NATO flexes muscles in Baltic states amid Russia tensions
Iran Press TV
Mon Jun 1, 2015 6:0PM
US-led NATO has started war games in the Baltic states and Poland, a move designed to reassure Russia's neighbors amid the crisis in Ukraine.
The drills, which started on Monday, are being held against the backdrop of Russia's increased military presence in the Baltic Sea and regional airspace.
More than 6,000 troops from 13 NATO countries are participating in the Saber Strike 2015 drills in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, all EU and NATO members.
'This is one of the biggest exercises in Lithuania since we joined NATO' in 2004, Major General Almantas Leika, commander of Lithuania's land forces, told reporters in Vilnius.
'The huge allied presence demonstrates solidarity with the countries of this region,' he said, adding that Lithuania is hosting the command center for the drills.
The war games come a week after Russia began conducting military exercises at the same time as NATO planes joined Nordic air forces for a drill in Sweden.
The US has, meanwhile, ramped up its military presence in the Eastern Europe following the crisis in Ukraine.
The European Union and the United States have taken a series of punitive measures against Moscow over the past months, accusing the Kremlin of supporting pro-Russia forces operating in eastern Ukraine.
The Kremlin, however, has denounced the accusations as groundless and reacted by enforcing restrictions on some food imports from the US, the EU, Norway, Canada, and Australia.
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