In Europe - East, Russia

Press TV, Jan 12, 2017  (additional reporting from RT.com further below)

Around 3,500 U.S. troops have arrived in Poland, one of the largest deployments of U.S. forces in Europe since the end of the Cold War in 1991, sparking immediate anger from Russia.

American military forces crossing into Poland from Germany on Jan 12, 2017 (AFP)

The contingent of U.S. troops, which arrived in Poland from Germany on January 12 along with hundreds of military vehicles, is part of a larger NATO operation to “deter Russian aggression”. The American troops will spend about one month training in Poland before moving to other NATO member states in Eastern Europe for additional training exercises.

The Pentagon operation, dubbed Atlantic Resolve mission, will involve an armored brigade and heavy equipment deployed in Poland and nearby NATO partners Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania on a rotational basis.

Outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama ordered the deployment in 2014 to reassure NATO allies in Eastern Europe after Russia’s alleged intervention in Ukraine’s crisis.

But the mission comes a week ahead of the inauguration of incoming U.S. President Donald Trump, who has called for closer ties with Russia, despite recent allegations of Moscow’s meddling in the U.S. presidential election.

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said the NATO operation threatens Russia’s “interests and our security.”

“This is even more pronounced when a third party (the United States) reinforces its military presence on our doorstep in Europe,” he added.

Alexei Meshkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, said the deployment is a “factor destabilizing European security.”

The U.S. and its allies have been at odds with Moscow since Ukraine’s strategic Black Sea peninsula of Crimea rejoined Russia following a referendum in March 2014.

Since then, the European Union, the U.S. and some other Western countries have imposed several rounds of sanctions against Russia. NATO also cut ties with Moscow in 2014 and started to deploy troops and weaponry to Baltic States—Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia—near Russia.

Ties between the U.S. and Russia further deteriorated when Moscow last year launched an air offensive against Daesh terrorists in Syria, many of whom were initially trained by the CIA to fight against the Syrian government.


Hundreds of U.S. tanks, heavy equipment flow into eastern Europe in buildup against Russia

RT.com, Jan 6, 2017

Hundreds of American tanks, trucks and other military equipment have arrived at the German port of Bremerhaven to be transferred to Eastern Europe as part of NATO’s buildup near Russia’s borders.

The Resolve cargo ship arrived on Wednesday, January 4, while two more vessels – Freedom and Endurance – are expected in Germany on Sunday, Deutsche Welle reported. The unloading of the ships began on Friday, with the heavy equipment to be transported to Poland via rail and road.

The U.S. plans to deliverer a total of 87 Abrams M1A1 tanks, 20 Paladin artillery vehicles and 136 Bradley fighting vehicles to Eastern Europe, according to Reuters. Four thousand American troops will reportedly be spread across Poland, the Baltic States, Bulgaria and Romania where they’ll remain on rotation basis.

Polish and U.S. troops are scheduled to hold joint “massing” drills in Poland later this month, which NATO says is aimed at reassuring its European allies in the face of what it calls aggressive Russian behavior.

The 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, with 50 Black Hawk helicopters, 10 CH-47 Chinook helicopters and 1,800 personnel, as well as a separate aviation battalion with 400 troops and 24 Apache helicopters are also scheduled for deployment in Eastern Europe.

“The best way to maintain the peace is through preparation,” U.S. Major General Timothy McGuire explained, adding that the deployment is about “just showing the strength and cohesion of the alliance and the U.S. commitment to maintain the peace on the continent.”

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will host troops from Germany, Canada and the UK, with each nation sending up to 1,000 servicemen.

NATO calls it military buildup near Russia’s borders a defensive measure, claiming it is justified after Moscow’s reunion with Crimea in 2014 and its alleged involvement in the Ukrainian crisis. Russia views the military bloc’s actions aggressive and said the massive military is undermining the security balance on the European continent.

In November 2016, the Pentagon shipped more than 600 containers of ammunition for Army and Air Force units in Europe, according to Military.com, marking the largest single shipment of U.S. ammunition in more than two decades, the website reported.

Moscow has responded by stationing its most modern weaponry and armaments on its western borders, including the enclave region of Kaliningrad, and staging large-scale military drills on its own territory.

Washington opted to speed up the deployment of its troops to Eastern Europe after Donald Trump’s win in the presidential election.

Trump, who is to be inaugurated on January 20, has been calling for improved relations with Russia and has voiced skepticism towards NATO, saying European powers would have to contribute a bigger part of the budget if they wanted to continue relying on U.S. protection.

Related news:
Lithuania confirms presence of U.S. special forces as a ‘deterrence against Russian aggression’
, RT.com, Jan 5, 2017

‘No one in Russia plans to attack NATO’ – U.S. permanent representative to NATO, RT.com, Dec 19, 2016

Russia, terrorists & China threaten world order, U.S.  is ‘ready to engage’, James Mattis tells defense secretary confirmation hearing in Washington, RT.com, Jan 12, 2017

U.S. tanks, troops move into Poland as Kremlin cries foul, Deutsche Welle, Jan 12, 2017

Excerpt: U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly questioned the Western alliance’s icy relations with Moscow and even the sense of the United States remaining a part of the NATO military alliance. But during confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill on January 12, Trump’s nominee for defense secretary, retired Marine General James Mattis, expressed doubts about the prospects for cozy relations with Moscow.

Asked about the main threats to U.S. interests, Mattis replied, “I would consider the principle threats to start with Russia.”

His comments seemed likely to clinch support for his nomination, as Russia-wary lawmakers hope he will temper Trump’s stated desire to partner with Moscow.

“I’m all for engagement but we also have to recognize reality in what Russia is up to,” Mattis said, adding there were a “decreasing number of areas” where the U.S. might cooperate with Moscow.

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