Western Balkans Phase of NATO Defender Europe 2023 Drills Starts in Kosovo
BELGRADE (Sputnik) - NATO's largest international military exercise Defender Europe 2023 ongoing since April is arriving in Kosovo on Sunday to later expand to the broader Western Balkans region until June 2.
"Our intentions are clear, the army of the Republic of Kosovo is ready to join the NATO family," Kosovo's defense minister, Armend Mehaj, said on social media.
The opening ceremony in the center of Pristina lists Kosovo's highest-ranking officials among the attendees, including President Albin Kurti. The United States European Command (EUROCOM) will be leading the exercise.
Over 7,000 troops from the United States and 17,000 from 20 allied and partner countries are expected to participate in the drills. Kosovo's media have reported that the former Serbian province's 1,300-contingent will be one of the largest.
Defender Europe is an annual exercise aimed at increasing the combat readiness and interoperability between the armed forces of the US, NATO and partner states. Having started on April 22, Defender Europe 2023 is scheduled to take place at several locations in Europe until June 23.
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