Putin hits back at NATO war games with major Baltic drills after West flexes muscles on Russia’s doorstep


VLADIMIR Putin has hit back at Nato’s war games by staging major drills in the Baltic Sea.

The Russian dictator has sent 60 warships, 40 aircraft and 2,000 units of weapons to sea as the West flexes its muscles on his doorstep.

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Russia has sent 60 warships, 40 aircraft and 2,000 units of weapons to seaCredit: East2West
Putin is staging the war games as the West flexes its muscles on his doorstep

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Putin is staging the war games as the West flexes its muscles on his doorstepCredit: East2West
Some 3,000 Nato troops are taking part in the exercises

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Some 3,000 Nato troops are taking part in the exercisesCredit: Nato
Aircraft from Germany, Finland, Sweden, and the US fly in formation during Nato war games

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Aircraft from Germany, Finland, Sweden, and the US fly in formation during Nato war gamesCredit: USS Kearsarge (LHD 3)
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Gravely

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The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS GravelyCredit: USS Kearsarge (LHD 3)

The Russian Ministry of Defence said its Baltic fleet will “perform training tasks for the defence of sea lanes and fleet bases”.

It said: “In the Baltic Sea and at the combat training ranges in the Kaliningrad region, a planned operational exercise with groups of the Baltic Fleet has started.

“As part of the exercise, naval tactical groups of the Baltic Fleet left their bases and deployed fleet groupings in designated areas.”

The Russian drills, led by commander Vice Admiral Viktor Liina, are intended to “increase the level of readiness and capability of the military”.

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And according to Russian state news agency TASS, the navy drills are “taking place against the background of manoeuvres of naval forces of Nato countries”.

Some 3,000 Nato troops are taking part in the largest ever exercise to test their defence systems amid fears Putin’s war in Ukraine could spill over into other territory.

A total of 50 fighter jets and other aircraft have flown in from bases across Europe.

And 17 surface-based air and missile defence systems are being tested in a show of force against Putin.

The UK’s contribution includes 100 troops from the 7th Air Defence Group at Amari airbase, Estonia, and Ustka, Poland.

General Jeffrey Harrigian, the commander of Allied Air Command, said: “Given the current security situation following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, large-scale training exercises like this are now more important to Nato than ever.”

Thordis Gylfadottir, Iceland’s foreign minister, warned the “threat of a direct military aggression against a Nato country can no longer be excluded”.

And Artis Pabriks, Latvia’s defence minister, said Nato wanted to show Putin that its territory would be “defended starting from the first metre, and will not be lost”.

The Baltic Sea, located in northern Europe, is enclosed by Nato member states Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland.

Russia quit the Council of the Baltic Sea States last month – accusing the organisation of becoming “an instrument of anti-Russian policy” and “increasingly bogged down in Russophobia and lies”.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said it was important for Nato to be “deeply wary” of Moscow as he does not see Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as countries in their own right. 

He said: “He feels no compulsion about breaking people’s borders.

“Whether he would be silly or foolish enough to do that in an overt manner with a cruise missile remains to be seen but he would be dealing then with Nato.”

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The navy drills come amid mounting tensions between Moscow and Nato after Sweden and Finland submitted their bids to join the US-led alliance after the start of Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine.

If their membership – currently blocked by Turkey – is approved, Russia would become the only non-NATO country on the Baltic Sea.





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