11:02 GMT +318 June 2018
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    Estonian soldiers take part in an annual military exercise together with several units from other NATO member states

    Defense Ministry: Over 2,000 Estonian Soldiers Deployed to Saber Strike Drills

    © AFP 2018 / RAIGO PAJULA
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    According to the US Department of Defense, the Saber Strike 2018, which started on Sunday, will continue until June 15 in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. About 18,000 servicemen representing 19 states are participating in the drills.

    Meanwhile, more than 2,000 Estonian soldiers are participating in the ongoing 2018 NATO Saber Strike that are held in several Eastern European countries, Estonia’s Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.

    "Over 2,000 Estonian servicemen from the 1st infantry brigade of the Defence Forces as well as the servicemen from the United States, the United Kingdom and Finland, which is not a member of NATO," the ministry said.

    The drills are divided into three stages and are designed to improve joint operational capability in a variety of missions and prepare the participating nations and units for future operations, according to the statement.

    As the military maneuvers are taking place near Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that the Russian authorities have been monitoring the drills.

    "Moscow watches closely all the maneuvers held within the NATO framework, especially the ones that at some point are held near our borders," Peskov told reporters answering a question if Moscow was concerned over the Saber Strike 2018 multinational exercise held by NATO.

    The Kremlin official added that the relevant Russian agencies exert efforts to ensure the protection of the nation against the backdrop of the NATO steps.

    NATO has significantly increased its presence in Eastern Europe after the eruption of the Ukrainian crisis in 2014, using the alleged Russian interference in Ukrainian internal affairs as a pretext. Moscow has repeatedly voiced its protest over NATO's military buildup, saying that it will undermine regional stability and result in a new arms race.

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    Tags:
    maneuvers, soldiers, drills, Saber Strike 2018, Poland, lithuania, Latvia, Estonia
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