Twice this week AlertsUSA subscribers were been notified via SMS messages to their mobile devices regarding the ongoing U.S. and Russian military buildup in Eastern Europe as well as increasing delivery of military aid to Ukraine.
U.S. ARMOR AND SOLDIERS POUR INTO BALTICS
Starting first with the Baltics, readers will recall that last week we reported the Commander of U.S. Army Forces in Europe, Lt-Gen Frederick Hodges, called for the deployment of U.S. tanks in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Romania and Bulgaria in response to the growing Russian threat in the region. On Monday alone U.S. transport ships delivered more than 120 M1A2 Abrams tanks and M2A3 Bradley armored vehicles to the Port of Riga in Latvia, and this was just the start. In total, approximately 750 pieces of armored equipment including tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, artillery pieces and helicopters arrived this week, along with 3,000 soldiers from the U.S. Army's 3rd infantry division based out of Georgia.
Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steven Warren said the deployment of soldiers is currently scheduled to last 90 days. Agence France-Presse (AFP) is quoting an unnamed military source as saying that the military hardware will stay in the region long after U.S. troops head back to base. It is highly likely additional brigades will follow.
And this is just the U.S. Army component. As AlertsUSA Threat Journal has been reporting for months, the U.S. alone has deployed tens of thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, fighter aircraft, refueling tankers, early warning radars and naval warships on a rotational basis to augment and train train with European allies air, ground and naval presence throughout the region (see this, this, this, this and this). This week, even the normally quiet Norway launched it's largest military war games in 50 years. The exercise, known as Joint Viking, is taking place in the country’s far northeast Finnmark County (click for map), which is above the Arctic Circle and borders Russia’s Kola Peninsula.
And as we reported last week, the U.S. and Britain have military forces deployed in Ukraine.
RUSSIA CONDUCTING MAJOR EXERCISES
As for Russia, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated early this week that Moscow would respond to NATO military buildup near Russian border "in an adequate way."
The Russian Federation is itself surging forces to their border regions. In addition to 12,000 troops inside E. Ukraine, an additional 50,000 staged on the border and another 28,000 in Crimea, on Thursday Russia's Defense Ministry stated that large-scale military exercises were taking place in Russia's Southern and North Caucasus Federal Districts, as well as on Russian military bases in Armenia, the Georgian separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and on the Crimean Peninsula. Three Russian naval fleets are also holding military drills in the Black, Baltic and Barents Seas.
RUSSIAN JETS CONDUCT MOCK ATTACKS ON U.S. SHIPS
Russian fighter jets are reported to be running mock attacks on U.S. warships in the Black Sea. NATO officials indicate Russia is using its newest Su-30 multi-role fighter jets to simulate penetrating NATO’s anti-air systems
NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN CRIMEA
On Wed of this week, AlertsUSA subscribers were also notified of statements out of the Russian Foreign Ministry that Moscow publicly reaffirmed their right to deploy nuclear weapons in Crimea. According to Mikhail Ulyanov of the Russian Foreign Ministry, "Obviously, Russia has the right to place nuclear arms on its territory, if it considers it necessary, in any region.
Readers are reminded that in August of last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin had announced the approval of deploying nuclear-capable Iskander-M short-range missiles along with Tu-22 nuclear-capable bombers to the Crimean Peninsula.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU?
While a majority of the American public is transfixed with the launch of new smart watches, cable shows about rap music moguls and the upcoming season of Game of Thrones, the world is growing extremely dangerous by the minute. One would really have to be detached from reality to not see these escalations as highly threatening.
From Russia's perspective, they have seen 1.) several decades of the progressive Eastward expansion of a powerful military alliance (NATO) which wages war around the globe at will now undertaking a buildup of forces along their Western border, 2.) U.S. and EU meddling in the internal politics of Russian friendly nations, 3.) U.S. and other NATO warships now a near permanent presence in the Black Sea, 4.) ongoing efforts to deploy ballistic missile installations in neighboring countries and 5.) increasing economic and trade sanctions which present direct strategic threats to their economy.
From Europe's perspective, Russia's moves in Ukraine have put genuine fear into hearts of former Soviet bloc nations. Europe has seen 1.) the annexation of Crimea, 2.) direct Russian support of and involvement in Ukraine's civil war, 3.) the reported presence of tens of thousands of Russian troops in and around Ukraine as well as along the Federation's entire Western border and 4.) the increasing aggression of Russian Navy and Air Force.
This is a very dangerous situation taking shape with both sides actively preparing for war. At some point this confrontation will come to a head by accident or specific intent. When it does, the result will be ugly. It is always nice to talk about diplomatic solutions, but this will require one or both sides backing down. Will Russia pull away from Ukraine and Crimea and allow the country to come under the direct influence of NATO? Considering the strategic importance of the territory, this is very unlikely. Will NATO pull back forces from the region, cease the meddling in the internal politics of Russian-friendly nations and leave Baltic member states to fend for themselves in the face of Russian aggression? This is equally unlikely.
RUSSIAN NUCLEAR THREAT
Russia openly admits they are unable to win a conventional conflict against the full blown might of NATO. As such, their military doctrine relies on the use of tactical and strategic nuclear weapons (also see this and this). During testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee less than three weeks ago, nuclear arms experts testified that such weapons are at the center of Russia's national security strategy and military doctrine.
"Since the early 2000s, Russian strategists have promoted the idea of “de-escalatory” nuclear strikes.
According to this “escalate to de-escalate” concept, Moscow will threaten, or if necessary, carry out limited nuclear strikes early in a conventional conflict in order to force peace on terms favorable to Moscow.
Nearly all of Russia’s major military drills over the past decade have concluded with simulated nuclear strikes. Moreover, President Putin himself has personally overseen such nuclear exercises."
AlertsUSA continues to monitor developments in this region 24/7 and will immediately notify service subscribers of announcements of additional significant force deployments or any other changes in the overall threat environment, as events warrant.