountain military base?
[Image Credit: Getty Images/ Sean Gallup]