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Iran Press TV

Hundreds of troops join NATO military maneuvers in Latvia

Iran Press TV

Tue Apr 18, 2017 7:57AM

The NATO military alliance has kicked off its annual wargames in Latvia, with the participation of hundreds of troops from 11 member states plus Sweden.

Latvia's Defense Ministry announced on Monday the launch of the joint military exercises, dubbed 'Summer Shield' at the Adazi training area, just outside the capital of Riga.

More than 1,200 military personnel from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, the US, Canada, the UK, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Germany and Sweden are taking part in the drills, which will run until April 30.

"The troops this year will engage in a wide range of activities, including artillery support, intelligence gathering, engineering, air defense, anti-tank defense, and the use of measures against weapons of mass destruction," the Latvian ministry said in a statement.

"Advanced observers of the combined fire support and air support controllers, as well as medical company and transport units will also be improving their skills," it added.

The Summer Shield exercises have been held every year in Latvia since 2004, the year the Baltic nation joined the NATO alliance.

Other members have been participating in the events since 2014 when relations between Russia and Western countries deteriorated over the crisis in Ukraine.

The US-led military alliance has already deployed troops and heavy equipment to three Baltic states – Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia – as well as Poland despite criticism from Russia.

Russia has slammed the US and its allies for gradually building up their military presence near its borders.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly rapped NATO over what he termed as the military alliance's constant attempts to drag Moscow into a military confrontation.

"The alliance's newly-declared official mission is to deter Russia," Putin said while reacting recently to "NATO's eastward expansion."

Moscow views the deployment of NATO forces near its borders as a threat.

In response, Russia has beefed up its military capacity and deployed the S-400 air missile defense system together with nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to its Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad bordering Poland and Lithuania.

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