Thousands of soldiers from 14 countries NATO and partners are participating in the largest military exercises in history in Estonia, close to the Russian border.
RT reports, calls exercise NATO’s large scale began in Estonia from May 16. According to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the exercise “Hedgehog 2022” is one of the largest exercises in the history of the Baltic state. The exercises will involve about 15,000 troops from 14 countries, including NATO members and partner countries.
Soldiers from Finland, Sweden, Georgia and Ukraine was among the forces taking part in the exercise, Finnish television station Yle reported. The exercises will cover all branches of the armed forces and will include air, sea and land exercises, as well as cyber warfare training.
According to a NATO statement, the exercise also involved the Navy’s Wasp-class amphibious ship “Kearsarge”. America. Both NATO and the Deputy Commander of the Estonian Self-Defense Forces, Major General Veiko-Vello Palm, denied that the drills more than 60km from the Russian border were unrelated to Russia’s ongoing military campaign in Ukraine.
The drills started just one day after Finland and Sweden officially announced its intention to join NATO, which was planned long before the conflict in Ukraine broke out, according to Western officials.
However, the exercises in Estonia are only one part of large-scale NATO military operations near the Russian border. Another Baltic country, Lithuania, is hosting the “Iron Wolf” exercise, which involves 3,000 NATO troops and 1,000 pieces of military equipment, including the German Leopard 2 tank.
Two of NATO’s largest exercises – “Defender Europe” and “Swift Response” – are taking place in Poland and eight other countries, with participation from of 18,000 troops from 20 countries.
“Exercise like this shows that NATO stands strong, ready to defend our nations and counter any threat,” said NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu, adding that The exercises “help eliminate any miscalculation or misunderstanding of NATO’s determination to defend and defend every inch of the Allied land”.
The NATO Response Force is participating in the “Wettiner Heide” exercise in Germany with 7,500 troops. The Mediterranean Sea is about to witness the “Neptune series” naval exercises with the participation of the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier strike group placed under NATO command. This will only be the second time since the end of the Cold War that a battle group American aircraft carrier transferred under the command of the military bloc NATO.
In June, the Baltic states and Poland will hold what NATO describes as “Europe’s largest integrated air and missile defense exercise”, involving 23 countries.
At the end of April, Finland hosted NATO naval exercises. Now, the country is also holding a joint land-based exercise, in which troops from the US, UK, Estonia and Latvia are taking part.
Major military exercises are taking place amid rising tensions between Russia, NATO and some of the military bloc’s partners. Finland, which shares a long border with Russia, and Sweden have decided to reconsider their longstanding policy of neutrality after Russia launched a military campaign in Ukraine.
This development has sparked a wave of criticism from Moscow. Russia warned of retaliation if Finland and Sweden joined NATO. Moscow also claims to consider NATO expansion a direct threat to Russia’s security.