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Sweden joins NATO’s exercises as full member for the first time

FILE PHOTO Copyright AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis
Copyright AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis
By Daniel HarperAP
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9,000 troops from 20 NATO countries conducted extensive military exercises in the Baltic Sea region, with Sweden participating as a full NATO member for the first time.


Approximately 9,000 troops from 20 NATO countries have been conducting military exercises in June in the Baltic Sea region, an area of increased strategic significance following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

This year's Baltops exercises are notable as Sweden, now a full NATO member, joined the drills for the first time since its recent induction into the alliance.

The exercises, which run through Thursday, involve comprehensive training operations including sea mine sweeps, submarine detection, landings, and medical response to mass casualty scenarios.

The primary aim is to enhance the interoperability of NATO forces and demonstrate the alliance's commitment to joint security.

NATO’s Naval Striking and Support Forces, along with the US Navy's 6th Fleet, are organising the drills, which feature around 50 navy ships and 45 aircraft and helicopters.

These exercises are being held across the Baltic Sea, as well as on the strategic island of Gotland in Sweden, and in Lithuania, Poland, and Germany.

The Baltic region's significance has grown due to major gas pipelines running across its seabed from Russia and Norway to Germany, Poland, and other European nations.

The area has become increasingly sensitive since Russia's increased hostile activities following its 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

Military armored vehicles take part in the Baltops 2024 exercise in the Baltic Sea region.
Military armored vehicles take part in the Baltops 2024 exercise in the Baltic Sea region.Cameron C. Edy/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved

US Marine Corps Andrew T. Priddy emphasised the importance of NATO’s presence on Gotland Island, saying, 'The dynamic challenges of the Baltic Region demand a refined, precise, and efficient amphibious capability; and that is exactly what we conducted in Sweden today. The landing location was intentional: NATO’s presence on Gotland Island is vital to protecting the security and stability of the Baltic Sea.'

The extensive joint exercises underscore NATO's strategic priorities and readiness in a region of critical geopolitical importance.

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