BRUSSELS — NATO will launch next week its biggest military exercises in decades with around 90,000 personnel set to take part in months-long wargames aimed at showing that the alliance can defend all of its territory up to its border with Russia, top officers said Thursday.
The exercises come as Russia's war on Ukraine bogs down. NATO as an organization is not directly involved in the conflict, except to supply Kyiv with non-lethal support, although many member countries send weapons and ammunition individually or in groups, and provide military training.
In the months before President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops into Ukraine in February 2022, NATO began beefing up security on its eastern flank with Russia and Ukraine. It's the alliance's biggest buildup since the Cold War. The wargames are meant to deter Russia from targeting a member country.
The exercises – dubbed Steadfast Defender 24 – “will show that NATO can conduct and sustain complex multi-domain operations over several months, across thousands of kilometers (miles), from the High North to Central and Eastern Europe, and in any condition,” the 31-nation organization said.
Troops will be moving to and through Europe until the end of May in what NATO describes as “a simulated emerging conflict scenario with a near-peer adversary.” Under NATO's new defense plans, its chief adversaries are Russia and terrorist organizations.