The signing of the Norway-US revised Supplementary Defence Cooperation Agreement (SDCA) has sparked harsh criticism from Russia’s foreign ministry, accusing Oslo of “aggravating tensions in the Euro-Arctic region, and destroying Russian-Norwegian relations”.

Oslo denies claims of escalating tensions and says the agreement does not mean a change in Norway’s base politics.

The defence cooperation agreement allows the US to build facilities at three Norwegian airfields and one naval base and have unrestricted access to these facilities and areas. All activity must still be in accordance with relevant laws and respect the sovereignty of Norway.

Moscow reacted quickly, with Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova telling press that it was “yet another proof that Oslo is gradually abandoning the policy of self-imposed restraints”. According to her, such activities show “Oslo’s deliberate and destructive line towards aggravating tensions in the Euro-Arctic region, and destroying Russian-Norwegian relations.”

In a Barents Observer interview, Norwegian Defence Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen tried to calm tensions, saying the agreement is not intended to escalate tensions with Russia and that the US respects Norway’s policy of not allowing foreign military bases. According to him, this is yet more proof of growing international interest in the Arctic region.