The largest war game in Eastern Europe since the conclusion of the Cold War has begun in Poland, a NATO member and former Warsaw Pact country.
The move is further evidence of concern from the West and its allies about aggression from Moscow.
It will be a 10-day military exercise, featuring 31,000 troops and thousands of vehicles from 24 countries, and has been celebrated by NATO member nations weary of an ever-encroaching Russia.
The war gaming follows a mutual escalation of NATO and Russian troops in border regions and an expansion of the defense shield last month.
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has been particularly keen on keeping Russian President Vladimir Putin within his national boundaries.
“We do not seek to make Russia an enemy,” Carter said in May. “But make no mistake: We will defend our allies, the rules-based international order, and the positive future it affords us.”
“Moscow’s nuclear saber-rattling raises troubling questions about Russia’s leaders’ commitment to strategic stability, their respect for norms against the use of nuclear weapons, and whether they respect the profound caution that nuclear-age leaders showed with regard to brandishing nuclear weapons,” Carter said.
After the U.S. expanded the Romanian wing of the missile defense shield last month, Putin reacted with hostility.
“NATO fend us off with vague statements that this is no threat to Russia… That the whole project began as a preventive measure against Iran’s nuclear program. Where is that program now? It doesn’t exist,” Putin said, referencing the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal. Russia’s government and Iran are allies, particularly in the Syrian civil war. “We have been saying since the early 2000s that we will have to react somehow to your moves to undermine international security. No one is listening to us.”
Copyright 2016 U.S. News & World Report