As the U.S-led DefenderEurope 2021 war games continue in twelve European nations into June, NATO has recently concluded both naval and ground war exercises in the Baltic states.
The DefenderEurope 2021 exercises include estimates of as many as 37,000 troops from at least 27 NATO member and partner states and appear to be based entirely in Eastern Europe, from the Baltic Sea to the Balkans and the Black Sea. Comprehensive figures are not verifiable, but there is every reason to believe this is the largest U.S.-NATO military exercise since the Cod War; and moreover one occurring as Russia and Ukraine, steadfastly backed by the U.S. and NATO, are at loggerheads over renewed fighting in the Donbass region of what was formerly Eastern Ukraine.
NATO’s Allied Command Operations website reports today that the military alliance completed the eight-day Crystal Arrow 2021 exercise which was run by U.S. Army forces in conjunction with two NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battle Groups, from Latvia and Lithuania. (The other two NATO Battle Groups are in Estonia and Poland.)
The following paragraph is a condensed case study in NATO war plans:
“NATO Allies and partners from across the globe came together to support and participate with NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battle Group Latvia to increase cooperation, compatibility and interoperability in the event of a real-world fight against any foreign aggressors who would threaten Latvia’s boarders.”
The use of the plural in the word aggressors is disingenuous. NATO and the U.S. are training “allies and partners across the globe” for a “real-world fight” against only one alleged aggressor, Latvia’s neighbor Russia. The same country that the massive DefenderEurope war games are aimed at. (Though in both series of exercises Belarus will also be targeted as a “frontline state.”)
As regards the launching of the Crystal Arrow exercise on March 23, the NATO report waxed lively: “U.S. Abrams tanks joined German Leopard tanks to race across the open field marking the start of an eight-day exercise at the Ādaži military training area, Latvia….”
It would have to have been the very archetype of Cold War nightmare themes among Russians in the Soviet Union to see American and German tanks on their border. Now they’re right there. And not alone.
Overlapping with the ground exercise, NATO also held three-day naval drills off the coasts of Latvia and Estonia with half of NATO’s Standing Naval Forces, Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1) and Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1). NATO Standing Naval Forces are described by the bloc as “the core of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (Maritime)” which “provide constant high-readiness maritime capabilities that can quickly and effectively respond across the full spectrum of operations in support of any NATO operations.” The SNMG1 was led by the Canadian frigate HMCS Halifax.
By way of reminder, in the past twenty-two years NATO operations have included air and ground wars in Europe, Asia and Africa.
The SNMG1 and SNMCMG1 are permanently assigned to Northern and Western European waters, including the Baltic Sea, North Sea, Norwegian Sea “and their maritime approaches.” Russia borders the Norwegian Sea and the Baltic Sea with its Kaliningrad exclave where Russia has its Baltic Fleet.
The U.S. and NATO would desire nothing as much as detaching Kaliningrad (former German Königsberg) from Russia and evicting the Baltic Fleet – as it is supporting Ukraine’s claim to Crimea so as to evict Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. That dual objective accomplished, Russia is cut off from the West by water, the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
Through the incorporation of fourteen new Eastern European nations as members, and forty nations around the world as partners, in the last thirty years, NATO has transformed the Baltic and Black Seas into its military outposts. What separates the two seas is Ukraine, the final link in the military cordon the U.S. and NATO have solidified along Russia’s western border. What in former eras would have been known as a siege. With a naval blockade into the bargain.