The Steadfast Defender exercise in Germany, Poland and the Baltics will involve about 41,000 soldiers, the agency reports
NATO is poised to hold its biggest military exercises since the Cold War era early next year, the Financial Times reported on Monday. The exercises are meant to simulate a potential Russian invasion and are intended to increase the bloc’s preparedness for such a scenario, according to the article.
Named Steadfast Defender, the exercises will involve about 41,000 troops, more than 50 ships and between 500 and 700 combat air missions, according to the report. While the exercises are designed to simulate a clash with a fictitious coalition called ‘Occasus’, Nato officials told the FT that the maneuvers are “seen as a key part of demonstrating to Moscow that the alliance is ready to fight.”
The exercises will take place in Germany, Poland and the Baltic states in February and March 2024 and will involve not only the members of the US-led military bloc, but also Sweden, the report said. The Nordic nation applied to join NATO last year, but the application remains in limbo due to Turkey and Hungary’s reluctance to ratify its bid amid a number of grievances in bilateral relations.
The FT also reported that the exercise is seen as part of a new training strategy under which the alliance will hold two major war games a year instead of one. The exercise will also reportedly focus on efforts against terrorism outside the bloc’s borders.
In June 2022, against the backdrop of the Ukraine conflict, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced that the bloc would deploy 300,000 troops, describing the development as the “biggest overhaul of our collective defense and deterrence since the Cold War.”
Meanwhile, Russian officials have repeatedly said they perceive NATO’s military buildup as a threat and have warned that such moves will lead to increased tensions in the region, prompting additional security measures from Moscow. Russia has also repeatedly warned the bloc against further expansion closer to Russia’s borders. President Vladimir Putin has said that one of the main reasons behind the Ukraine conflict was the risk of Kiev joining the alliance.