Sweden will hold its largest military drill in 25 years, and the UK Royal Navy will join its Baltic sea exercise as a show of solidarity for its potential Nato accession.
The UK strongly supports Sweden’s accession to Nato and continues to operate closely with the Swedish Armed Forces as part of the British-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), which is designed to react to events in Europe’s many crucial waterways and chokepoints.
Some 26,000 troops and 14 nations are lined-up for the training across the Nordic nation and the Royal Navy will be at heart of it, carrying out amphibious exercises, led by amphibious flagship HMS Albion (an amphibious transport dock) and commandos, including Royal Marines from 45 Commando, as part of the high-readiness Littoral Response Group (LRG).
“Albion and the Littoral Response Group’s last period of operations took us north to Arctic Norway, where we participated in a significant JEF exercise,” said Captain Marcus Hember, commanding Officer of HMS Albion, in reference to the latest JEF exercise in the High North.
“Our next period of operations is going to take us to the Baltic, where again we’ll be exercising with allies and partners and demonstrating the UK and the Royal Navy’s commitment to Northern European security.
Locations of strategic importance
Following the Norwegian High North theatre, the JEF partners will continue to exercise their military interoperability in the Baltic sea.
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This north-eastern European region has become a theatre of critical strategic importance as the Russia-Ukraine war of attrition continues. It is a key strategic space where Nato and Russian military and economic interests overlap, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
“[The] United States, Nato, and their partners need to be ready to act in unity against an increasingly hostile Russia that is now trying to distract attention from its military shortcomings in Ukraine,” CSIS added.
Previous exercises allowed the UK and Sweden, and their JEF partners, to practice their interoperable capabilities and understand the challenges of these environments, such as the Norwegian fjords.
Sweden’s latest military exercise will no doubt provide some key strategic information regarding JEF and Nato operations in the region as it becomes increasingly important as the Russian Baltic fleet become a key strategic asset in its war against Ukraine.