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Norway cancels NATO’s Arctic Cold Response exercises over coronavirus threat

Norway cancels NATO’s Arctic Cold Response exercises over coronavirus threat
Norway has called off the NATO winter exercises amid growing fears over the spread of coronavirus, according to the Norwegian military.

Cold Response 2020 was slated to take place from March 2-18, but Norway is pulling the plug on the multi-nation drills over concerns that the exercises could exacerbate the global coronavirus epidemic.

Last week, the Norwegian military quarantined 1,300 personnel on a base in the northern part of the country after a soldier tested positive for the virus.

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While thousands of NATO troops have been spared several days of frigid temperatures, the drills signal growing tensions in the Arctic, as the self-described defensive alliance increasingly eyes the wintry North for its own strategic purposes.

The trans-Atlantic alliance has struggled to defend against the new coronavirus. On Tuesday, Poland’s military announced that its chief of the general staff had come down with the virus after returning from a NATO meeting in Germany. Ironically, the senior commander and his NATO colleagues reportedly discussed how to prevent the spread of coronavirus during the summit.

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NATO is still moving forward with the upcoming Defender-Europe drills, but there are already murmurs that the exercises might have to be scaled back due to coronavirus. Last week, US European Command shut down air defense drills in Israel over fears of the virus. The move coincided with a decision by US Africa Command to downsize one if its largest drills, African Lion, in Morocco.

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