The United States and its Western partners have embarked on two simultaneous rounds of war games in Eastern Europe as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters its third month.
Swift Response 2022, an annual drill hosted by the US Army’s Europe and Africa component command, kicked off on Monday and is set to run until May 20. It will be carried out across locations in the Arctic High North, the Baltics, the Balkans and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, the Army said in a statement.
Around 9,000 soldiers – among them 2,700 Americans and 6,300 troops from 16 allied nations – will take part in the exercise. In addition to training for “arctic defense operations,” the servicemen will simulate airborne “Joint Forcible Entries” in Latvia, Lithuania and North Macedonia.
Poland, meanwhile, announced the start of the Defender Europe 2022 military drills on Sunday, noting they would take place May 1–27 in nine countries and will involve 18,000 soldiers from more than 20 nations.
“The troops’ ability to cooperate in a joint combat operation will be put to test using various training episodes including long-distance tactical marches, bridging rivers and live-fire training,” a statement from Warsaw said.
This year’s Defender Europe will be scaled back compared to prior iterations, as more than 30,000 soldiers from 27 nations participated in the drills in 2021. The previous year involved even more troops, and was reportedly one of the largest military exercises held on the continent since the Cold War.
Though Russia has repeatedly denounced such war games as aggressive posturing which “[simulate] offensive military action,” Poland claimed the Defender Europe exercise “demonstrates the United States’ unshakable commitment to NATO,” touting it as “a prime example of our collective capabilities.”