14:50 GMT +315 December 2018
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    Estonian soldiers take part in an annual military exercise together with several units from other NATO member states

    Estonia to Hold Largest-Ever Military Exercises in May

    © AFP 2018 / RAIGO PAJULA
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    TALLINN (Sputnik) - Estonia will hold its largest-ever military drills dubbed Siil 2018 (Hedgehog 2018) in May, the government press service said on Monday.

    The two-week military exercises, which are due to kick off on May 2, will engage over 13,000 troops, members of the Estonian Defence League, and servicemen from 13 countries, according to the statement. The drills are aimed at evaluating the capabilities of reservists and land forces personnel.

    Earlier on Monday, Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas visited the country's General Staff and received an overview of the drills, the statement added. He noted that that success of the upcoming military drills would depend on the efforts of a large number of people and particularly urged the reservists' families and employers to provide the necessary support. The previous Siil drills were held in 2015.

    Last month, several F-16 fighters of the US State of Ohio Air National Guard arrived at the Amari Air Base located southwest of the Estonian capital of Tallinn to take part in drills aimed at honing "the skills of large-scale air operations' conduction," according to chief of staff of the Estonian Air Force and acting commander.

    Earlier, the NATO Secretary General said that the alliance would maintain an increased military presence in the Baltic states and Eastern Europe, citing the alleged Russian threat as the main reason for the military buildup.


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