American forces have entered Lithuanian territories ahead of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)’s annual military exercises in the Baltic states.
Convoys of American and NATO military vehicles performed the “Dragoon Ride II” tactical march Monday, which is designed to “demonstrate NATO forces’ freedom of movement along NATO interior lines.”
The video shows Stryker M1126 Infantry Carriers and M1128 Mobile Gun Systems equipped with 105mm cannons rumbling through the streets of Lithuanian cities, while being accompanied by a motorcade of Humvees.
According to the Lithuanian Defense Ministry, military columns of 10 to 20 vehicles moved along the route from the city of Kalvarija to the city of Panevezys, before being put on display near a shopping mall where American soldiers showed their equipment to spectators.
The US Army describes the Dragoon Ride II as a “2,200-kilometer [1,370-mile] tactical road march from the town of Vilseck, Germany to Estonia.”
Featuring 1,400 soldiers and 400 vehicles, the ongoing march started on May 27 and will continue until June 15, as part of the “Saber Strike 16,” a US-led multinational exercise in the Baltic states – Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania – conducted from May 30 to June 22.
The exercises will see around 10,000 troops from 13 NATO countries and some other non-NATO nations perform military operations near Russia borders.
Russia does not look favorably upon the increased presence of NATO troops close to its borders and has pledged to respond accordingly to any threats posed by the alliance.
Russia’s Ambassador to NATO Alexander Grushko said on Friday that NATO’s plan for more deployments in Poland and the Baltic states “changes the regional situation in the sphere of security qualitatively.”
Such a move, he said, will “surely require not only a political response but also the appropriate military precautions.”
NATO has stepped up its military build-up near Russia’s borders since it suspended all ties with Moscow in April 2014 after the Black Sea Crimean Peninsula re-integrated into the Russian Federation following a referendum.