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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Troops in Norway Draw Criticism

OSLO -- A handful of U.S. Navy commandos training in northern Norway near Russia's border have provoked complaints from Moscow about NATO getting too close, news reports said Thursday.

The 17 U.S. Navy Seals were near Alta, a small town about 250 kilometers from the border. They were among the first soldiers from the alliance allowed in an area long closed to NATO to avoid provoking Russia.

"I find it a little difficult to see how 17 Americans can be considered a NATO exercise," said Colonel Erik Ianke of the Norwegian Supreme Defense Command. "This is a purely bilateral Norwegian-American exercise. It has nothing to do with NATO," he said by telephone.

Norway, the only NATO member that shares a land border with Russia, lifted voluntary limits on exercises near the border in October.

Some Russian officials have repeatedly criticized the decision as inappropriate because Norway and Russia were striving for peaceful cross-border cooperation.