Over the weekend more than 75 fighter jets including bombers and refueling aircraft with over 45 NATO warships and around 7,000 troops have amassed in the Baltic’s close to the Russian border.
NATO are staging exercises called Baltops which has 14 Alliance states in the Nordics and will train alongside Finland and Sweden to test their ability to work together.
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Exercise Baltops will last all week which will involve amphibious landing exercises along the Swedish and German coastlines and the USS Kearsarge warship will also be taking part.
The countries which are taking part in the exercises are, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Poland, Norway and the UK.
NATO said in a statement, “Fourteen NATO allies, two NATO partner nations, over 45 ships, more than 75 aircraft, and approximately 7,000 personnel will participate in the 51st iteration of the premier maritime-focused exercise from June 5-17.”
Sweden and Finland have submitted applications to join NATO and with NATO close to the Russian border this will send a clear message to Vladimir Putin who will undoubtedly be keeping a close eye on the exercise Baltops.
Speaking alongside General Milley on Saturday, Sweden’s Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist said he could see “a future here with a lot of activities that makes our part of Europe more secure … during this sensitive time from now until we are full members of NATO.”
He added, “We will have naval vessels in the Baltic Sea over the coming months and also we will have an air force presence in our airspace.”
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said the arrival of the US warship, the USS Kearsarge, demonstrates that US President Joe Biden is honouring commitments.
Last month Andersson and the Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, the two Nordic leaders visited the Washington where President Biden made commitments to both Nordic countries
She said, “This shows President Biden’s security assurances are followed by actions.”
The Kremlin along with Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov calling Sweden and Finland’s moves to join NATO as “another serious mistake with far-reaching consequences.”
He warned, “The general level of military tension will increase, and there will be less predictability in this area.”