Suwalki gap: NATO troops drill to defend weak spot

British army soldiers take part in Suwalki gap defence exercise in Mikyciai, Lithuania, June 17, 2017. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

Last weekend U.S. and British troops carried out the first large-scale NATO defensive drill on the border between Poland and Lithuania.

The frontier runs for over 100 km in an area known as the Suwalki Corridor. One can see on the map that the line connects Belarus and Russia’s Kaliningrad region.

According to the legend of the game, Russia was attempting to cut Latvia, Lithuania off the rest of the alliance by seizing the Suwalki Gap.

Russia denies any plans to invade the Baltics, and says it is NATO that is threatening stability in Eastern Europe by building up its military presence there and staging such war games.

U.S. military convoy going to Suwalki. 17 June 2017. Photo by Ints Kalnins / Reuters.

U.S. Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, who commands U.S. forces in Europe, says that the attack is ‘not inevitable’ but admits the Suwalki’s corridor being vulnerable.

“We have to practice, we have to demonstrate that we can support allies in keeping (the Gap) open, in maintaining that connection,” he told Reuters.

1,500 troops took part in the exercises. However, the Lithuanian side anticipated that it would take more to defend the gap in case of Russia’s aggression. Poland is also for using more NATO troops to secure the gap., via Reuters

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