Estonia, alongside with 17 NATO allies, is participating in the Northern Coasts military exercise; around 3,000 troops and over 40 vessels are taking part in the drill.
The annual Northern Coasts naval exercise started on 3 September in Copenhagen harbour. The exercise is taking place near the Danish straights connecting the Baltic Sea to the North Sea, as well as between Kiel, Germany, and Bornholm, Denmark, NATO said in a statement. The exercise will run until 19 September.
Estonia, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, Italy, Canada, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States are participating in the exercise with ships and aircraft, NATO said.
NATO’s Standing Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) will also be taking part.
“The Baltic Sea is of vital importance for the alliance and is bordered by six NATO countries,” NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said in a statement.
“Northern Coasts is now in its 13th year. Unfortunately, the security environment in the region has deteriorated after Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and its continuing military-build-up.”
Lungescu noted that NATO had responded to Russia’s aggressive actions by increasing air and naval patrols in the region and by deploying just over 4,500 troops to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
Northern Coasts is a recurring exercise which has been taking place in the Baltic Sea since 2007. It is hosted by a different country bordering the Baltic Sea each year.
German Navy Admiral Stephan Haisch will lead the units involved in the exercise from the German Navy’s operations centre in Glücksburg. As part of the exercise scenario, a fictitious regional country raises territorial claims over islands in the Baltic Sea using its naval forces to threaten freedom of navigation. Acting on a UN-mandate, allied and partner forces will seek to restore freedom of navigation. Training will also include maritime surveillance, naval combat, air-defence, anti-submarine warfare and mine-clearance.
Cover: Finnish coastal mine hunter, Katanpää, is participating in the Northern Coasts military exercise. The image is illustrative, courtesy of Wikipedia.