NATO has launched its biggest military exercise since 2002 involving 36,000 soldiers from at least 30 allied and partner nations to increase preparedness against the backdrop of the Ukraine crisis.
The Trident Juncture 2015 exercise started on September 28 and will continue until November 6. Italy, Portugal, Spain, the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea and Canada, Norway, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands will be taking part in the exercise, the NATO Allied Joint Force Command announced on its web site.
"Trident Juncture 2015 will demonstrate NATO’s new increased level of ambition in joint modern warfare and will show-case a capable, forward-leading Alliance equipped with the appropriate capability and capacity to meet present and future security challenges." the command center said.
— US Mission to NATO (@USNATO) 2 Ekim 2015
At least 12 major International Organizations, non-governmental organisations and aid agencies - such as the EU and AU - will also join the military programme.
The long range exercise has become crucial following Russian President Putin’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and fighting by pro-Russian against Ukraine's government around the main cities in the southeastern part of the country.
In response to Russia's involvement in Ukranie NATO has also sent troops to east European member states in the Baltic and Poland which are concerned about the threat posed by a resurgent Russia.
However, NATO has stressed that its military exercises are not targeted at any country.
Despite this, Russia has also begun a range of large scale military drills addressed at what it sees as growing security threats on its western and south border.