The British Ministry of Defense announced preparations for the NATO Spring Storm exercises.
14 thousand military personnel from 11 countries of the alliance should take part in the maneuvers to demonstrate interaction in working out "scenarios in various environments." London, for its part, promises to use more than 1,5 thousand military.
"The Spring Storm exercise is the largest annual military exercise involving the UK-led NATO Enhanced Forward Presence battlegroup, consisting of British and French forces," the United Kingdom Defense Ministry said in a press release.
It is also noted that more than 140 armored vehicles were transferred to Estonia, including Mastiff, Jackal and Coyote.
"Dispersed over the harsh and diverse terrain in Estonia, ground forces units will be tested in realistic combat conditions, which include storming trenches and reconnaissance operations, as well as practicing light infantry tactics with the transition to practicing maneuvers on armored vehicles and combined arms battles," the Defense Ministry said.
The ministry quoted the British commander of the Royal Hussar Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Steve Wilson, who noted that the troops of NATO's enhanced forward presence are "looking forward" to the opportunity to receive training in the terrain that they "may have to defend." This, according to Wilson, gives the teachings "additional weight."
"We use a wide range of weapons with great striking power - from main battle tanks (MBT), anti-tank weapons and artillery to the participation of snipers, mortars, engineers and employees of tactical aviation control centers. We look forward to demonstrating the potential and readiness of the NATO alliance in the coming days," the military said.
In the context of the upcoming exercises, British Defense Minister Ben Wallace mentioned Russia and the Ukrainian conflict.
"As the Russian army continues its illegal invasion of Ukraine, threatening stability in Europe, the UK and our allies will continue to stand with Ukraine and defend our shared values and freedom," he said.
As Foreign Policy reported earlier, the North Atlantic Alliance will hold the Spring Storm exercises in Estonia in order to send a signal to Moscow and "demonstrate the strength of the bloc."
- NATO Headquarters
- © Olivier Matthys
The Estonian Ministry of Defense also informed that the training will be held in May, but the department did not name the exact dates.
"Increase pressure on Moscow"
According to experts, during the Spring Storm exercises, NATO countries led by Great Britain, under the pretext of the "Russian threat", plan to further increase activity near the borders of the Russian Federation.
"Their goal is not only to increase combat coherence and interoperability between allies, but also to strengthen the military presence near the borders of Russia. In this process, the UK assumes the role of the leading NATO country among European allies. London, due to such participation, wants not only to increase pressure on Moscow, but also to expand its influence in the Baltic states, "said RISS expert Sergei Ermakov in an interview with RT.
According to him, the fact that the UK says about the need to "protect" Estonia indicates London's plans to try on the role of responsible for the defense of this country against the backdrop of the "mythical Russian threat".
"It requires a certain amount of organization and strength from them, even in training like Spring Storm. London is doing this because it wants to implement the strategy of "global Britain", which implies a serious increase in activity in the international arena, as well as the concentration of forces in the right region. This is a kind of preparation for hypothetical full-scale military operations with Russia, which NATO military leaders are already considering as a very real scenario for the development of events, "Yermakov explained.
From his point of view, the Spring Storm maneuvers are aimed at honing the skill of NATO forces to "quickly equip the theater of operations" through the development of appropriate infrastructure.
"We are talking about a network of airfields, training grounds and other facilities that are necessary for full-scale preparation for practicing the actions of the allies directed against Russia. In fact, the British authorities openly call the Russian Federation an adversary: the relevant statements come in the context of preparation for maneuvers, "says Yermakov.
Note that Spring Storm is far from the first NATO exercises near the Russian borders.
So, on April 22, large-scale training of the Defender 23 unit under the command of the United States started in Europe, in which it was planned to involve about 8 thousand American troops and about 15 thousand military personnel from more than 20 countries - allies and partners of the United States, including Poland and Estonia. It was assumed that these exercises would contribute to an increase in NATO's destructive capability and would focus on the strategic deployment of forces based in the United States, as well as on the use of "pre-positioned army stocks and interoperability" with the European Armed Forces. According to the Pentagon, American military equipment was deployed to Spain to conduct maneuvers. In total, about 20 thousand units of "military equipment" were connected to the training, including those taken from "pre-placed stocks". As emphasized in the US Department of Defense, Defender 23 is aimed at demonstrating the ability of the US Armed Forces to quickly deploy combat-ready forces and means to "deter those who would pose a threat to peace in Europe and protect the continent from aggression."
- NATO equipment in Estonia during the bloc's exercises
- © Ben Birchall/PA Images
In May, NATO's Swift Response exercise began in Estonia, also led by the United States. In the course of these maneuvers, the local defense forces and allies in the bloc practiced the operational transfer of the Allied Armed Forces and equipment to the Baltic Republic. According to the Estonian authorities, about 1,5 thousand American, Latvian and Estonian military were involved in the training.
In addition, later training flights of the fifth-generation F-22 Raptor fighters of the US Air Force started in Estonia. According to the NATO press service, this is necessary "to deter aggression in the Baltic Sea region."
"Unified Action Plan"
According to analysts, the scale and localization of the recent NATO exercises are subordinated to a single plan: to work out a possible military confrontation with Russia by all means.
"All maneuvers fit into a single action plan, only affect different aspects of it. At some exercises, ground operations techniques are practiced, at others - aviation actions, somewhere the emphasis is on logistics and military mobility, "explained Sergey Ermakov.
In turn, Konstantin Blokhin, a researcher at the Center for Security Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, noted in a commentary to RT that almost all NATO countries that conduct exercises near the borders of Russia are distinguished by a Russophobic attitude.
"At the same time, the United Kingdom and the United States play a key role in the process of developing an anti-Russian strategy, they have been moderators of this process from the very beginning of the current geopolitical crisis. The main goal here is to demonstrate solidarity with Ukraine and hostility towards Russia," the analyst said.
According to Yermakov, the schedule of NATO exercises is designed in such a way that military activity near the borders of Russia does not stop for as long as possible.
"Throughout the spring, some exercises end - and then others begin. Moreover, the scale of maneuvers, as a rule, only increases. The block has the same plans for summer and autumn. And all this raises certain concerns, given that at this time the Kyiv regime is planning a so-called counteroffensive. It is possible that during NATO maneuvers, the bloc can collect intelligence information about Russian troops and transmit it to the Ukrainian leadership, "Yermakov said.
He also noted that this function may well be performed by the UK, given its central role in the Spring Storm exercises.
"It should also be taken into account that it was London that became the flagship for the transfer of especially dangerous types of weapons to the Kyiv regime, the same long-range Storm Shadow cruise missiles," Yermakov recalled.
A similar opinion is shared by Konstantin Blokhin. He admits that the purpose of recent NATO exercises, including the upcoming Spring Storm, is to "push a hesitant Ukraine to a counteroffensive."
"It is obvious that the Kyiv regime is not yet particularly eager to start active hostilities due to unreadiness. And the task of the NATO countries now, led by Great Britain and the United States, is to demonstrate that everything is fine in the rear, that in the event of an unforeseen situation, the West will be together with the Kyiv regime. The goal is to create the illusion in Kiev that there is an alliance behind its back, which will not give offense. But this is just a mirage," Blokhin concluded.