At a time when Russia is occupying Ukraine, NATO has announced that Baltops 22, one of the largest military exercises in the Baltic Sea region, will begin in June.
The annual exercise has a special significance due to the Ukrainian war.
US Department of Defense Spokesman John Kirby said in a statement about ‘Baltops 22’ that 14 NATO countries such as Germany and Turkey, as well as Sweden and Finland, will also participate in the naval exercise.
The spokesman also said that the exercise, which will be held on June 5-17, will be hosted by Sweden, which has applied for NATO membership.
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‘Baltops 22’, which has been held in the Baltic Sea region since 1972, will have 45 warships, 75 aircraft and about 7,000 soldiers. Kirby said the manoeuvres “offer a unique training opportunity to strengthen the joint response that is critical to security” in the Baltic Sea.
The exercise will include amphibious operations, combat against submarines, air defense, mine clearance, destruction of explosive ordnance and diving and rescue operations.
The manoeuvres are also seen as a “unique training opportunity” to strengthen the combined response capability critical to maintaining freedom of navigation and security in the Baltic Sea region.
Soldiers from Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Turkey, Great Britain and the United States will take part in the maneuvers.
In March and April, NATO held a military exercise called “Cold Response 2022” in Norway with the participation of about 30,000 soldiers and hundreds of aircraft and ships.
Military maneuvers are attended by NATO allies from Europe and North America, as well as soldiers from Sweden and Finland.
The NATO exercise was reportedly regular military activities planned long before Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said: “The exercises ensure that there is no room for any miscalculations or misunderstandings of our commitment to protecting and defending every square centimeter of Allied territory. NATO exercises are defence-oriented, transparent and in line with our international commitments.”