NATO begins its largest military exercise since Cold War

(VOVWORLD) - Steadfast Defender 2024, NATO’s biggest military exercise since the end of the Cold War, began Wednesday with the departure of the USS Gunston Hall from a naval base in Norfolk, Virginia.

NATO says 90,000 troops will take part in the months-long exercise aimed at testing the alliance's defense capabilities. There will be a series of small-scale exercises stretching from North America to NATO's eastern flank near the Russian border. 50 naval ships, 80 aircraft, and more than 1,100 combat vehicles will participate in the largest exercise of the military alliance for more than three decades.

 NATO officials said the purpose of the exercise is to improve combat capabilities and inter-Atlantic coordination of NATO forces given the Euro-Atlantic security being negatively impacted by the conflict in Ukraine. But NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he sees no direct or imminent threat from Russia to any NATO member.   

“We don't see any direct or imminent threat against any NATO ally. The whole idea is to prevent an attack on a NATO ally," said Stoltenberg. 

The Russian Foreign Ministry earlier this week criticized the large-scale military exercise as a move that shows NATO wants to step up confrontation with Russia.

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