Russia Launches Baltic Naval Drills, Ratcheting Up Tensions With European Neighbors

Voice of America News reports: “Russia’s Ministry of Defense said it began live-fire naval exercises Wednesday in the Baltic Sea, ratcheting up tensions with nearby European nations that are already high over NATO and Ukraine.

Russia last carried out mass military exercises in the Baltic Sea in June, two months after Finland became NATO’s newest member. The drills took place at the same time NATO was holding its own Baltic Sea exercises.

The Russian exercises announced Wednesday will involve more personnel and aircraft than the last round and will feature the use of live weapons. The Russian defense ministry said the navy’s commander-in-chief, Admiral Nikolai Evmenov, will oversee the drills, which were designed to test ‘the navy’s readiness to protect the national interests of the Russian Federation in an operationally important area.’

The Ocean Shield-2023 exercises will involve forces practicing how to ‘protect sea lanes, transport troops and military cargo, as well as defend the coastline,’ the ministry said. More than 200 combat exercises will involve some 6,000 personnel, 30 warships and boats and 30 aircraft, it added…”

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