The US Navy-led naval exercise Baltops has returned to its pre-Cold War roots.
31.5. 15:51 | Updated 16:36
Today The largest international naval exercise of the year in the Baltic Sea began on Sunday. The Baltic Operations exercise, or Baltops, is led by the Sixth Navy of the United States Navy.
Baltops is attended by 14 NATO countries as well as Finland and Sweden. There are 45 ships, 75 aircraft and as many as 7,000 soldiers involved.
The number of soldiers is now clearly higher than last year, when it was 4,000. Along with Baltops, the Swedish Navy is celebrating its 500th anniversary.
In Baltops practicing, among other things, landing operations, shooting, submarine control, air defense, and demining.
In addition to these traditional naval themes, more special things will be practiced at Baltops this year, such as rescue operations from a submarine. Since last year, space has been a new area of activity.
HS was told by the Navy’s headquarters that Uusimaa, a minesweeper on training training, the mining ship Purunpää and the Uusimaa Brigade’s readiness unit are from Finland. In addition, the Air Force operates flights from Finland.
This year Baltops is the most interesting since the hottest years of the Cold War. The war in Ukraine and the process of applying for NATO membership in Finland and Sweden have raised the profile of the exercise.
Baltops is an important flagship for NATO countries, but it is especially important for NATO’s aspiring partner countries, Finland and Sweden.
NATO countries have wanted to show their support for Finland on a broad front. This was already evident last week: Helsinki’s Hernesaari looked like a NATO warship when warships training with Finns were moored.
Three different naval visits from three different countries took place in Helsinki at the same time. There were a total of four warships from the United States, Germany and France on the quays. The view is not quite annual in Helsinki, although individual fleet visits are made to Hernesaari every year.
At the same time, south of the Gulf of Finland, there was a large American warship in Tallinn. The United States has clearly added visible presence in the Baltic Sea.
Baltops is an exceptionally traditional training event. Its long history is associated with strangeness, such as the fact that Russia has sometimes been involved in exercises. Today, Baltops mainly annoys Russia.
Baltops has its roots in the middle of the Cold War, when it was intended only for NATO members invited by the United States. In addition to the United States, the main participating countries were West Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and the United Kingdom.
The first joint naval exercise by the United States, West Germany, Denmark and Norway in the Baltic Sea was held in 1970, but the annual Baltops tradition is considered to have originated in 1972.
The United States has wanted Baltops to show first to the Soviet Union and later to Russia its naval power and commitment to the defense of Northern Europe.
At first Baltops’ main task was to practice defending the Danish straits to prevent the Soviet Baltic Fleet from entering the Atlantic in the event of war and the Soviet Northern Fleet from entering the Baltic Sea accordingly.
Baltops also practiced landing operations in West Germany and Denmark.
With the break-up of the Soviet Union and the disappearance of the traditional enemy, the nature of Baltops exercises changed. The visible change was that over the next couple of decades, Russia often participated in Baltops. More and more elements of crisis management were also included in the exercises.
The future NATO countries, the Baltic countries, also began to take part in Baltops. Finland has participated since 1993.
Russia ended its involvement in Baltops in 2012. Due to Russia’s aggressive policies, the nature of the exercise has now returned closer to its traditional Cold War role in practicing defense against the Russian threat.
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