Finland: Fighter Jet Exercises Begin

From the New York Times:

One of Europe’s largest fighter jet exercises began Monday amid increasing military tensions in the Nordic and Baltic region. More than 100 aircraft and 4,000 people are participating in the two-week Arctic Challenge Exercise, which follows NATO submarine detection drills off the Norwegian coast this month. The aerial maneuvers, hosted by Norway, a NATO member, include American F-16 fighter jets and military aircraft from Britain, Germany and France, accompanying non-NATO members Finland and Sweden. Tensions have increased in the region since the Ukraine crisis. NATO is accusing Russian military aircraft of putting civilian flights at risk by bolstering the number of its military air patrols and having its planes fly with their transponders switched off.

In Show of Muscle, Russia Conducts Military Exercise in Country’s Northwest

From CNN.com:

Russian Military VehiclesYou flex your muscles and I’ll flex mine. Or so it seems to go in international relations these days.

Russia has deployed 12,000 troops along with numerous aircraft and weapons in a surprise military exercise in the country’s northwest — a show of strength that may be a response to a long-planned European military exercise led by Norway.

The Russian news agency Tass, quoting the country’s defense ministry, reported Monday that the exercise involves as many as 250 combat planes and helicopters and 689 units of “various weapons and military equipment.”

Cruise missiles will be aimed at an “imaginary enemy,” the report said.

The seemingly competing military exercises come as tension is increasing along a range of former Soviet states — from Moldova in the south to Latvia, 900 miles to the north — over whether they will fall under the influence of Russia or the West.

The EU and NATO eye these states as potential members, and indeed Latvia, for example, is already a member of both organizations. But Russia views that as a threat.

Part of that struggle has involved the Russian annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in 2014 and its encouragement of separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Read the full article here at CNN.com

Japan Joins US-Australian Military Exercise in July for First Time

From the Guardian News:

flag-of-japanJapanese troops will take part in a major US-Australian military exercise for the first time in July, as Washington looks to strengthen links among its allies in the face of an increasingly assertive China.

Japan’s ground self-defence force – its army – will send 40 personnel to participate in Talisman Sabre, a two-yearly drill that begins on 7 July, which will involve about 27,000 service men and women, a Japanese government spokesman said.

“We will participate in joint exercises with the US marines, rather than operating directly with the Australian military,” he said.

“But our participation is seen as part of efforts” to strengthen defence ties between Japan and Australia.

The drill, in two places near Rockhampton and Darwin, is intended “to improve tactical expertise in amphibian operations and to strengthen Japan-US interoperability”.

News of Japan’s participation came as tensions remain high in the region, with increasing criticism of China’s behaviour in the South China Sea, where it has accelerated building artificial islands in disputed waters.

The US is considering sending warships and surveillance aircraft within 12 nautical miles – the usual territorial zone around natural land – of the reclaimed reefs.

Such a deployment could lead to a standoff in a stretch of water traversed by vital global shipping lanes.

Read more of the article here

Russia to conduct joint military exercises with India, China in 2015

From the Moscow Times:

Russian land forces will join troops from China, India, Mongolia and Belarus in a series of joint military training exercises during the second half of this year, President Vladimir Putin’s office said Wednesday.

The announcement, issued as Putin met top Russian military brass in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, will stir unease in Western capitals, whose relations with Moscow have deteriorated sharply during the year-long Ukraine crisis.

Moscow has become especially keen to build closer economic and other ties with the Asian giants China and India since the United States and European Union imposed sanctions on Russia last year over its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean region.

The joint military training exercises will have a focus on peace-keeping and anti-terrorist activities, the statement said.

Training exercises are also planned with troops from member countries of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (ODKB), which includes Russia and several former Soviet republics such as Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.

Russia also plans a number of other training exercises for its armed forces this year, Wednesday’s statement said, part of efforts to counter what Moscow portrays as an aggressive, anti-Russian stance by NATO.

Read More of this article at the  Russia and India Report website

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