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Fourteen NATO member countries and the two accession candidates, Sweden and Finland, are taking part in the so-called Baltops 22 military maneuvers in the Baltic Sea.
U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley announced that 14 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members will conduct the Baltic Sea major military exercises Baltops 22 from June 5-17, in which Sweden and Finland will also participate. The announcement was made at a joint press conference with Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist in the Swedish capital Stockholm on Saturday.
Milley has pointed out that it is important for the Atlantic Alliance and the U.S. to show solidarity with Finland and Sweden in their desire to join the military bloc. "This is a big exercise with 7000-8000 soldiers from 16 countries, two of which are not NATO members," he has added.
Regarding Sweden's accession to NATO, he has pointed out that this country will contribute to strengthening the position of the military bloc in the Baltic Sea region, with great capabilities in various aircraft, including a first-class air force, modern technical equipment, a strong Navy and well-trained ground forces.
For his part, the Swedish Defense Minister, after thanking Washington for its support, stressed the need to maintain cooperations between member countries due to the delicate situation caused by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
Fourteen NATO Allies, two NATO partner nations, over 45 ships, more than 75 aircraft, and approximately 7,000 personnel will exercise a myriad of capabilities demonstrating the inherent flexibility of maritime forces during BALTOPS 22. https://t.co/dTp87FbfiKpic.twitter.com/zsw94jr0jw
— SHAPE_NATO Allied Command Operations (@SHAPE_NATO)
May 30, 2022
"This is the first major war since World War II in our neighborhood. One could say it is a new Cold War or a new Iron Curtain. One must realize what is happening and stand united with other democratic countries," he has asserted.
According to the Defence News portal, 45 ships, more than 75 aircraft and nearly 7,000 troops from 14 NATO countries, plus Sweden and Finland, are taking part in the two-week maneuvers. During these exercises, amphibious, anti-submarine, artillery and air defense operations will be carried out.
The maneuvers are taking place at a time when Russia and NATO, led by the U.S., are experiencing an escalation of tensions over various issues, including the Atlantic Alliance's support for Ukraine, where Russia continues its military operation, and the possible accession of Finland and Sweden to the bloc.