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NATO Launches Largest War Games In Decades To Be Staged In Latvia

Submitted by PlanetFreeWill

NATO has launched the largest war games to ever take place in Latvia since the country became independent in 1918. The military games, which have been in preparation for four years, are scheduled to include military and police addressing “spontaneous” unrest in Russian-populated towns, reports RT.

The two-week drills began on Monday, and are scheduled to end on September 2.

“After four years of intensive preparations, this will be the largest military training exercise since the restoration of Latvia’s independence in which we will test the armed forces’ readiness to defend Latvia from any threats,” said Latvian Chief of Defense, Lieutenant General Leonids Kalnins.

“This exercise is the opportunity to train not only the National Armed Forces but also Latvia’s overall defense capabilities as our partners are involved in the drills as well,” he continued.

Apart from the Latvian Armed Forces, National Guard, law enforcement and volunteers, the drills would also involve troops from more than a dozen of other NATO states, including the US, Canada, Spain, Italy and Poland as well as other Baltic States. The total number of troops participating in the drills amounts to 10,000, local media reported.

The Latvian army released a promo video for the drills on Monday.

One such drill will include troops being deployed to counter unrest among the general public in the towns of Valmiera and Jekabpils, both of which are made up of a Russian ethnic majority.

"We will not create a scenario against a particular country, but we will prepare the National Armed Forces to protect Latvia against any danger," General Kalnins said. He added that what he called Russia's hybrid operations in eastern Ukraine had been taken into account while developing the scenarios for the exercises, the Latvian Public Broadcaster LSM reported.

"In the training, we will use a NATO scenario based on the geographic conditions of the region. This scenario is flexible enough to run both conventional tactical operations and scenarios for preventing provocations in the country," Lieutenant Colonel Gunars Grikmanis, Commander of the Military Training Department of the Armed Forces Joint Staff, told the official Latvian military portal sargs.lv.

"The main challenges in the training will be related to this cooperation with other state structures – with the police and the border guard. Cooperation with state and local government institutions and the civilian population will also be essential,” Grikmanis added.

Citizens have been made aware that no live ammunition will be used but received warning that the training would be "very realistic."

The war games come just weeks after the Russian Priminister Medvedev voiced opposition of Georgia joining NATO.

“This (Georgia’s entry to NATO) could provoke a terrible conflict. I don’t understand what they are doing this for,” Medvedev told a local paper.

NATO discussed its commitment to admit Georgia to the military alliance during a July summit in Brussels.

The drills are also shortly proceeding a warning from Russian President Putin who warned NATO against cultivating closer ties with Ukraine and Georgia, saying such a policy was irresponsible and would have unspecified consequences for the alliance.

Meanwhile, the US-led bloc has also intensified military exercises in Eastern Europe. In June, more than 18,000 soldiers from 19 countries took part in the two-week ‘Saber Strike’ exercise, held in Poland and the Baltic States. The drills were said to be aimed at training the deployment of military convoys to defend NATO’s eastern flank. The US-led military bloc, however, keeps saying that the drills are not aimed at “provoking” Russia.

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