Britain opens new military base in far northern Norway

Norway refuses to host permanent foreign bases so Camp Viking will be open for only a decade

British Royal Marines Commandos. PA
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A UK military base has opened in the far north of Norway to strengthen Nato's capabilities in the Arctic after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Named Camp Viking, the newly established Norwegian site will serve as a centre for Royal Marines Commandos, Britain's Royal Navy said.

The Navy said the troops were "the tip of the Arctic spear" and "the unit the UK turns to when it needs troops able to fight in cold weather extremes".

"A new Arctic operations base will support Britain's commandos for the next 10 years as the UK underscores its commitment to security in the high north," it said.

Norway, which borders Russia, refuses to host permanent bases for foreign soldiers, hence the time limit for Camp Viking.

The base, about 65km south of Tromso, will be able to accommodate all personnel from the elite, commando-led Royal Marines force, which reacts to emerging crises in Europe.

"The camp's location is ideal for deterring threats in the region and situated so the UK can respond rapidly if needed to protect Nato's northern flank and its close ally, Norway," the Navy said.

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About 1,000 commandos have been sent to the base this winter.

Norway's Defence Ministry said the base had previously been used by Nato allies and then Dutch Marines, AFP reported.

"The camp is Norwegian and financed through Norwegian infrastructure and operational funds," a ministry spokeswoman said.

A founding member of Nato, Norway regularly hosts allied troops for combat training in extreme cold.

The country, which shares a 198km border with Russia, has provided Ukraine with a wide range of military equipment, including artillery and ammunition.

The Ukraine conflict prompted its eastern neighbours Finland and Sweden to apply for Nato membership in May 2022, ending decades-long policies of military non-alignment.

Updated: March 08, 2023, 10:08 PM