News2019.10.25 16:00

NATO exercises in Baltics to flex muscles unused for 18 years 2019.10.25 16:00

The upcoming Defender 2020 exercises will see 40,000 US troops deploy across Europe. Part of the drills to take place in the Baltics will exercise ‘the muscle that [the US] hasn’t used a lot over the last 18 years,” Secretary of the US Army Ryan. McCarthy told the Army Times on Monday.

According to McCarthy, Defender 2020 will be one of the largest drills in Europe since the Cold War, and will train US forces deploy a large number of troops “in less than two weeks from notification” in emergency scenarios.

The exercises come at a time when the US is “competing against Russia and China,” said McCarthy.

“We have a lot of Eastern European infrastructure that we’re operating on. It needs vast improvements, but because of these types of commitments, the Lithuanians invested in rail infrastructure and the Poles are making investments,” he told the Army Times.

Talking about the need to do more than the NATO two-percent GDP benchmark, McCarthy said "Poland and Lithuania, in particular," are investing in their own national defence capabilities.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has previously criticised the upcoming NATO drills, that mirror the scale of the yearly Zapad exercises held by Russia and Belarus in the Baltic region, saying “it is abnormal [and] does not mean peace has come to Europe and no trouble spots like that will emerge in the future.”

Lithuanian Defence Minister Karoblis said on Wednesday that the drills are unrelated to Belarus, and also said that the Belarus and Russia are invited to observe the exercises.

Read more: Belarus to respond to US armour deployment in Lithuania

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