“Russia will never attack any NATO member country. Leaders from Europe and the International community are aware that we have no such plan. I see no threat whatsoever to the Baltic Region which can justify the militarization of Eastern Europe by NATO”, strong criticism of the NATO exercise being conducted near its borders was expressed by the Russian Foreign Minister. Codenamed ‘Anakonda 2016’, NATO forces began their largest military exercise in Europe since the end of the cold war on Monday in Poland.
‘Saber Strike’ exercise is taking place from May 27-June 22 in multiple locations throughout Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. ‘Saber Strike’ is a long standing U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative training exercise designed to improve joint interoperability that prepare the 13 participating nations to support multinational contingency operations.
Anakonda 2016 (AN16) is a Polish national exercise that seeks to train, exercise and integrate Polish national command and force structures into an allied, joint, multinational environment, and is a vital part of ‘Saber Strike’.
31 thousand troops, 3 thousand armed vehicles, 105 fighter aircrafts and more than 12 warships of 24 NATO and partner countries are participating in ‘Anakonda 2016’ which will go on till 17th June.
According to military officials, various traditional war strategies and operations form part of this exercise being conducted under the guidance of “US Army’ in Europe. USA Army Chief Lieutenant General Mark A. Milley has said that an important purpose of AN16 is to showcase the US support to Poland and NATO. As part of this exercise, the Guided missile destroyer ‘USS Porter’ entered Black Sea for the first time, ruffling Russian feathers.
Russia has shown severe displeasure to the exercises being conducted in Poland as well as the military movements across Europe. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov strongly denounced the ongoing military drills and the NATO efforts to expand membership. He warned that although NATO as an organization is not a threat to Russia but the movements of NATO forces near Russian borders is a matter of grave concern for Russian security.