RT News – 2015-03-22 22:54:28
NATO Parades Tanks and US Flags
300 Meters from Russia’s Border
Drills For Me but Not for Thee:
NATO Launches War Games near Russian Border
(March 21, 2015) — Despite being quick to condemn Russian military manoeuvers, NATO is conducting wide-scale war games in the Baltic states and creating a “line of troops” across Eastern Europe. The US denies a double standard, but records and transcripts suggest otherwise.
Thousands of US troops and hundreds of tanks have poured into Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in the past two months as part of an operation dubbed “Atlantic Resolve.” In February, 140 NATO vehicles and 1400 troops swept through Narva, a mere 300 meters from the Russian border.
“As you connect countries, there is almost a line of US troops,” Defense News quoted Col. Michael Foster of the 173rd Airborne Brigade on March 2 as saying. US forces have previously held joint war games with Baltic nations, with names such as “Saber Strike,” “Spring Storm” and “Flaming Sword.”
When asked why the US was condemning Russian exercises inside Russia, State Department press official Jeff Rathke told RT no such statement had ever been made.
While the US has not criticized every military drill conducted by the Kremlin, last August State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Russia’s aviation exercises are “provocative and only serve to escalate tensions.”
Just last week, Washington pushed Vietnam to prevent Russian aircraft from refueling there.
“We have urged Vietnamese officials to ensure that Russia is not able to use its access to Cam Ranh Bay to conduct activities that could raise tensions in the region,” one State Department official told Reuters, on the condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, in the first three weeks of February, the US Navy flew its latest surveillance aircraft from bases in the Philippines over disputed islands in the South China Sea. The P-8 Poseidon is equipped with the latest sensors and electronics in the US Navy arsenal, and can “pack a serious punch,” according to one US military analyst.
“Wouldn’t US and NATO maneuvers on Russian borders, at a time when the West and Russia are at odds over the crisis in Ukraine, also “raise tensions?” asked AP diplomatic correspondent Matt Lee.
“We would disagree with that,” replied Rathke.
Some, however, found the assertion unconvincing.
“It’s a shocking level of hypocrisy, double standards, doublespeak,” Brian Becker of the ANSWER coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) told RT.
Russia announced a massive surprise military drill earlier this week, putting forces all over the country on high alert and conducting exercises in the Baltic Sea, Black Sea, the Arctic and the Far East. The ongoing snap check of the military involves about 76,000 troops, over 10,000 vehicles, 65 warships, 16 support vessels, 15 submarines, 200 warplanes and helicopters.
US Mission to NATO Verified account â€@USNATO
Operation Atlantic Resolve: http://goo.gl/BmXbgr |
Updated factsheet: http://goo.gl/blVPZK #AlliedStrong
U.S. Dept of Defense, Marine Forces Eur_Af, Naval Forces Europe
Over 100 US Armored Vehicles Roll into Latvia,
NATO Flexes Muscles in Europe
(March 11, 2015) — Latvia has confirmed more than 120 armored units, including tanks, have been delivered by the US. According to the Latvian Ministry of Defense, these include M1A2 Abrams tanks and M2A3 Bradley armored vehicles.
The move to deploy yet more tanks and armored vehicles was welcomed by Latvian Minister of Defense Raymond Vejonis. “The presence of our allies (US and NATO) in Latvia is a confirmation of solidarity and security in the region,” Vejonis said in a statement on Twitter.
The tanks were delivered to Latvia via Riga Freeport after being offloaded from the carrier ship Liberty Promise on Monday. US Army General John O’Conner who witnessed the tanks arriving on Latvian soil said, “Freedom must be fought for, freedom must be defended,” as reported by the US Embassy Riga Twitter feed.
He also added their delivery would “demonstrate resolve to President Putin and Russia that collectively we can come together,” while General O’Connor also mentioned, they would stay “for as long as required to deter Russian aggression,” as reported by AFP.
Following the secession of Crimea to Russia, the US has been keen to boost its presence in the Baltic States and Poland to help guard against â€˜perceived’ Russian aggression. There are currently more than 150 American troops in Latvia.
On March 6, NATO forces carried out drills with their Latvian counterparts. As part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, Canadian and American soldiers, in cooperation with their Latvian partners conducted exercises in winter conditions. These included training to spot enemy positions as well as calling in indirect fire support. They took place at the Adazi training grounds.
Similar drills also took place in Poland. Live-fire training exercises were conducted at Drawsko Pomorskie in the north of the country, while troops from Poland’s 12th Mechanized Division were also involved.
The â€˜temporary’ deployment of US troops in Poland and the Baltic states has been extended through to 2015, which was confirmed by a spokesman for the US Embassy in Poland.
A 1997 Russia-NATO agreement forbids the alliance from having troops permanently stationed in the Baltic States, so the deployment remains a temporary mission. However, it’s not immediately clear when, if ever, NATO would consider the â€˜perceived’ threat of Russian aggression is no longer valid and would withdraw the troops. Drills incorporated into Operation Atlantic Resolve have been taking place since April 2014.
The US is keen to expand the operation from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Romania and Bulgaria have already joined to create a â€˜southern’ flank, while Hungary, the Czech Republic and Georgia could also agree to take part, according to a US Army official spearheading the effort.
“So by the end of the summer, you could very well see an operation that stretches from the Baltics all the way down to the Black Sea,” said Colonel Michael Foster, of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, which is based in Italy. “As you connect countries, there is almost a line of US troops,” as cited by Defense News on March 2.
Russian Deputy defense Minister Anatoly Antonov says Allied forces are ignoring diplomacy and NATO is using the situation in Ukraine to push closer to Russia’s border. However, he dismissed drills being carried out in the Baltic States, Poland and the Black Sea were a threat to Russia.
“Instead of uniting forces to fight evil, the worst of which is terrorism, Western nations are drawing new divisive lines, trying to realize containment schemes against unwelcome states. Today, Russia has been chosen as the target,” Antonov said on March 5.
He cited another example of a NATO military parade on February 24, held just 300 meters from the Russian border, in the Estonian town of Narva. About 140 pieces of armor and 10 times as many troops, including US soldiers, took part in that event.
Moscow saw it as a stab in its direction, but Estonia defended its right to host a parade, saying it can move military whichever way it likes on its territory – the same argument used by Russia when accused of military build-up along its borders.
A freight train carrying a whole column of American armored vehicles was caught on camera in Latvia in December. Dalbe Railway Station, where the train was reportedly spotted, is less than 300 kilometers from the Russian border.
The train was carrying at least 38 vehicles and several semitrailers, including eight Bradley Fighting Vehicles, nine M113 Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs), four petrol tankers, Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks (HEMTTs), High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs), an M88 Hercules Armory recovery vehicle, a couple of trucks, some tactical engineering and medical vehicles, at least four containers and a pair of railcars with ammunition.
NATO are not only bringing their own tanks and armored vehicles to the Baltic States. They are also pushing Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to purchase weapons from richer allies.
Estonia recently negotiated the acquisition of the $55-million Javelin anti-tank missile system. It has also signed what’s been described as “the largest procurement contract ever” for purchasing 44 infantry combat vehicles worth â‚¬138 million ($154 million) from the Netherlands.
Latvia is splashing out more than â‚¬54 million ($60 million) on a package that includes 123 British combat vehicles. Lithuania bought a â‚¬34-million ($38 million) GROM air defense system from Poland in September.
US Armor Paraded 300 Meters from Russian Border
(February 26, 2015) — NATO member Estonia has held a military parade in border town of Narva, just 300 meters from the Russian border. Tallinn is a long-time critic of Moscow, which it accuses of having an aggressive policy towards the Baltic nation.
Tuesday’s military parade was dedicated to Estonia’s Independence Day. Chief military commander Lt. Gen. Riho Terras headed the troops as President Toomas Hendrik Ilves reviewed them.
Over 140 pieces of NATO military hardware took part in the parade, including four US armored personnel carriers M1126 Stryker flying stars-and-stripes. Another foreign nation, the Netherlands, provided four Swedish-made Stridsfordon 90 tracked combat vehicles (designated CV9035NL Mk III by the Dutch).
Estonia also showed off its own howitzers, anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, armored vehicles and other hardware. Over 1,400 troops also marched the streets of Narva.
The parade is an obvious snub at Estonia’s eastern neighbor Russia, whom it accuses of pushing aggressive policies in Eastern Europe. The Estonian government is among several vocally accusing Russia of waging a secret war against Ukraine by supplying arms and troops to anti-Kiev forces in the east.
Moscow denies the accusations, insisting that the post-coup government in Kiev alienated its own people in the east and started a civil war instead of resolving the differences through dialogue.
NATO seized the Ukrainian conflict as an opportunity to argue for a military build-up in Eastern Europe, supposedly to deter a Russian aggression. The three Baltic States are among the most vocal proponents of this policy.
Russia sees it as yet another proof that NATO is an anti-Russian military bloc that had been enlarging towards Russia’s border and compromised its national security.
The Estonian government defended its right to hold whatever military maneuvers it wants in its territory.
“Narva is a part of NATO no less than New York or Istanbul, and NATO defends every square meter of its territory,” Estonian Prime Minister Taavi RÃµivas said in a speech in capital, Tallinn.
Historically Narva was a point of centuries of confrontation between Russia and Sweden, when the two nations fought for dominance in the region. The city changed hands several times and ended up under Russian control in 1704, serving as a military outpost for decades.
The city was again contested in the wake of the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 and the dissolution of the Russian Empire it triggered. Narva took turns between being governed by the self-proclaimed Estonian Republic, occupying German troops and the Red Army until eventually becoming Estonian again under a peace treaty between Estonia and Russia.
It then changed hands between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union along with the rest of the Baltics during World War II and went on to be part of an independent Estonia in 1991.
The city has a large number of ethnic Russians and a strong pro-autonomy movement, with some Estonian politicians fearing that it could be exploited now by Russia to saw dissent. Commenting on the issue in an interview with Washington Post, President Ilves said seeing Narva as a potentially separatist region “is stupid.”
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