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Warning to Russia? NATO launches the biggest air maneuvers in its history by surprise

More than 10,000 soldiers and 250 planes from the different States of the Alliance will participate. The details of this massive mobilization.

NATO announced this Wednesday that next week it will carry out the largest air maneuvers in its history, a massive exercise to mobilize its military capacity in a few days and that was not on any official agenda. want to show like this that can respond to any incident just as Ukraine begins its counteroffensive against the Russian troops occupying the southeastern part of its territory.

The maneuvers, named “Air Defender”, will last 10 days, cause the suspension of almost 1,000 commercial flights and will mobilize 250 aircraft from 25 of the 30 Member States of the Atlantic Alliance. With them More than 10,000 soldiers will be mobilized.

The country that will lead the maneuvers will be Germany and two nations that are not members of the Northwestern military organization will also participate: Sweden (which has requested entry) and Japan.

The maneuvers will serve to check the operability of NATO combat air assets, from Eurofighter, Tornado and Gripen fighter-bombers to Reaper attack drones, through attack and troop transport helicopters, cargo planes and tanker planes. Most of the exercises will be done from three German military bases.

A NATO Artillery Command plane, during exercises in Germany, in a photo from 2022. Photo: REUTERS

show of force

General Ingo Gerhartz, head of the German Air Force, told a press conference on Wednesday that the idea of ​​launching massive maneuvers with very few days notice was thought of in 2018, four years after Russia took over by force. with the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea. Gerhartz also said that the maneuvers are not directed against anyone and are only organized to “show that our alliance is capable of defending itself.”

Amy Gutmann, the US ambassador in Berlin, was a bit more clear in saying that she would be surprised if some world leader did not take note of what these exercises show “in terms of the strength of the alliance. And that includes Putin.” This Wednesday there was no reaction from Moscow.

The maneuvers also serve to see the Copernican change that Germany gave in Defense matters since the outbreak of the Russian aggression against Ukraine. The German Defense was, in proportion to the economic capacity of the country, much less than that of France or the United Kingdom and although on paper it surpassed Italy or Spain, in reality it was not so.

Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz, of the German Air Force, explained to the press on Wednesday the scope of NATO's air maneuvers.  Photo: REUTERS

Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz, of the German Air Force, explained to the press on Wednesday the scope of NATO’s air maneuvers. Photo: REUTERS

After the Russian attack, the head of the German government, Olaf Scholz, promised a radical change and announced a fund of 100,000 million euros in three years to equip and strengthen its Armed Forces and a permanent increase in defense spending above the 2% set by NATO’s (voluntary compliance) standards.

If spending is going at a snail’s pace, the political change that marks Germany’s position as leader of these maneuvers shows that Scholz wants to change the role of his country in the defense of Europe, until now dependent on the security umbrella provided by the United States. Joined.

Germany wants to show its European partners and Washington that it is prepared for any military contingency and that it is capable of organizing complex and massive exercises. Despite German leadership in these maneuvers, about 100 of the 250 military aircraft that will participate in them will be American.

In addition to Germany, there will be exercises in the Czech Republic, Latvia, Estonia and over the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. NATO sources said on Wednesday that the idea is to demonstrate to whoever wants to take the hint that the military presence of the Atlantic Alliance on its eastern flank is here to stay, that the United States is returning to Europe (from where little by little it had been withdrawing and men since the end of the Cold War) and that NATO is capable of mobilizing hundreds of combat aircraft in a few days.

NATO says that for now it is not proposed that these exercises be carried out annually but that it does not expect them to be the last of this magnitude either.

Several European media highlighted this Wednesday that the maneuvers will seriously disrupting the flight plans of hundreds of thousands of people, but the Atlantic Alliance defended itself by arguing that they are planned in the least disruptive way possible, that they will last a maximum of 10 days and that many of the flights will be made in areas of airspace that commercial flights do not usually occupy.

Brussels, special


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