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Commencing in February: Major Exercise to Deter Russia: Nato to Mobilize 90,000 Soldiers

For a major exercise to deter Russia, Nato is planning to mobilize around 90,000 soldiers. The exercise, named Steadfast Defender, will last for about four months and will be the largest of the defense alliance in decades, stated Nato’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Christopher Cavoli, on Thursday after a meeting of the Nato Military Committee in Brussels. According to the US general, preparations for the maneuvers are set to begin next week. The actual start is planned for February. The training will focus on the alert and deployment of national and multinational ground forces.

Alliance Defense Scenario: Nato Prepares Major Exercise with 90,000 Soldiers

According to information from the German Press Agency, the scenario for the exercise involves a potential Russian attack on allied territory, leading to the declaration of the so-called Article 5 collective defense under the Nato treaty. The latter governs the obligation of mutual assistance within the alliance, stipulating that an armed attack against one or more Allies is considered an attack against all.

The largest Nato exercise since the end of the Cold War was organized in 2018 with a focus in Norway and involved around 51,000 soldiers. The last Nato maneuvers that were larger than the planned exercise took place before the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. For instance, the “Return of Forces to Germany” series took place in 1988 and involved approximately 125,000 soldiers.

Germany Mobilizes Armored Division

According to its own statements, the Bundeswehr will participate in Steadfast Defender with a four-stage major exercise named Quadriga 2024. By the end of May, more than 12,000 soldiers will be involved, focusing on the rapid deployment of forces to the Nato’s eastern flank. For example, from mid-May, the 10th Armored Division will transport soldiers with combat vehicles to Lithuania via various routes and demonstrate their combat capabilities there.

The Nato state in the Baltics is one of the countries that feel particularly threatened by Russia due to its location. People there fear that they could one day face a fate similar to that of the people in Ukraine, who have been confronted with a Russian war of aggression for almost two years now. Cavoli stated on Thursday that the exercise will be a clear demonstration of the alliance’s cohesion, strength, and determination for mutual protection.

Focus on the Eastern Flank

The exercise area for Steadfast Defender extends from Norway to countries such as Romania. Additionally, according to the Bundeswehr, there will be a maritime training component involving the deployment of forces from North America to Europe.

In total, the exercise will involve not only around 90,000 soldiers but also over 1,000 combat vehicles, along with dozens of combat aircraft and naval units. Specifically, military officials mention tanks, aircraft carriers, and F-35 jets.

In addition to Germany, countries such as the United Kingdom are also important contributors to the exercise. The Ministry of Defense in London recently announced that around 20,000 British soldiers from the sea, air, and land forces will participate.

“We Must Be Ready If They Attack Us”

“We are preparing for a conflict with Russia and terrorist groups,” said the Chairman of the Nato Military Committee, Dutch Admiral Rob Bauer, after two days of deliberations at the Nato headquarters in Brussels. “We must be ready if they attack us.”

The exercise is particularly motivated by Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. The Nato partner country has been combating Russian invaders with substantial military aid mainly from Nato countries for almost two years.

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