No to the Arctic Challenge Exercise 2015

GUE/NGL MEPs Sabine Lösing and Malin Björk  voice their opposition to the Arctic Challenge Exercise 2015 military manoeuvres to take place from the end of this week.

From 22 May to 5 June 2015, the “Arctic Challenge Exercise 2015“ (ACE 2015) will take place in Sweden, Finland and Norway. With more than 4000 participants and over 100 fighter jets, it is one of the largest military exercises in the world. Besides the host countries, troops and jets from the United States, Great Britain, France and Germany as well as from Switzerland and the Netherlands will also be involved.

The goals of the manoeuvre are described by Jan Ove Rygg, the Norwegian ACE 2015 exercise director, as follows: “The aim is to exercise and train units in the orchestration and conduct of complex air operations, in close relations to NATO and Protection for Peace partners. The unique cross-border air space makes ACE 2015 a one of a kind training ground for increasing interoperability and skills in all parts of the chain.”

“This exercise has to be seen in the context of the increasing conflicts between Russia and the West where the Arctic has become an important battlefield. With the melting of the Polar caps due to climate change, large oil resources will potentially be up for grabs soon and important new trade routes are opening up. That is why a fierce competition for influence and an outright militarisation of the Arctic is taking place,” said German GUE/NGL MEP Sabine Lösing.

Swedish GUE/NGL MEP Malin Björk added: “Sweden is not a member of NATO and should not be made a practice ground for NATO. To locate ACE 2015 in Sweden is nothing but a step in taking us towards NATO membership. This exercise is also a step in the further militarisation of EU borders. In light of the present situation with Russia, it can also be seen as an escalation. We need to stop the sabre-rattling and put all our efforts to start peaceful talks or I fear we will fail in building real and lasting security in our part of the world.”