Inside the biggest Nato military exercise to happen since the Cold War

Involving 90,000 troops and scheduled to go on to the end of May, it's the biggest such exercise since the Cold War, as ITV News Europe Editor James Mates reports from Norway

British forces are taking part in Nato's largest military exercise for decades off the coast of Norway.

The drills, which began on Sunday, come days after Sweden was officially welcomed into the alliance.

A total of 13 Nato members - including the United States plus new additions Finland and Sweden - are taking part in the exercise, which has been codenamed Steadfast Defender 24.

Collectively, up to 90,000 troops are involved, alongside more than 50 submarines, frigates, corvettes, aircraft carriers and amphibious vessels at sea.

One hundred plus combat, maritime surveillance and transport aircraft are also taking part.

Northern Troms county is where most of the Nato, also known as the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, activity will be centred as well as to the west of Finnmark county.

Additionally, there will be some maritime deployments along Norway's northern coastline.

Nato is conducting the exercise to show it is capable of defending all of its territory up to its borders with Russia.

UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps, who is conducting a two-day overseas visit to British forces participating in Steadfast Defender, said the exercise was important to send a "very, very clear message to [Vladimir] Putin and to anybody else that Nato is not about an expansionary approach".

'I am also very proud that the United Kingdom, despite there being 32 countries in Nato, are providing actually 19% of the overall personnel and 16,000 of the army personnel alone to this exercise,' Grant Shapps said

"We are never going to invade non-Nato countries," Mr Shapps told a Nato press conference in Poland, on Tuesday.

"We are about protection and it's about understanding that what we do is make sure that people can rely on Nato for that Article Five defence."

The defence secretary's trip will enable him to watch British forces participating in the exercise and announce new land and sea capabilities to bolster Nato's Eastern flank.

Sweden, earlier in March, officially became Nato's 32nd member, amid a surge in public support for joining the transatlantic alliance.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 prompted both Sweden and its Nordic neighbour Finland to end decades of neutrality and apply to become Nato members.

Russian President Putin believes Nato expansion, particularly towards Russia's borders, poses a direct threat to his country's security.

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