Helicopter and a vessel in the Arctic ocean (Photo: GettyImages)Norway and Russia are strengthening their cooperation in the Arctic. The two states already have an extensive cooperation, but are strengthening with military relations and multi-branch exercises with common strategic and environment-based programs.

The countries recently held talks about the strengthening of political and military operations. Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov and Norwegian Defense Minister Espen Barth Eide with Roger Ingebrigtsen, state secretary for defense, attended the meetings.

Both countries are reorganizing their naval, air and land forces in the strategic High North. Both countries are planning Arctic brigades, Russia in the Kola Peninsula and Norway in Skjold, in the High North's Troms county. The countries also discussed NATO's missile defense plan for Europe, which Russia is robustly opposed to.

"Our relations with Russia have never been better than they are now," Ingebrigtsen said. "We want to deepen the good relationship that we have even further. Among other things, we would like to hold more joint training exercises, both on land and at sea, probably in 2013."

The strengthened relationship, Antonov said, is reflected in the fact that the two militaries will participate in 24 joint exercises and events over the next 12 months. "The goal for both sides is increased security in the High North, which can only benefit our countries," Antonov said.

The annual naval exercise POMOR-2012, which takes place in May, will be the next major demonstration of stronger bilateral military collaboration between Norway and Russia. The exercise will involve Norwegian and Russian naval and air assets, including frigates, destroyers, helicopter support and combat aircraft.

The range of joint tasks will include boarding operations, search and rescue, air defense, navigation and interoperability of communication procedures and systems.

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