Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

NATO prepares to ; launch its largest military exercise since the Cold War

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A Canadian soldier wears a NATO patch at a military base in Adazi, Latvia, in July 2023.

Agence France -Press

Some 90,000 NATO soldiers will participate for several months starting next week in the largest military exercise organized by the Atlantic Alliance since the Cold War, against the backdrop of the conflict in Ukraine.

This will be a clear demonstration of our unity, our strength and our determination to protect each other, the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe said Thursday (Saceur), American General Christopher Cavoli, during a press conference in Brussels, where NATO is headquartered.

These maneuvers will extend over several months and will take the form of a conflict scenario against an adversary of comparable size, according to the terminology of the Alliance, which designates without naming Russia, whose x27;large-scale offensive in Ukraine began almost two years ago.

They will notably include the reinforcement on the European continent of troops from #x27;North America, General Cavoli said.

Some 50 warships, 80 aircraft and 1,100 combat vehicles will take part in this war game, the largest since Exercise Reforger in 1988, in full Cold War between the Soviet Union and the Atlantic Alliance.

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This is a record for this which is the number of soldiers, underlined during this same press conference Dutch Admiral Rob Bauer, the head of the NATO military committee, which brings together the chiefs of staff of the armies of the 31 member countries of the organization.

The United Kingdom alone will deploy 20,000 soldiers as part of these maneuvers, its Defense Minister Grant Shapps announced on Monday.

This deployment, which he called the largest in 40 years for British forces in NATO, aims to respond to the threat posed by President Vladimir Putin's Russia since the invasion of #x27;Ukraine.

Units from the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and Army will be sent across Europe and beyond for the exercise, dubbed Steadfast Defender, London said. /p>

Grant Shapps said NATO faced greater challenges than ever from Russia, China, Iran and North Korea, warning that NATO's adversaries x27;Alliance were more connected to each other than ever.

In Ukraine, Russian ground troops suffered serious damage, admiral said Dutchman Rob Bauer, noting, however, that the Russian navy and air force remained considerable forces.

Intense fighting is still taking place, but although the Russian attacks are devastating, they are not significant from a military point of view, he said.

Last year the world may have been a little too optimistic and so it is important that in 2024 we are not too pessimistic, said this top responsible for the Alliance.

The front line between the Russian and Ukrainian armies has barely moved in recent months and Kiev is insistently demanding additional weapons and ammunition if it hopes to achieve a significant military breakthrough.

Ukraine is particularly demanding more anti-aircraft defense means, at a time when its infrastructure and cities are being shelled every day.

But American military aid of more than 60 billion dollars is still blocked in Congress due to reluctance by Republican elected officials, and a European financial contribution over four years of 50 billion euros suffers the same fate due to a veto from Hungary. A solution could nevertheless be found at the summit of 27 on February 1 in Brussels.

Since the start of the Russian assault in Ukraine in February 2022, the Atlantic Alliance strengthened its defenses on the eastern flank, sending thousands of men there.

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