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NATO Tries To Send Message To Russia With Latvia Drills

NATO began a major military exercise in Latvia on September 6 in a sign of the military alliance's vow to defend its Baltic member states in the face of a more aggressive Russia.

On September 5, around 500 paratroopers arrived in Latvia along with hundreds of vehicles and aircraft for the drill.

The exercise, Steadfast Javelin II, simulates a deployment of NATO soldiers and equipment in another country in a crisis situation.

A NATO meeting in Wales on September 5 agreed to form a new rapid-reaction force and to step up exercises in eastern Europe in response to Russia's actions in Ukraine.

"Russia has ignored international law and defined itself as an aggressor," Latvian Defense Minister Raimonds Vejonis told local LTV television.

In total, 2,000 soldiers from nine nations are carrying out exercises across five countries -- Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland -- from September 2 to September 10.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP