Russia and NATO Flex Muscles at Parallel Baltic War Games

Kacper Pempel / ReutersMarines from Polish submarine ORP SEP take the mooring rope during NATO Submarine Rescue Exercise Dynamic Monarch on Gdansk Bay, near Hel in the Baltic Sea.


Russia on Tuesday launched a military exercise in Kaliningrad in response to NATO drills across the border, amid Russian accusations that the alliance is escalating tensions.


The exercise in Russia's Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad involves units of the Baltic Sea Fleet, the Air Force and paratrooper forces, Russia's Defense Ministry said Tuesday in a statement on its website.


The ministry did not specify the exercise's name or expected duration, but stressed that the number of troops deployed matched those involved in NATO's Saber Strike 2014 and Baltops 2014 war games.


Some 4,700 NATO troops are participating in the fourth installment of the Saber Strike exercise being held in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.


No head count was given for the 42nd annual Baltops, or Baltic operations, naval drill, which also involves NATO non-members Sweden and Finland, but last year, it comprised more than 1,800 troops.


Russia was set to participate in the Baltops 2014, but the plan was torpedoed after NATO severed all cooperation with Moscow over tensions in Ukraine, where Russia and Western countries back opposing sides in a conflict simmering in the country's east.


Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov on Monday blasted NATO's increased activity in the Baltic and elsewhere on Russia's border, saying it “added tension to an already difficult situation,” and warning any further NATO expansion would have consequences.


"We will be forced to undertake all necessary political and military measures to reliably safeguard our security," Titov told Interfax in an interview Monday.