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NATO confirms holding ‘largest’ military exercise since Cold War next year

The file photo shows NATO forces during a military drill in Romania.

A senior official with NATO has confirmed that the US-led military alliance is preparing to hold next year its largest drills since the Cold War with thousands of troops in Germany, Poland and the Baltics.

Admiral Rob Bauer, chair of NATO’s Military Committee, announced on Saturday that the massive military exercise, dubbed “Steadfast Defender”, is scheduled to take place next year in Germany, Poland and the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

“In 2024, the alliance will be holding its largest collective defense exercise since the Cold War: Steadfast Defender. Over 40,000 troops from across the alliance will exercise in Germany, Poland and the three Baltic States,” Bauer was quoted as saying by NATO at a press conference in the Norwegian capital of Oslo.

Stressing that NATO is stepping into a “new era of collective defense,” Bauer said the bloc needs to do “much more” to supposedly protect itself against “current threats, but also against reconstituted threats and potential future threats.”

The admiral also criticized the NATO members’ lack of commitment to what he called a solid security foundation and once again reaffirmed the bloc’s determination to provide Ukraine with arms in its ongoing conflict with Russia.

NATO annually holds several drills, mostly land-focused, to ensure that the alliance’s forces are trained and to test their interoperability and readiness to respond to what it slams as “threats.”

Earlier this week, the Financial Times reported that the Steadfast Defender drills would involve more than 50 ships and between 500 and 700 combat air missions close to Russian borders. The paper said the exercises were scheduled to be held in February and March 2024.

Russian officials have on numerous occasions said they perceive NATO’s military build-up as a threat, warning that such moves will only increase tensions in the region.

The highly-aggrandized war games come as Russia is involved in a months-long “special military operation” in neighboring Ukraine, which enjoys unflinching support from NATO both in the form of funds and logistics.

The White House recently confirmed that the administration of US President Joe Biden has so far spent more than $100 billion on the war in Ukraine despite repeated warnings from Moscow.

Western officials have criticized Kiev over the past weeks for failing to deliver on its promises of victory on the battlefield despite receiving tens of billions of dollars worth of weapons and munitions and just asking for more.

Some Western officials have also construed the support for Ukraine as their loss and a distraction from their own domestic problems.

Russia has time and again warned that the continued supply of Western arms and munitions to the Ukrainian military would only prolong the war, add to losses, and exacerbate the sufferings of the Ukrainian nation.

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