(Tony Sifert, Headline USA) NATO has escalated tensions in eastern Europe by engaging in U.S. and Estonian-led war games near the Russian border, along with Ukraine and new treaty applicants Finland and Sweden, according to a report in Newsweek.
The warlike display will gather about 15,000 troops from 10 countries as a show of strength as Russia’s incursion into Ukraine continues.
Major General Veiko-Vello Palm, deputy commander of the Estonian Defence Forces, told reporters that the exercises were planned well in advance of Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine, but that “nuances” have been added as a result.
“We have been planning for this exercise for years,” General Palm said. “But, of course, there are certain small nuances that have changed, and definitely there are more allies than originally was planned.”
One of those nuances is that Russian observers will no longer be in attendance.
“Russian personnel . . . will not be attending the 2022 Hedgehog drill as observers as they have done for past iterations of the war games,” Newsweek reported.
The participation of Finland and Sweden takes on special significance in light recent applications by both nations to join NATO.
While U.S. President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken imprudently have acted as if the admission of Finland and Sweden into NATO is a done deal, the New York Times reported that Turkey has thrown a wrench into the works.
“On Wednesday, a meeting of NATO ambassadors could not reach consensus on a first vote to proceed with the requests for membership because Turkey said it first wanted NATO to address its security concerns,” the Times reported.
Turkey’s action has led warmongering talking-heads to call for the country to be expelled from NATO.
“Why the hell is any autocracy run by Erdogan still in NATO,” NBC’s Joe Scarborough wrote on Twitter. “We’ll take the trade — Sweden and Finland for Turkey.”