The formal goal of the major exercise, encompassing 6,000 personnel, 50 vessels and 60 aircraft, is to demonstrate the willingness to defend the Baltic states against a Russian aggression. Perhaps surprisingly for many, Russia's ambassador to Denmark Mikhail Vanin dispelled the anxiety that is continuously instilled among ordinary Danes.
"He [Clemmesen] is dead wrong. Russia will not venture anything aggressive. We will not dramatize the exercise, but instead keep an eye on it. However, we do not think that the exercise is wise. It is a provocation, and Denmark should have refrained from participating in this anti-Russian show," the Russian ambassador told Berlingske.
"I am very disappointed with such a prediction, and I totally disagree. There are way too many pensioned generals, who write about politics. <…> It is very unclever and provocative ideas they spread in the public," the Russian ambassador said.
"The generals are still living in the Cold War era, and their blood circulates faster when they think back of the war. Just take your [Danish] former Foreign Minister Uffe Ellemann-Jensen. He always seems so happy when he gets to talk about Russia's aggression. He is young, vigorous and enthusiastic when he talks about the Cold War," Mikhail Vanin commented sarcastically.
"Should it ever come to a war, it would not be just a conflict, but a war for total eradication. It will be the end, and nobody wants that. We are not the Soviet Union, we are not the Bolsheviks, we do not want to exterminate anyone. We think in a completely different way. But obviously we have our interests and desires and expect respect," the ambassador said.
From Russia's perspective, however, there may hardly arise any debate on who is provoking whom in the Baltic Sea. NATO's triple military exercises in the Baltic Sea region, numbering a total of 40,000 soldiers, serve as a perfect proof. Objectively speaking, NATO had only twelve members in 1991, nut now has swelled up to 28.
"I have worked with NATO for many years and know of personal experience that NATO badly needs an enemy, a powerful enemy like Russia. Now, NATO has a mission and I think it will take long," former Lieutenant General Yevgeny Buzhinsky, chairman of the independent PIR think-tank told the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. "NATO has been looking for a strong enemy for 25 years, and now they have found one in Russia," he said.
Denmark's contribution is the support ship Absalon with a crew of 113 men, a minesweeping unit, currently on board a German vessel, a transport ship and a Bornholm-based navigation unit.