07:21 GMT25 February 2021
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    Saber Strike 18 drills will kick off in Poland and the Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, with over 18,000 soldiers from 19 countries participating in the event. It will also be the first time such large-scale military drills are conducted in the region.

    According to the Haaretz news outlet, Israel will take part in the Saber Strike 18 drills, marking the first-ever joint military exercises of the country with NATO forces.

    Israel is sending a few dozen soldiers, who are set to partake in the second, less extensive stage of the drills.

    READ MORE: NATO Won't Help Israel in Case of Attack by Iran — Stoltenberg

    The US Army Europe stated Sunday that the exercises are "a demonstration of the commitment and solidarity of the Alliance." It underlined, however, that Saber Strike 18 "is not a provocation of Russia."

    Previously, Die Welt newspaper reported, citing diplomatic sources in Brussels, that the alliance had planned to set up a 30,000-strong reserve force in Europe, plus hundreds of fighter aircraft and ships ready for rapid deployment in the event of an imaginary attack by Russia. Moscow has denied plans to attack any NATO member, stressing that the "Russian menace" is just a cover for further militarization and fomenting a conflict on Russia's borders.

    NATO has been boosting its military presence in Eastern European states, since the outbreak of the Ukrainian crisis, citing Russia's alleged interference in that conflict as a justification for the move. Moscow has repeatedly rejected those allegations, stressing that it is NATO's actions at the Russian border that are destabilizing.


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