NATO is going to conduct its largest military exercises since the end of the Cold War in Northern Europe in response to the deteriorating relations with the Kremlin over its development of new nuclear-ready missiles and uncertainty over Washington’s commitment to transatlantic ties. NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg confirmed the name of the operation – Trident Juncture 2018 – that will take place in Norway in October and November and will see up to 50,000 soldiers from 31 NATO allies and partner countries participate.
The Alliance will deploy 60 ships, 150 aircraft and 10,000 military vehicles in exercises that will involve Iceland and the North Atlantic. The exercise will also serve as the final assessment of the Alliance’s new Spearhead Force that is designed to deploy forces within 48 hours. The idea is to stimulate NATO’s collective response to a potential attack against one ally, although the scheme was described as “fictitious, but realistic”. “Much of the exercise will happen in someone’s backyard, we will conduct the exercise amidst the Norwegian population. It is not something usual, but very realistic. We made sure to also involve environmental specialists,” Secretary General added, stressing that this is a “high visibility exercise” and therefore “transparency is important”.
NATO’s exercise comes at a time when relations between the West and Moscow are tense. Criticizing the most recent cyberattacks, Mr. Stoltenberg said that the Russian leadership should stop their “reckless pattern of behavior”. In September, Russia conducted its biggest exercises in decades, involving 300,000 soldiers, 36,000 tanks and military vehicles, 80 warships and a thousand of aircraft. What grabbed international attention was also the participation of Chinese and Mongolian military, which spurred speculations about stronger Russian-Chinese military ties.