NATO will next week launch its biggest military exercise in decades, involving some 90,000 troops, which will last for months and aim to show that the alliance can defend all its territory right up to its border with Russia, senior officials said Thursday.
The exercises come as Russia’s war against Ukraine stalls. NATO as an organization is not directly involved in the conflict except to provide Kiev with non-lethal support, although many member countries send weapons and ammunition individually or in groups and provide military training.
In the months before President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops into Ukraine in February 2022, NATO began bolstering security on its eastern flank in the largest buildup since the Cold War. The war games are meant to prevent Russia from attacking a member country.
The exercises, called Steadfast Defender 24, “will demonstrate that NATO can carry out and sustain complex multi-domain operations for several months, over thousands of kilometers (miles), from the High North to Central and Eastern Europe and elsewhere. explained the 31-nation organization.
The troops will move into and through Europe until the end of May in what NATO describes as “a simulated emerging conflict scenario with a near-peer enemy.” According to NATO’s new defense plans, its main adversaries are Russia and terrorist organizations.
“The alliance will demonstrate its ability to strengthen the Euro-Atlantic area through the transatlantic movement of forces from North America,” NATO Supreme Allied Commander US General Christopher Cavoli told reporters.
Cavoli added that it will show “our unity, our strength, and our determination to protect each other.”
The Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer, said that this is “a record number of troops that we can mobilize and conduct an exercise of this size across the alliance, across the oceans, from the United States.” to Europe.”
Bauer described it as “a big change” compared to the number of troops who exercised just a year ago. Sweden, which is expected to join NATO this year, will also participate.
UK Defense Secretary Grant Shapps said the government in London would send 20,000 troops backed by advanced fighter jets, surveillance aircraft, warships, and submarines, most of whom would be deployed in eastern Europe from February to June.