For the first time, NATO will conduct a major military exercise focused on responding to a potential Russian attack in the Baltic Sea.
The drills, which will be led by Germany, come as Moscow continues to assert its maritime power in the ongoing Ukraine war.
According to German Navy chief Vice Admiral Jan Christian Kaack, more than 3,000 troops and 30 surface vessels from various NATO member nations will participate in the rehearsal, dubbed the “Northern Coasts” exercise.
Non-Baltic allies such as Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, the US, and soon-to-be-member Sweden will also participate.
During the exercise, soldiers will train side by side in amphibious operations and strikes from sea to land.
‘A Clear Message to Russia’
According to Kaack, the upcoming naval drills will be the first exercise of this size the German navy will command.
It is expected to solidify the country’s capability to lead alliance operations in the Baltic Sea in case of a conflict.
The vice admiral said the US Navy is preparing to send the Mesa Verde, a ship measuring more than 200 meters (656 feet) and capable of transporting 800 marines in an amphibious assault.
“We are sending a clear message of vigilance to Russia: Not on our watch,” Kaack said, as quoted by Reuters. “Credible deterrence must include the ability to attack.”
The Northern Coasts exercise will begin on September 9 and will last for two weeks.
Increased Naval Activity
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Moscow has engaged in “increased naval activity” in the war-torn nation’s waters.
President Vladimir Putin utilized multiple warships to carry out strikes around the key port city of Odessa, a senior US defense official revealed last year.
Russia and China also recently conducted a joint maritime patrol in the Pacific Ocean involving rescue training and drills for countering air strikes.