Germany calls largest Nato airforce drills ‘defensive’


 

A military aircraft can be seen as Nato forces commence their military exercises in German Air Force-led exercise Air Defender 2023, on June 12, 2023. — Twitter/@NATO_AIRCOM
A military aircraft can be seen as Nato forces commence their military exercises in German Air Force-led exercise Air Defender 2023, on June 12, 2023. — Twitter/@NATO_AIRCOM

As the war in Ukraine intensifies with neither side intending to back down, Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz of the German Luftwaffe expressed the aim of the US-led Nato military aircraft drills, saying “we can defend ourselves”.

The Cold War-time Western military organisation commenced its largest airforce exercise — Air Defender 23 — in Europe Monday, portraying Russia as a potential threat to peace and security and showing coherence in the alliance.

The military drills will include 250 military jets from member countries of the Nato including Japan with Germany on the lead.

The exercises will run until June 23 and will also include the new bidder Sweden.

A total of 10,000 service members are set to participate in the drills which are aimed to show war preparedness and interoperability to protect against drones and cruise missiles in the case of any intrusion into Nato territory.

“The significant message we’re sending is that we can defend ourselves,” Lieutenant General Gerhartz said.

“Air Defender” was conceived in 2018 in part as a response to the Russian annexation of Crimea from Ukraine four years before, though Gerhartz insisted it was “not targeted at anyone”.

He maintained that the exercise would not “send any flights, for example, in the direction of Kaliningrad” — the Russian enclave bordering member states Poland and Lithuania.

“We are a defensive alliance and that is how this exercise is planned,” he said.

Luftwaffe spokesman confirmed to AFP that the first flights began in the late morning at the Wunstorf, Jagel and Lechfeld air bases.

In response to the drills, hundreds of protestors gathered at Wunstorf in northern Germany Saturday, under the banner “Practice peace — not war”. They also called for a “diplomatic solution” to Russia’s conflict with Ukraine and an immediate ceasefire.

Military jets can be seen during the Air Defender 23 Nato military drills on June 12, 2023. — Twitter/@NATO_AIRCOM
Military jets can be seen during the Air Defender 23 Nato military drills on June 12, 2023. — Twitter/@NATO_AIRCOM

The exercise would show “beyond a shadow of a doubt the agility and the swiftness of our allied force” and was intended to send a message to countries including Russia, said US Ambassador to Germany Amy Gutmann.

“I would be pretty surprised if any world leader was not taking note of what this shows in terms of the spirit of this alliance, which means the strength of this alliance, and that includes Putin,” she told journalists.

“By synchronising together, we multiply our force.”

Russia’s special military operation on Ukraine has reinvigorated the Western military alliance set up almost 75 years ago against the Soviet Union.

Finland and Sweden, which long kept an official veneer of neutrality to avoid conflict with Moscow, both sought membership in the US-led alliance — founded back in 1949 — after the operation started in February 2022.



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top