‘Sabre Strike’, held on Putin’s doorstep, was aimed at preparing participating nations for a ‘hypothetical attack’
Over 18,000 troops from 19 nations have taken part in massive US-led war games in countries that border Russia.
The US army said the military drills were “a demonstration of the commitment and solidarity” of NATO forces at a time of heightened tensions with Moscow.
Israel, which is not a NATO member, was also involved in the exercises which were carried out in the days leading up to the world cup in Russia.
The Independent reports: The drills, known as Sabre Strike, have been taking place in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. They centred around a hypothetical attack and aimed to test the response and co-operation of the 19 countries involved,.
“It is important for the United States of America, it is important for the continent of Europe, and really it is important to the world,” said Brigadier General Ross Coffman.
“What it really shows is that we stand side-by-side here on the continent and support one another,” added the general, who commands 1st Infantry Division troops involved in Atlantic Resolve, a Nato mission launched in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Donald Trump this week said the US would halt joint military exercises with South Korea, noting after his historic summit with Kim Jong-un that the war games were “very provocative” and expensive.
It is the eighth year the Sabre Strike exercises have taken place, but this year’s drills come amid increased concerns about Russian military manoeuvres and in the wake of the poisoning of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury.
Brig Gen Coffman described the assassination attempt on the former MI6 informant as “horrific” but said the drills were not adjusted as a result.
“These training objectives were set long ago, they’re clear, they’re pertinent and they are necessary,” he added.
The drills, which began on 3 June and will conclude on 15 June, were “clearly focused on readiness”, the general said.