Well, it seems like the pissing contest between NATO and Russia has begun. Just a few days ago, Russia threatened to start nuclear war against the United States and its allies, and now the Alliance is further annoying the Kremlin.
First, it was NATO’s voting to provide lethal aid to Kyiv’s government to fight off those pesky pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, then it was conducting military drills along the Russian border, and now – it’s the test of a new “Very High Readiness Joint Task Force,” which will train Czech, Dutch and German forces to be ready for deployment within 48 hours.
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The goal of the task force is to be able to deploy forces within 48 hours “as NATO reevaluates the risks,” Maj. Gen. Jiri Baloun said Thursday, hinting at the challenges and threats coming from Russia. Before that, NATO could deploy its forces between 10 and 80 days.
150 soldiers from the Czech army’s 43rd airborne battalion, 900 German and 200 Dutch soldiers have been receiving military training and will be deployed for further training to Poland in June.
As part of the drills, the troops arrived at their bases with all the weapons, military equipment, vehicles, food and water they would need if the order to deploy abroad is given.
NATO’s Response Force is being increased to 30,000 troops
Additionally, NATO’s website reports that “headquarters personnel from Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Norway, Slovenia, Poland and Portugal tested their responses to NATO alert orders.” We see only one Baltic state in the list – Lithuania. What about Estonia? Or Latvia, where Russians make up around a third of the population?
Approximately 25,000 NATO troops are set to receive the same military training in Italy, Spain and Portugal in October and November of this year. Furthermore, NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force is set to increase the number of its soldiers in the upcoming months.
“NATO military planners have been working tirelessly to enhance NATO’s Response Force and implement the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, and today our progress is manifested in the rapid deployments we see happening in locations across the Alliance,” said General Philip Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander Europe.
“These measures are defensive, but are a clear indication that our Alliance has the capability and will to respond to emerging security challenges on our southern and eastern flanks,” he added.
In total, the “Very High Readiness Joint Task Force” will include about 5,000 troops, while the Spearhead Force, which is part of NATO’s Response Force, is being increased up to 30,000 troops.
Okay, now Russia must have responded to NATO’s endeavors like that: “Oh, look. Isn’t it cute? They are able to deploy their troops within 48 hours, while we’ve already invaded a European country.”
Russia: We’ll push for removal of all foreign military specialists from Ukraine
Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister has recently promised that the Kremlin will “push for removal of all foreign military specialists and illegal paramilitary groups from Ukrainian territory”, as reported by Russia Today. The comments come as the United States has recently confirmed its plans to send about 300 instructors to assist Ukrainian troops in training
Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told the Russian newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta: “We know that hundreds of US and NATO servicemen are planning to come to Ukraine to train the National Guard. The training camps are being set up not only in western Ukraine, but also in other parts of the country. This is a dangerous process. We would push for all foreign and illegal military units to be removed from Ukraine.”
Last month, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren announced to the media that about 290 servicemen of the 173 Airborne Brigade were set to be sent in western Ukraine in late April to assist the Ukrainian National Guard in training.
On Wednesday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk promised to sign certain agreements with NATO for their military as well as technical cooperation, which would allow Ukraine to get deeper into NATO’s Partnership for Peace program.
NATO might respond with military force
Russia has recently made threats to use its nuclear force against the West if NATO moves more forces into the Baltic states or if attempts are made to return Crimea to Ukraine.
ValueWalk asked for a military expert’s opinion, and here’s what he said: “It sure seems like Russia is testing the West, particularly the United States. It also seems like Russia is okay with the fact that World War 3 can be easily started any day. I mean, could we possibly imagine some country threatening other countries – not just one country! – to use its nuclear force without getting a robust and cohesive response, like, one and a half years ago?” Evgeni Solovyov, a retired Russian Army General and a Military Strategies and Technologies expert, asked.
Furthermore, he believes that in case Russia pulls something similar to what it did in Ukraine – annexing Crimea and supplying weapons to pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine (Donetsk and Luhansk) – NATO might respond with military force.
In his opinion, what NATO has done about it so far is “just not enough.”
“Yes, they supplied some military equipment to the Baltics, so what? Do you want to compare the number of that military equipment to what Russia currently has? But that’s the thing – nobody knows the exact numbers of what Russia has in terms of its military capacity. It’s a mystery,” he said.
The notes seen by The Times at the meeting between the US and Russia’s military and intelligence experts revealed that Vladimir Putin will view any attempt from NATO’s side to return Crimea to Ukraine or to increase its presence in the Baltics as declaration of war and threatened a “spectrum of responses from nuclear to non-military” to retain his control in the region.