A SENIOR Russian diplomat has warned Norway it is now on the Kremlin’s list of potential nuclear targets after it granted the US permission to base 300 marines on its soil.
Cold War tensions between Moscow and Washington erupted last week after Washington revealed plans to station the elite commandos in Norway.
Frants Klintsevitsj, a deputy chairman of Russia’s defence and security committee, gave a furious response to the deployment.
In a chilling threat at the peace-loving Scandinavians, he warned: “This is very dangerous for Norway and Norwegians.”
He continued: “How should we react to this? We have never before had Norway on the list of targets for our strategic weapons. But if this develops, Norway’s population will suffer.
“We need to react against definitive military threats. And we have things to react to, I might as well tell it like it is.”
The plan could see around 300 American special forces deployed at the Vaernes base near Trondheim, which lies around 600 miles from the frontier with Russia.
Officials in Norway and the US said they were considering a deal for extra equipment and training for the Scandinavian country.
The US military said the deployment would “enhance the collective ability of our two forces to work together”.
Maxime Gourov, a spokesman for the Russian embassy in Oslo, responded to the announcement last Monday: “Taking into account multiple statements made by Norwegian officials about the absence of threat from Russia to Norway, we would like to understand why Norway is so much willing to increase its military potential, in particular through the stationing of American forces in Vaernes.”
Earlier this year the US revealed it was deploying equipment to Cold War-era caves in Norway.
The air-conditioned bunkers span much of central Norway and were used in the 1980s to store US equipment during the Cold War.
They are large enough to hold equipment for 15,00 marines and are routinely used as a base for training exercises run in partnership with the Norwegian and US militaries.
Norway has historically pledged not to accept a permanent contingent of foreign troops on its soil as long as it was not being directly threatened.
And the Oslo administration says the latest deployment should be treated as a temporary military exercise rather than an indefinite posting.
Russia issued similar warnings last year to Denmark over the prospect of it joining NATO’s missile defence system.
Russia’s ambassador to Denmark Mikhail Vanin said at the time: “I don’t think the Danes fully understand the consequences of what will happen if Denmark joins the American-controlled missile defence.
“If it happens, Danish war ships will become targets for Russian atomic missiles.”