Estonia expects 1,500 NATO troops for major Spring Storm drills
The country’s largest training exercise this year, comprising approximately 6,000 military personnel, including 1,500 allied soldiers, will run from May 2 to May 20, Estonian military said in a statement.
The maneuvers are set to take place in Tartu, Võru and Põlva counties in Southeast Estonia, and will include military contingents and hardware from 10 NATO countries. The main goal of the military exercises is to assess the skills of infantry battalions, rehearse coordination between different units, and improve management methods of staff divisions, the ministry said.
Company-sized units of 80-250 soldiers will be supplied by Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany. Canadian teams of specialists as well as Finnish staff officers will be participating in the exercise as well.
This year’s annual exercise will feature Polish Su-22 fighters and American F-15 fighter jets. American helicopters CH-47 Chinook and V-22 Osprey will also be used.
As usual, the exercises will be held right next to the Russian border. Moscow has repeatedly warned that any increased presence of NATO forces so close to its border is a provocation, and believes it is counter-productive amid the international struggle to de-escalate tensions in Ukraine.
The Spring Storm drills are being held just two weeks after a two-day exercise called Ramstein Alloy 1. During the drills warplanes and aircrews from Belgium, Spain, and Poland, as well as non-NATO members Finland and Sweden, trained to battle so-called “diversions” of intercepted planes at civilian airports in all three Baltic States.