Large-scale NATO military drills has started in Estonia on Monday, May 16. The exercise called “Hedgehog 2022” is one of the largest in the Baltic nation’s history, according to the military bloc, and will involve about 15,000 troops from 14 nations.
It is noted that soldiers from Finland, Sweden, Georgia, and Ukraine will also take part in the exercise, according to the ‘Yle’ Finnish public broadcaster. The drills will include all branches of the armed forces and will involve air, sea, and land exercises, as well as cyber warfare training. According to a NATO statement, the drills will also include the US Navy Wasp-class landing ship ‘Kearsarge’ in the exercises.
As specified, both the military bloc and Estonian Defense Forces deputy commander, Major General Veiko-Vello Palm, have denied that the drills just over 60 km from the Russian border have anything to do with Moscow’s ongoing military operation in Ukraine.
However, the exercises in Estonia are just one part of NATO’s large-scale military activities near the Russian border. Another Baltic state, Lithuania, is hosting the “Iron Wolf” exercise, which involves 3,000 NATO troops and 1,000 pieces of military equipment, including Germany’s Leopard 2 tanks.
Also, two of NATO’s biggest exercises, “Defender Europe” and “Swift Response”, are taking place in Poland and eight other countries, involving 18,000 troops from 20 nations, according to NATO’s statement on Friday.
In addition, the NATO Response Force is currently taking part in the 7,500-strong “Wettiner Heide” drills in Germany. The Mediterranean Sea is about to witness Neptune series naval drills involving the USS ‘Harry S. Truman’ carrier strike group that will be placed under NATO command. According to the bloc, this will only be the second time since the end of the Cold War that a US carrier group has been transferred under the military bloc’s command.
It is reminded that in late April, Finland hosted NATO naval drills. Now, it is also hosting a joint land exercise, in which troops from the US, the UK, Estonia, and Latvia are participating.