Germany to Triple Number of Soldiers in NATO Drills Near Russia – Reports
The German army will participate in military maneuvers to deter Russia in 2018 with some 12,000 servicemen, local media reported.
Thousands of German soldiers are expected to take part in the NATO exercises “Saber Slash”, “Flaming Thunder” and “Iron Wolf” on the alliance’s eastern and northern flank, the German magazine Focus reported.
The media source said that this year the German contingent with some 12,000 servicemen is three times larger than last year.
The reason for the military activation, according to the magazine, is Moscow’s “aggressive policy.”
The military maneuvers are supposed to send Russia a “clear signal” that any possible interference in the affairs of NATO countries would have “serious consequences.”
Some 90 million euros will be allocated from the German budget for this purpose despite previous reports saying that Germany lacked tanks and aircraft to fulfill its obligations to NATO.
Die Welt newspaper, citing a secret document from the German Defense Ministry, wrote that the reasons behind this situation are a lack of spare parts and high maintenance costs. In addition, the Bundeswehr lacks night vision devices, winter uniforms and bulletproof vests.
Over the past few years, the United States and NATO have been increasing their military build-up in Eastern Europe and the Baltic countries, citing the need for protection from alleged Russian aggression. Moscow has repeatedly stated that Russia has never planned to attack any NATO member state. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that NATO recognizes this but uses the pretext of alleged Russian aggression to deploy more equipment and battalions next to Russia’s borders.
In early February, Russia had deployed the Iskander ballistic missile systems in the Kaliningrad Region. Replying to criticism from the West, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow was not threatening anyone, but has the sovereign right to place weapons anywhere on its territory.
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