BALTOPS: NATO'S ANNUAL BALTIC PRACTICE RUNS ARE UNDERWAY
|PHOTO: US MARINE CORPS|
Every year NATO holds Baltic Naval exercises. BALTOPS began in 1972 as strictly a NATO exercise , Then in 1993 former Eastern Bloc nations joined in the exercises. Russia is becoming more concerned with this naval exercise as there is no doubt that these exercises are at best drills and at worse dress rehearsals for the liberation of Baltic states over run by Russian forces, including non NATO former Soviet Bloc states independent since the Soviet Union collapsed. For 2017 the exercise opened today (Thursday June 1, 2017) in the Polish naval port of Szcecin and will continue through June 6, 2017. This years exercise involves forces from 14 nations and will involve about 50 ships and submarines and at least 50 aircraft of the involved nations. More than 4,000 NATO and other participating nation's troops, mostly marines are participating in amphibious landing exercises.
As usual the Russians are expected to monitor the exercises unofficially. `Unfortunately, in past years Russian monitoring has included regional flights by Russian military air craft into the area. the Russians have not violated any nation's air space or done anything else in these flights that would be illegal under international law. However, the Russians don't file flight plans for such flights, or provide any notice to the NATO air traffic controllers. NATO air traffic controllers are able to detect the presence of these air craft and their speed and direction of travel. The lack of communications presents uncertainty into the announced NATO exercise and sometimes requires modification or delay of evolutions. This is an expensive disruption of the exercise plan and obviously deliberate on the part of the Russians. This practice also increases the chance of accidents and misunderstandings. The Russian actions are deliberate and meant as a message to the NATO alliance. In a similar manner BALTOPS is a quite deliberate message to Russia that NATO is ready and willing to defend the independence of the Baltic States. NATO , however, announces and publishes in all maritime and aviation official notice sources the details of the exercise.
We'll know in about six days how much friction will be involved in this year's BALTOPS exercise. Here are some links to videos about previous BALTOPS .
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