UK sends largest Royal Navy presence to Baltic Sea in over 100 years

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Over 4,000 service personnel and 44 ships from seven different countries in the British-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) are taking part in the mission in Lithuania, close to Moscow’s exclave in Kaliningrad.

The exercise, which sees the largest presence of the royal navy in the Baltic Sea for more than a century, is the latest in a series by western forces in eastern and northern Europe and has drawn repeated accusations from the Kremlin of deliberate acts of provocation.

The UK is viewed as particularly keen to ensure a strong message is sent to Russia at a time when relations between the two countries are at their lowest ebb since the Cold War, following the chemical agent attack in Salisbury.

The JEF is not a NATO mission, with Sweden and Finland both non-members of the Alliance.

Its air, land and marine components can be deployed anywhere in the world but the focus for the foreseeable future would be the Baltic.

As well as Britain and Lithuania, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Finland and Sweden are taking part in Operation Baltic Protector.

The UK is also heading an international NATO battalion in Estonia and has deployed around 900 troops in this country.

Around 120 British troops with an Apache helicopter also took part in a separate international military land force exercise, Iron Wolf, which recently ended in Lithuania.

Via The Independent

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