Huge military exercises are underway off and around Britain’s coast, but NATO insists they are not a deliberate response to the Russian military’s increasingly brazen behavior.
The British-led war games are code named Joint Warrior and the numbers are all big: 13,000 personnel from 14 countries operating more than 50 ships and submarines as well as 70 aircraft.
NATO says the planning started long before Russia renewed its status as the alliance’s chief adversary.
For more than a year NATO has been condemning Russia’s actions in Ukraine as well as its frequent, large scale, snap military drills and those long-range Bear bombers repeatedly flying very close to NATO airspace.
So, if Joint Warrior is not a deliberate response, it’s certainly a timely one.
CNN was invited to spend a day aboard one of the vessels taking part — the U.S. Navy’s guided missile cruiser USS Vicksburg. It’s the current flag ship of a standing NATO maritime group.
Commanding officer Rear Adm. Brad Williamson says Russia’s behavior is an added motivation to do well in these exercises.