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NATO begins Latvian stage of military drills in Baltic region

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
File photo of armored fighting vehicles IAV Stryker of the US Cavalry Regiment 2nd subdivision during military training with Latvian and Canadian soldiers at the Adazi military training area in Latvia. (AFP photo)

Member nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have started a new phase of their International military drills in the Baltic states amid persisting tensions with Moscow.

The latest stage of the NATO exercises, codenamed Saber Strike, began on Saturday with tank drills in Latvia’s Adazi Military Base, located near the capital Riga, Sputnik reported citing local media dispatches.

Conducted annually since 2010, the Saber Strike exercise, taking place this year from May 27 to June 22, is a set of collaborative military training drills involving US and European forces that is held in multiple locations throughout Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia.

File photo of  camouflaged soldiers during a partner training with Latvian an Canadian soldiers at the Adazi military training area in Latvia. (AFP photo)

Participating countries in this year’s maneuvers are the three Baltic states, as well as the US, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, and the United Kingdom.

According to the report, the US-built M1 Abrams main battle tanks used during the drills had been delivered to Latvia from Norway-based military supply depots by sea.

NATO recently launched its biggest-ever joint maneuvers in Poland — to the west of Russia, a move that was immediately condemned by Russian authorities. NATO also recently launched a missile system installed in European countries, further enraging Russia.

NATO claims such military activities are not intended to target Russia, but Moscow has long complained that the military alliance aims to make inroads into Russian spheres of influence in Eastern Europe.

Relations between Russia and the West have grown particularly cold since early 2014, when the then-Ukrainian Crimean Peninsula voted in a referendum to join the Russian Federation.

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