NATO launches its largest exercise since the Cold War!

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The dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall sails out of Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, beginning operations for Exercise Steadfast Defender

THE North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) has launched its largest military exercise since the Cold War, with a US warship leaving the United States for transit across the Atlantic to alliance territory in Europe.

NATO has said some 90,000 troops from the United States and other allied nations are due to join the Steadfast Defender 2024 drills that started on Wednesday and will run through May and span from North America to NATO’s eastern flank, close to the Russian border.
‘Steadfast Defender 2024 will be a clear demonstration of our unity, strength and determination to protect each other, our values and the rules-based international order,’ said General Christopher Cavoli, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe.
Cavoli stated that during the military exercise, the alliance will demonstrate its ability to reinforce the Euro-Atlantic area via trans-Atlantic movement of forces from North America, focusing on the threat as a ‘near-peer’ adversary.
The NATO military chief warns member states to be ready for the unexpected as the world power shifts.
The exercise is designed to simulate the 31-nation alliance’s response to an attack from a rival like Russia. While NATO did not directly name Russia as the target behind the drills, its top strategic document identifies Russia as the most significant and direct threat to NATO members’ security.
More than 50 ships, including aircraft carriers and destroyers, will take part in the war games, as well as more than 80 fighter jets, helicopters and drones and at least 1,100 combat vehicles, including 133 tanks and 533 infantry fighting vehicles.
‘Today launched its biggest military exercise since 1988 with 90,000 personnel taking part in drills across the North Atlantic and Europe,’ Matthias Eichenlaub, a NATO spokesperson, said on X platform, formerly Twitter.
#NATO today launched its biggest military exercise since 1988 with 90,000 personnel taking part in drills across the North Atlantic and Europe. The departure of the US Navy’s Gunston Hall from Norfolk marked the official start of #SteadfastDefender24.
During the second part of the Steadfast Defender exercise, a special focus will be on the deployment of NATO’s quick reaction force to Poland on the alliance’s eastern flank.
Other major locations of the drills will be the Baltic States, Germany, Norway and Romania, which are seen as most at risk from a potential Russian attack.
The exercise, the biggest since the 1988 Reforger drill during the Cold War, comes as NATO reinforce the defence of Europe after Russia’s military operation on Ukraine began in 2022.
Russia has reacted to the military drill, calling it an ‘irrevocable return’ of the alliance to Cold War schemes, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko told the state RIA news agency in remarks published on Sunday.
Since the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, NATO countries have sharply increased their military budgets. The countries have also been delivering billions of dollars worth of arms to Ukraine and have pledged to help Kiev militarily in its war against Moscow.

  • US President Joe Biden has urged Congress to approve ‘without delay’ the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey once Ankara completes the ratification process for Sweden’s NATO accession.

Turkey has effectively blocked Stockholm’s NATO bid for nearly two years, alleging that the Nordic country has housed some Turkish citizens deemed as terrorists by Ankara.
However, Stockholm gained support from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July after it clamped down on Kurdish groups regarded as terrorist outfits by Ankara. Furthermore, Turkish lawmakers on Tuesday ratified Sweden’s membership of NATO after frustrating delays that strained Sweden-Turkey relations.
On Wednesday, Biden had sent a letter to leaders of key Capitol Hill committees earlier in the day, informing them that he is willing to commence the formal notification process for the sale of Lockheed Martin F-16 jets to Turkey once Ankara completes Sweden’s NATO accession process.
In his letter to the top Republican and Democratic members of the Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees, the American president urged them to approve the $20 billion sale ‘without delay.’
American legislators had said they were awaiting Turkey’s approval of Sweden’s NATO membership before moving to approve the sale.
Separately on Wednesday, the US State Department also called on Ankara to formally finalise Sweden’s NATO ratification, which requires Erdogan’s signature. The department, however, did not provide an exact timeline on the formal notification process for the F-16 sale.
Back in October 2021, Ankara asked to buy $20 billion of F-16 fighters and some 80 modernisation kits for its existing warplanes.
NATO rules state that new members need all the 30 old members’ consent to join the Western military alliance.

  • The top Iranian and Russian security officials have called for the expansion of bilateral relations in different fields, among them the fight against terrorism.

During a meeting in Moscow, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Akbar Ahmadian and his Russian counterpart, Nikolai Patrushev, discussed a wide range of bilateral, regional and international issues, including security and defence ties between the two countries and Israel’s crimes in the Gaza Strip.
Patrushev condemned the terrorist bomb attacks in the Iranian city of Kerman that killed 95 people and injured hundreds of others on January 3.
He extended condolences to the Iran government and nation overt the bombings, which were carried out by the US-backed Daesh terrorist group near the burial site of Iran’s top anti-terror commander General Qassem Soleimani.
Daesh has claimed responsibility for two explosions that killed at least 84 people and wounded scores at a memorial for top anti-terror commander General Qassem Soleimani in the southeastern Iranian city of Kerman.
The Russian security chief also said a long-term cooperation agreement between Iran and Russia is being finalised, adding that the deal will enhance relations and outline the path for strategic cooperation.
‘Today, Moscow-Tehran ties are strengthening and upgrading to a new qualitative level in all fields,’ he added.
Ahmadian, for his part, appreciated Russia’s expression of sympathy over the Kerman carnage.
He also underlined the need for the continuation of Iran-Russia cooperation in the fight against terrorism, particularly in Syria.
Israel’s crimes against the oppressed Palestinian people, especially those in besieged Gaza, must stop, he asserted.
Israel has waged a genocidal war on the Gaza Strip on October 7 after the Palestinian Hamas resistance group carried out a historic operation against the occupying entity in retaliation for its intensified atrocities against the Palestinian people.
So far, the Tel Aviv regime has killed at least 25,490 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and injured 63,354 others.
Thousands more are also missing and presumed dead under the rubble in Gaza, which is under ‘complete siege’ by Israel.