NATO Ratchets up Tensions in the Baltic
NATO's exercises in the Baltics are provoking a Russian response leading to increased tension
NATO is on the move again, conducting a military BALTOPS (Baltic Operations) exercise in Ustka, Poland just west of the border from Kaliningrad in Russia.
This could be viewed as a direct provocation towards Russia. The increase in tension caused by such close-border exercises is justified by NATO blaming what they call Russian aggression in “annexing” Crimea. This, despite observers confirming the free and fair referendum in which the Crimean people overwhelmingly voted for reunification with Russia.
What's more, NATO’s aggressive posturing is merely one of many such operations planned to be conducted across Eastern Europe.
The NATO exercise entitled Noble Jump includes attack helicopters, fighter jets, military hovercraft, amphibious landing vehicles, warships, and nearly 6,000 personnel, all taking part in drills to capture make-believe “enemy held” (Russian) territory.
NATO actions, justification and timing merely heighten tension at an already difficult time between the West and Russia. Many are stating this is the worst escalation since the height of the Cold War between Russia and the West.
Recently the United States conducted another large movement of vehicles across Eastern Europe. One “parade” in Narva, Estonia was only 300 yards from the Russian border. Russian concerns regarding NATO expansion, and the seemingly endless maneuvers and encroachment since the fall of the Soviet Union, have been regularly dismissed by U.S. military leaders.
Russia claims border protection is in direct response to NATO escalations, while the West, for its part, maintains via the media that the increase in direct military exercises near Russia’s border, are in response to Russian border build-ups.
Among Russian responses to these exercises has been a military build-up in Kaliningrad, a naval base of great strategic importance, which allows access to the Baltic Sea without going past Estonia and Finland. This has led the Polish Defence Minister to state, “After tens of years of peace, that peaceful period after the Cold War is now over.”
According to NATO the entire event is part “of a wider series of training events occurring in June 2015 referred to as the 'Allied Shield' series of exercises.” There will be more exercises in Romania and other areas of Europe that are to be announced.
Both sides seem to be ramping up tensions, with Russia seeking self-protection and the U.S.-led NATO seemingly determined to act aggressively. One must wonder how the U.S. itself would react if a foreign military power felt entited to carry a series of military exercises so close to its own borders.
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