North European countries together with the United States started on Monday an air training exercise with almost 100 jets in the Arctic region near Russia, a joint cooperation move that came after Russia increased its military presence around European seas and skies.
The exercise based in Scandinavian countries Norway and Sweden in addition to Finland Finland with 4,000 personnel aimed to test security cooperation among the Arctic nations near by Russia which was perceived as number one military threat by the respective countries.
"The aim is to exercise and train units in the orchestration and conduct of complex air operations, in close relations to NATO partners,” Norwegian brig. gen. Jan Ove Rygg, heading the exercise, said in a statement.
The parties stated that the exercise, lasting from May 25 to June 5, had been planned before Russia’s annexation of Crimea and is one of the biggest fighter jet exercises after 2013.
NATO member states, the US, Norway, Germany, Britain, France, the Netherlands as well as non-NATO members Sweden, Finland and Switzerland are placed in the training exercise.
Russia is allegedly increasing its military activities in the Baltic and the Nordic region where its planes and submarines have been intercepted since the last year.
Russian incursions mostly into the Baltic airspace sparked the reaction of Eastern European countries whereas Sweden and Finland have been complaining from Russian assaults through submarines in their territorial waters.
Since Moscow annexed Crimea and gave its military and political support to the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics inside Ukraine, the relations between Russia and the US had undergone to the level of Cold War era.
For the current level of the relations, the Kremlin blames the US administration and NATO for the eastward enlargement further into the post-Soviet space, while the Euro-Atlantic alliance raised concerns over Moscow’s recent military presence towards Eastern Europe.
The US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have recently urged all parties to abide by the fragile ceasefire agreed in Minsk on Feb. 12 with auspices of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
But both Kiev forces and the pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass region have continued to sporadically violate the ceasefire which remarkably calmed down the tension between the parties.
As the relations soured with the West soon after Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and its alleged roles in eastern Ukraine crisis, Russia increased its military and economic ties with China which has also been accused of its offensive territorial claims in the South China Sea by the regional and Western allies.
Last week, Russia inaugurated a naval military drill with China in the Mediterranean for the first time in history in the western side of the world.
Russia-China joint military drill just came after NATO’s Operation Atlantic Resolve military drill across the European seas, with that the Euro-Atlantic alliance sends a political message to Russia over its alleged aggression and draws attention to the crisis in eastern Ukraine.