TALLINN, May 23 (RIA Novosti) – Large-scale NATO military exercises in Estonia that included over 6,000 servicemen from eight NATO member countries drew to a close on Friday, the commander of the country’s General Headquarters said.
“For the first time in history, NATO had evaluated our exercises so high that it added maneuvers Steadfast Javelin,” Maj. Gen. Riho Terras said while speaking at the closing ceremony.
According to Terras, the exercises demonstrated the collective self-defense skills of over 6,000 NATO troops.
The drills, which became the largest in Estonia’s history, were launched on May 5. Spring Storm has been held annually in different parts of Estonia since 2003. Estonia, as well as two other ex-Soviet republics in the Baltic Region, Latvia and Lithuania, joined NATO in March 2004.
The Estonian mine-hunter Admiral Cowen recently participated in NATO’s Open Spirit drills that kicked off in Latvia on May 9. Twenty-six vessels from 14 NATO countries participated in the exercises.
This year’s Spring Storm involved a record number of military units of NATO allies, including infantry from the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, soldiers from Latvia, troops from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team of the US army, as well as military personnel from Lithuania. In addition, three Polish Sukhoi Su-22 attack aircraft took part in the drills. The exercise also involved air defense personnel from Belgium and a group of French cyber defense experts.