NATO Forces Show Russia They Can Resist Invasion As War Games Come to an End

After nearly two weeks, large North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military exercises conducted near Russia are coming to an end.

Officials said the U.S.-led military exercises, which brought together soldiers from around 22 different countries, have succeeded in demonstrating to Russia that its smaller neighbors have the support and capability of staving off an invasion. Officials from Moscow were not invited to observe the exercises, but NATO said they know Moscow was watching to see how the exercises played out.

This year’s military exercises in the Baltics and Poland, known as Saber Strike 18, were conducted by soldiers from Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States, among others. Soldiers from these NATO allies carried out exercises that were meant to prepare participants to respond if insurgent groups invaded like they have in parts of Eastern Ukraine.

The Saber Strike 18 exercises took place in Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, all countries who share a border with Russia. Many countries in Russia’s periphery have expressed fear of an invasion, especially after Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014. Because NATO member states are entitled to protection under NATO’s Article 5, which guarantees collective defense, the members see these exercises as one of the best ways to deter a potential invasion by a larger neighbor that appears determined to reassert its influence across the region.

As tensions between Russia and the West continue to rise, NATO allies have also been requesting the presence of U.S. troops in their borders in order to strengthen their defenses against Russia. Around 900 U.S. soldiers deployed to Poland in April last year, along with 150 soldiers from the United Kingdom and 120 soldiers from Romania, both of which are also NATO allies. The soldiers are stationed close to the border with Kaliningrad, a militarized enclave controlled by Russia.

Norway, another NATO ally, recently requested that the U.S. more than double the number of troops it has stationed in its borders. Over 300 U.S. Marines were sent to Norway last year, marking the first time the Nordic country had foreign troops stationed within its borders since World War II. Norwegian officials said they are not prepared to have a permanent U.S. military base in their country, but they have nevertheless asked Washington to double its presence after 2019. The U.S. soldiers will be sent to a region along the Norwegian border with Russia.

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