More escalation has begun as NATO starts military drills near the Russian border. The large-scale NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) military drills started in Estonia on Monday.
This is going to be seen as an escalation, if not provocation, by the Russian ruling class. The exercise, dubbed “Hedgehog 2022”, is one of the largest in the Baltic nation’s history, according to the military bloc. The drills will involve some 15,000 troops from 14 nations, including both military bloc members and their partners.
According to a report by RT, soldiers from Finland, Sweden, Georgia, and Ukraine are among those that will take part in the exercise, Finnish public broadcaster Yle reported. The drills will include all branches of the armed forces and will involve air, sea, and land exercises, as well as cyber warfare training, according to the broadcaster.
According to a NATO statement, the drills will also see the US Navy Wasp-class landing ship ‘Kearsarge’ take part in the exercises. Both the military bloc and Estonian Defense Forces deputy commander, Major General Veiko-Vello Palm, have denied that the drills just over 60km from the Russian border have anything to do with Moscow’s ongoing military action in Ukraine. –RT
These drills are taking place as both Sweden and Finland have made their determination to join NATO clear. Russia has already vowed to “respond” to the expansion of NATO.
This is certainly going to escalate tensions in the region.
The exercises in Estonia are, however, just one part of NATO’s large-scale military activities near the Russian border. Another Baltic state, Lithuania, is hosting the ‘Iron Wolf’ exercise, which involves 3,000 NATO troops and 1,000 pieces of military equipment, including Germany’s Leopard 2 tanks.
Two of NATO’s biggest exercises – ‘Defender Europe’ and ‘Swift Response’ – are taking place in Poland and eight other countries, involving 18,000 troops from 20 nations, according to NATO’s statement on Friday.-RT
“Exercises like these show that NATO stands strong and ready to protect our nations and defend against any threat,” the military bloc’s spokesperson, Oana Lungescu, said, adding that the drills “help to remove any room for miscalculation or misunderstanding about our resolve to protect and defend every inch of allied territory.”
Russia continues to assert that NATO’s expansion is a direct threat to their security. A response is likely, and we will monitor this closely as tensions continue to rise.