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'Defender Europe 2023' exercise kicks off in Kosovo

Led by the U.S., with thousands of NATO troops and partners

21 May, 17:52
(ANSA) - PRISTINA, 21 MAG - In Pristina today took place the opening ceremony of 'Defender Europe 2023,' a vast multinational military exercise spearheaded by the United States and in which 7,000 U.S. military personnel and another 17,000 soldiers from 25 mostly NATO countries, including Italy, will participate until June 2. Kosovo - present with 1,300 men of its Security Force - is this year's host country for the exercise scheduled to take place in several European countries, from Slovenia to Albania to northern Macedonia. Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani, Prime Minister Albin Kurti, Defense Minister Arben Mehaj, and U.S. Ambassador to Pristina Jeffrey Hovenier spoke at the opening ceremony-which began with the national anthems of the U.S. and Kosovo. "As we witness the terrible consequences of the war unleashed by Putin in Ukraine, this exercise takes on great significance," said the U.S. ambassador, for whom it is an initiative to strengthen the interaction between the U.S. and allied countries in order to protect the European continent from the risks of possible aggression. The aim is also to improve interoperability between the Armed Forces of the various European countries. Premier Kurti, pointing out that the Kosovo Security Force ranks fourth among all participating countries in terms of number of committed personnel, said the security of Europe is a vital interest of Kosovo. 'Defender Europe 2023,' he noted, is being held in a very tense reality, 15 months after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In Kosovo, he pointed out, the theater of operations will be Gjakova airport and Boka locality.


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