NATO Launches Major Baltic Military Exercises: A Clear Message Sent

14 NATO member countries, including powerhouses like the United States and Germany, have commenced extensive naval exercises in the Baltic Sea

by Faruk Imamovic
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NATO Launches Major Baltic Military Exercises: A Clear Message Sent
© Getty Images News/Sean Gallup

14 NATO member countries, including powerhouses like the United States and Germany, have commenced extensive naval exercises in the Baltic Sea. These operations, named "Northern Coasts 23", come in the wake of Russia's intensified aggression towards Ukraine.

These exercises underline the alliance's commitment to safeguarding every inch of its territory.

A Shift from Past Exercises

The Baltic Sea exercise showcases the deployment of around 30 ships and submarines, 19 aircraft, and various land units.

According to the German Navy, more than 3,200 soldiers will participate. What's notable is the shift in the focus of these maneuvers. Fleet Admiral Stephan Haisch elaborated, "For the first time since the beginning of those maneuvers in 2007, [soldiers will train] according to a realistic scenario within the framework of NATO defense." In the past, these exercises were more geared towards combating piracy, terrorism, smuggling, and facilitating participation in international missions.

As NATO spokesman Dylan White highlighted, "The Russian aggression against Ukraine has radically changed the security situation in the Baltics. Exercises of this type send a clear message. NATO is ready to defend every inch of allied territory."

Strategic Locations and Participating Nations

Spanning until September 23, these drills will primarily occupy the waters surrounding Estonia and Latvia.

This includes their corresponding land and airspace, as well as the eastern and central parts of the Baltic Sea. The geographical choices are symbolic: both Estonia and Latvia, former Soviet Union territories, share borders with Russia.

Initiated by Germany in 2007, the "Northern Coasts" exercises have grown in magnitude and participation. This year, a consortium of nations including Germany, the USA, France, Italy, Finland, Estonia, Denmark, Canada, Belgium, Lithuania, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, and Sweden have joined forces.

Balancing Strength with Caution While the Baltic Sea has seen its share of military exercises, with Russia conducting its own drills as recently as August, NATO is treading carefully. The "Northern Coasts 23" operations will consciously steer clear of Kaliningrad, the Russian territory nestled between Poland and Lithuania. This decision, as per the German Navy, aims to prevent any unintended provocations.

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