While Russia is using its deadliest weapon in Syria, NATO is carrying out its first-ever test deployment of troops in the Baltic from a U.K.-based command center.
NATO’s military buildup close to Russia’s borders has a goal to check the capabilities of the Alliance’s Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) to give orders to large formations ‘within a challenging security crisis,’ according to RT.
A massive command exercise called Arrcade Fusion 15 (AF15), which will run for two weeks and involve more than 1,700 troops from 20 NATO members, has begun in the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The Arrcade Fusion drills have been held annually since 1992.
This year, NATO is deploying its headquarters for the military drills to the Baltics for the first time at Latvia’s Lielvarde air base. Some elements will be operating in Lithuania and Estonia, while the main headquarters will be stationed in the U.K.
NATO’s official statements say that the plan for the maneuvers is “fictitious” with “realistic global security threats” played on computers only.
“My aim is to evaluate our deployability, test key emerging concepts that can be used to develop NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), and strengthen our partnership with our allies, especially those in the Baltic region,” said Commander of HQ ARRC Lt Gen Tim Evans, as reported by RT.
NATO holds largest military drills in over a decade
The exact details of the drills’ plan have not been revealed, but it is known that the simulated problems range “from formal military aggression to political decisions, from economic disruption to humanitarian crisis,” according to NATO.
The ARRC is capable of commanding and controlling NATO forces of the size between thousands of troops and an army of up to 60,000 soldiers. NATO’s official YouTube channel also revealed that the ARRC is a “deployable command center” available every time NATO needs to “run the world at high readiness,” deploying troops “on 48-hour notice,” as reported by RT.
In 2015, NATO has drastically stepped up the number and intensity of its military exercises across Europe, with largest and most active drills in countries bordering Russia. Earlier this month, NATO carried out large-scale ‘Trident Juncture 2015’ drills involving some 36,000 troops and over 60 warships and about 200 aircraft from all NATO member states.
This year’s Trident Juncture is the largest military drills in over a decade, when over 40,000 soldiers participated in NATO’s Strong Resolve drills. In what appears to be efforts to beef up the deterrence of Russia, the Alliance has also deployed a significant amount of heavy weaponry such as tanks and self-propelled artillery to the Baltics on a “rotational” basis.
Obama urged to break NATO-Russia treaty
U.S. President Barack Obama is being urged by top U.S. officials to permanently station troops in Eastern Europe to deter the Russian aggression, despite the fact that such a decision would break the NATO-Russian Founding Act signed between NATO and Russia in 1997, according to The Hill.
But those who are calling for Mr. Obama to make such a move say that Russian President Vladimir Putin broke the NATO-Russian treaty when he ordered his troops to invade Ukraine in 2014.
“Russia’s aggression and more dangerous military posture in Eastern Europe is a critical test for NATO,” New York Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel said, as reported by The Hill. “Now is the time to bolster our Baltic allies and Poland by basing at least one battalion in each of the four countries. This would restore the confidence of our allies and reestablish a safer balance in the region.”
The 1997 treaty warns the U.S. and NATO against “permanent stationing of substantial combat forces” in Eastern Europe and says that the Alliance and Moscow must respect the “sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence” of all states.
The U.S. has had rotational troops in the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia as well as Poland ever since Putin annexed Crimea in March 2014. The Kremlin has repeatedly called NATO’s moves to deploy more troops close to Russia’s borders an “aggressive act.”
Russia was the one who broke the NATO-Russian treaty, but “somehow we’ve decided that we and our allies are going to kind of keep up with the letter of it,” Evelyn Farkas, the former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, told The Hill less than a week after leaving her job.
It is expected that Engel will be joined by several Republican lawmakers in an attempt to make a push for adding more troops, but Arizona Senator John McCain recently said that the current number of those supporting the move is already sufficient, according to The Hill.
NATO vs. Russia war will be the end of humanity
Earlier in November, The Wall Street Journal reported that some 4,000 NATO combat troops will be stationed in countries neighboring with Russia. In Poland and the Baltic states, there will be roughly 800 to 1,000 soldiers stationed. The move has a high chance to escalate the risk of a war in Europe and a military confrontation between the world’s two largest nuclear powers: the U.S. and Russia.
According to The Journal, U.S. officials familiar with the deployment of the 4,000 NATO troops close to Russia’s borders say the move is supposed to send Putin a message that NATO’s active presence of military forces is at his country’s door and that NATO troops are watching his every move, ready to respond.
But a nuclear war involving the U.S., NATO and Russia “would probably spell, if not the end of humanity, the end of any possibility of a comfortable future for humanity,” as reported by ValueWalk, citing Press TV’s interview with Don DeBar, U.S. political analyst.