NATO begins major training exercise in Baltic Sea
A vast naval military exercise involving 14 NATO countries, including Belgium, began on Saturday in the Baltic Sea, against the backdrop of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
About 30 ships and submarines, 19 aircraft and various land units are involved in the Northern Coasts 23 exercise under German command, the German navy said in a statement. More than 3,200 soldiers will be training “in a realistic scenario within the framework of NATO’s defence for the first time since these manoeuvres began in 2007”, Admiral Stephan Haisch said.
In previous years, they were mainly preparing to ward off attacks by terrorists, traffickers and piracy, or to take part in international missions.
The operation, which is due to last until 23 September, will take place in the coastal waters of Estonia and Latvia, including associated land and airspace, as well as eastern and central parts of the Baltic Sea. The two former Soviet countries, now members of NATO, border Russia.
This is the first time the German navy has planned and led manoeuvres of this magnitude. The aim is to optimise cooperation between naval, land and air forces.
The Northern Coasts exercises were launched in 2007 and command rotates between Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. This year, the exercise also involves Belgium, the US, France, Italy, Estonia, Canada, Lithuania, Latvia, the Netherlands and Poland.
Manoeuvres will not take place near Kaliningrad, the small landlocked Russian enclave in the EU, to avoid provocation, according to the German navy.
Russia regularly conducts its own military exercises in the Baltic, as it did recently in August.
A US Navy warship en route to the Northern Coast exercise sails through the Baltic Sea © PHOTO IMAGO