NATO to hold largest exercise since Cold War on eastern flank

NATO troops in Warsaw.

The Financial Times reports that NATO will hold the greatest exercise since the Cold War on its eastern flank next year, aimed at practicing countering a Russian attack.

NATO officials said that the exercise Steadfast Defender will start next spring and involve around 50 ships and 41,000 troops. NATO will be relying on real world geographical data to create more realistic scenarios for troops.

The drill will take place across Germany, Poland and the Baltics in February and March and forms part of a new training strategy that will see the military alliance carry out two big exercises every year, instead of one. NATO will also train to counter terrorist threats outside its immediate borders.

Jens Stoltenberg, Nato's secretary-general, said in June last year that the alliance would increase its number of high-readiness forces from 40,000 to "well over 300,000." NATO members agreed on new regional defense plans at the recent Vilnius summit.

Baltic countries have been particularly vocal in calling for NATO to bolster its eastern flank as troops have built up on the Belarusian border. Russia's president Vladimir Putin said nuclear weapons would be moved into Belarus in early July, although their presence is unconfirmed.

Exercises are also seen as a key part of demonstrating to Moscow that the alliance is prepared to fight, Nato officials said.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

Source: Financal Times

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