The Baltic Sea has been quite crowded with military warships and aircraft this month, and to the observing eye, it could appear that a major war is being fought in the remote corner of Europe as NATO and Russia each conducted a series of drills and exercises.
The British Royal Navy announced that as NATO’s Baltic Operations (Baltops) begins its second week, its two hundred sailors aboard the Portsmouth-based frigate HMS Kent were “tested to the limit” even as aviators from Russia’s Baltic Fleet flexed their muscles in a display of aerial power.
The frigate, which is one of two Royal Navy warships that joined the more than two dozen vessels and a similar number of aircraft, traveled well over five hundred miles from the southern Baltic and around the Danish island of Bornholm, to the Latvian coastline during the exercises. Baltops, which is in its forty-ninth year, saw upwards of three thousand military personnel take part in the annual international test of naval and air power. As the exercise name suggests, the goal of Baltops is to test the ability of seventeen NATO and allied/partner nations to guarantee the freedom and security of nations with a Baltic coastline.