NATO launches biggest war games since Cold War; Russia complains
OSLO, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- With around 50,000 participants from 31 countries, NATO on Thursday launched its biggest military exercise since the end of the Cold War in Norway, as Russia has complained the alliance's levels of military activities near its borders.
All 29 NATO member nations and its partners Sweden and Finland, with around 250 aircraft, 65 vessels and up to 10,000 vehicles, will take part in the exercise, dubbed Trident Juncture 2018, from Oct. 25 to Nov. 7.
NATO said the war games would test the alliance's ability to restore the sovereignty of an ally after an act of armed aggression and will also test and certify the NATO Response Force for 2019.
"The participants will split into 'South forces' and 'North forces'. They will take turns playing the role of the fictitious aggressor and the NATO defending forces," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told a press conference in Brussels on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Russia has complained that the levels of military activities conducted by NATO near Russian borders have been higher than ever since the Cold War, according to Russia's Sputnik news agency.
"NATO's military activity near our borders has reached an unprecedented level since the Cold War. The alliance's policies are aimed at strengthening its advanced military presence on the eastern flank," Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday at a Russia-Belarus joint military panel in Minsk.
"The scale of operation and combat training next to our borders is expanding, and their intensity is growing. The countries of the bloc are training to conduct combat tasks of an offensive nature," he said.
The Trident Juncture 2018 exercise takes place in central and eastern Norway and the surrounding areas of the North Atlantic and the Baltic Sea, including Iceland and the airspace of Finland and Sweden.