Exercises includes night-time helicopter assault and the dropping of US paratroopers to build a temporary bridge over Poland’s Vistula river.

A large-scale military training exercise involving more than 20 NATO and partner countries has kicked off in Poland, part of efforts to reassure east European nations rattled by Russia’s actions in nearby Ukraine.

For more than 10 days, 30,000 troops backed by large numbers of vehicles, aircraft and ships will be deployed in one of the biggest exercises on NATO’s eastern flank since the end of the Cold War, a move likely to put further strain on the already-tense relations between the Kremlin and the West.

NATO says exercises such as Anakonda-16, Exercise Saber Strike 16, and plans for the deployment of more troops to the region are a defensive response to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.


 

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The United States will provide around 14,000 troops for the exercise, the largest foreign contingent. Non-NATO countries such as Sweden and Finland are also taking part in the exercise.

Poland joined NATO in 1999, a decade after the demise of Moscow-backed communism in eastern Europe. Warsaw has been very critical of Moscow’s actions in Ukraine and has repeatedly urged NATO to boost its presence on Polish territory.

Russia has accused the US-led alliance of threatening its security by expanding eastwards and has warned of retaliation.

NATO says exercises such as Anakonda-16 and plans for the deployment of more troops to the region are a defensive response to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

NATO officials have also expressed concern about Russia’s own military exercises in which thousands of Russian troops conduct war games without giving the alliance any prior warning.

Read More: The Independent


Russia says military exercises currently being conducted by NATO in Poland “do not contribute to an atmosphere of trust and security” in Europe.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made the comments on June 7, a day after NATO members and partners launched their biggest-ever joint exercise in Poland.

Some 31,000 Polish, U.S., and other troops from NATO states and five partner countries are participating in the land, sea, and air drills.

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The exercises are taking place weeks before NATO holds a summit in Warsaw that is expected to decide on whether to significantly increase NATO troop and equipment deployments to bases in Poland and the Baltic states.

Russia says any presence of NATO troops close to its borders is a threat to its security and warns it will take measures to respond.

Read More: RFE/RL

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