2022 NATO BALTOPS exercise begins in Baltic Sea

The annual NATO Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) military exercise will commence today in the Baltic Sea. One of the largest exercises

2022 NATO BALTOPS exercise

Ships are seen participating in the 2020 NATO BALTOPS exercise, the 2022 exercise begins today – Photo: US Navy

The annual NATO Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) military exercise will commence today in the Baltic Sea.

One of the largest exercises in Northern Europe, BALTOPS covers the full spectrum of naval warfare, including amphibious operations, mine clearance and unmanned underwater vehicles. This year’s iteration will feature 45 ships and over 7000 personnel from 14 NATO members and two NATO partners.

Hosted this year by Sweden, BALTOPS takes place amidst Sweden and Finland’s respective bids to join NATO. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine led the two Nordic nations to abandon their long-held neutrality and seek greater protection among the treaty organization’s 30 current members. The move agitated Russia, leading to fears of retaliation.

Sweden and Finland’s participation in BALTOPS evinces how the two states are already closely integrated with NATO, easing the logistical path of their accession. Yet, their admittance is not yet guaranteed—Turkey in particular has threatened their applications over perceived support for Kurdish militants, casting doubts about whether they’ll be admitted ahead of the upcoming NATO summit in Madrid. Still, expect Turkey to eventually acquiesce. The admittance of the two Nordic countries is one of the few united fronts Europe and NATO can show against Russia, a process that has proven difficult during attempts to establish sanctions.

Download the Daily Brief app to stay ahead of geopolitics with daily, short, forward-looking analysis of geopolitical events before they hit the headlines.