June 19, 2015 3:42 PM EDT

Thousands of NATO troops took part in a two-week exercise in Poland and the Baltic states, practicing sea landings, airlifts and assaults, the Associated Press reports.

The series of massive maneuvers, each with its own code name, took place on NATO’s eastern flank and in the Baltic Sea, where 5,000 troops from 17 NATO and partner nations took part in the maritime BALTOPS exercises. This year, the naval maneuvers took place without Russia.

Freelance photographer Amanda Rivkin was embedded with multi-national troops in Drawsko Pomorskie, a northwestern Polish town. “The big buzz word was interoperability,” she said, referring to NATO’s goal to show that its members can cooperate in the face of a potential crisis. “This is clearly being done as a show of force against Russia’s show of force in Crimea and in the Baltic,” she added.

Polish and Baltic state leaders have made it clear that they want to host large numbers of U.S. and NATO forces as a deterrent in the face of a resurgent Russia, the AP reports. “We must know how to defend ourselves. It is our goal to assure a stable order,” said Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyn

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