Dutch to conduct Patriot missile drills near Russian border

The Dutch air defense unit will conduct a NATO “readiness” exercise in Lithuania

The Netherlands will send a Patriot air defense unit to NATO ally Lithuania as part of a summer joint air defense training, the Dutch Defense Ministry announced this week.
The several-week exercise is important to strengthen air defenses on the eastern flank, the Dutch military said in a press release on Thursday. The goal is to test the ability of NATO troops to quickly transport and deploy air defenses within a deployment area. The decision to deploy the US-made system near the Russian border “contributes to the readiness of NATO air defense,” Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren said in the release.
Lithuania welcomed the training as excellent news, noting the Dutch will be practicing no-notice redeployment of air defense units alongside the Lithuanian armed forces. The US-led military bloc’s Enhanced Forward Presence forces are “vital for the Baltic states’ security,” Defense Minister Laurynas Kasciunas said on Friday, calling for more deployments and exercises of NATO aircraft and ground-based air defense systems to Lithuania.

It’s unclear to what extent the Dutch Patriot deployment in Lithuania will extend. A single battery of the Patriot air defense system consists of multiple truck-mounted units, including power, radar, antenna, engagement control and other support vehicles, as well as up to eight launchers with interceptor missiles.
The Netherlands has been one of the few countries to supply two of their Patriot launchers to Ukraine, along with the US and Germany who each sent a full battery.
The deployment will follow NATO’s ongoing biggest military exercise in decades, Steadfast Defender 2024, which features some 90,000 troops, more than a thousand combat vehicles, over 50 naval vessels, 80 helicopters, drones and fighter jets from all 32 member states.

Russia has stated the US-led military bloc’s increased military spending and ramping military drills demonstrate its “increasingly aggressive nature.” The drills are practicing a “scenario of armed confrontation with Russia,” increasing tensions and destabilizing the situation in the world, the Russian Security Council secretary Nikolay Patrushev said early in March.
Patrushev described NATO as “an important tool of Washington’s influence on other countries,” which, over the 75 years of its existence as a stated guarantor of peace and democracy “unleashed more than a hundred wars and military conflicts around the world and is getting ready for more.”