The Steadfast Defender exercise in Germany, Poland, and the Baltics will involve some 41,000 troops, the outlet has reported
NATO is poised to hold early next year its largest military exercises since the Cold War era, the Financial Times reported on Monday. The drills will simulate a potential Russian invasion and is intended to increase the bloc’s readiness for such a scenario, according to the article.
Bearing the name Steadfast Defender, the exercises will involve around 41,000 troops, more than 50 ships, and between 500 and 700 combat air missions, according to the report. While the exercises are designed to simulate a clash with a fictional coalition named ‘Occasus,’ NATO officials told the FT that the maneuvers are “seen as a key part of demonstrating to Moscow that the alliance is prepared to fight.”
The exercises will take place in Germany, Poland, and the Baltic states in February and March 2024, and will involve not only the members of the US-led military bloc, but also Sweden, the report said. The Nordic nation applied to join NATO last year, but its application is still in limbo due to the reluctance of Türkiye and Hungary to ratify its bid owing to a number of grievances in bilateral relations.
The FT also reported that the drill is seen as part of a new training strategy according to which the alliance will hold two major war games a year instead of one. The exercise will also reportedly focus on counterterrorism efforts outside of the bloc’s borders.
In June 2022, in light of the Ukraine conflict, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced that the bloc would deploy 300,000 troops, describing the development as the “biggest overhaul of our collective defense and deterrence since the Cold War.”
Meanwhile, Russian officials have repeatedly said that they perceive NATO’s military build-up as a threat, warning that such moves will lead to increased tensions in the region, thus warranting additional security measures from Moscow. Russia has also repeatedly warned the bloc against further expansion closer to Russia’s borders. President Vladimir Putin has said that one of main reasons behind the Ukraine conflict was the risk that Kiev would join the alliance.
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