• Mikhail Zakharov

"Defender Europe-2020"’s breakdown: large-scale NATO exercises may be disrupted by COVID-1

The NATO "Defender Europe-2020" maneuvers were supposed to be the largest military exercises in Europe over the last 25 years – and this is not an exaggeration. Almost 37,000 soldiers and officers from 18 countries were expected to take part, with about 20,000 of them from the United States alone. Germany was to be the main operational area, but part of the maneuvers were to be held on the territory of ten NATO States, including the Baltic States and Poland.

The maneuvers had to emphasize the willingness of the United States to protect European allies. "The purpose of Defender-Europe 20 is to build strategic readiness by deploying a combat credible force to Europe in support of NATO and the U.S. National Defense Strategy", said The United States European Command.[1] Nonetheless, Moscow did not agree with this point of view – at least because NATO allies were to work off the defending by NATO countries of the so-called "Suwalki Gap" between the Kaliningrad region and Belarus. The Alliance believes that in case of conflict, Russian troops could occupy this stretch of land, cutting off the Baltic States from the rest of the NATO members.