On Tues of this week AlertsUSA subscribers were notified via text messages to their mobile devices that the U.S. and NATO were preparing to deploy approximately 1000 soldiers to western Ukraine for "training exercises." This will be the first significant deployment of U.S. and NATO personnel to Ukraine since the crisis erupted. It is also likely to draw a serious reaction from Moscow.
According to U.S. Navy Captain Gregory Hicks, spokesman for the U.S. Army's European Command, the exercise known as Rapid Trident is slated to run from Sept. 15-26, will take place at the Yavoriv Training Center near Ukraine's border with Poland and will involve a total of 1300 troops from U.S., Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Britain, Canada, Georgia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania and Spain.
News of the deployment comes at the same time as NATO admits the number of Russian troops inside Ukraine now number between 1,000 and 2,000, with a significantly larger force massed at the Russia-Ukraine border. According to Pentagon spokesman U.S. Army Col. Steve Warren, “We are continuing to say [there are] more than 10,000 Russian personnel along the border, and that force "is exceptionally capable,” adding that it’s probably more capable and more lethal than it was before. “It includes land power, indirect fire and air defense, along with enablers such as engineers, logistics and combat support services.
Late this week Russian forces began intense artillery fire against Ukrainian forces in the southern port city of Mariupol. Once the city falls, Russia will have an uninterrupted land route to and from Crimea, which was occupied and absorbed into the Russian Federation earlier this Spring.
Also late this week, NATO General Secretary Anders Fough Rasmussen announced the formation of a multinational rapid reaction force numbering between 5 and 10,000 soldiers. This force would be able to deploy anywhere within the NATO group of nations within 48 hours of notice. The announcement was also delivered with a warning to Russia: "Should you even think of attacking one ally, you will be facing the whole alliance."
Russia is clearly feeling threatened by the movement of U.S. and NATO forces closer to their borders. Twice in the last two weeks, nuclear threats have been made.
Last Friday, it was Russian President Vladimir Putin who issued a thinly veiled threat to the West. At a publicly broadcast youth forum, Putin's nuclear threat was clear: “I want to remind you that Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear nations. This is a reality, not just words.” He added, "It's best not to mess with us."
This week, a senior Russian general called for the country to revamp its military doctrine, last updated in 2010, to clearly identify the U.S. and its NATO allies as Moscow's enemy number one and to specifically spell out the conditions under which Russia would launch a preemptive nuclear strike against the NATO military alliance.
According to Russian General Yury Yakubov: "First and foremost, the likely enemy of Russia should be clearly identified in this strategic document," adding that it is necessary to hash out the conditions under which Russia could carry out a preemptive strike with the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces," he said.
As always, AlertsUSA continues to closely monitor the growing tensions in this region and will immediately notify service subscribers of new U.S. force deployments, changes in threat posture or any other related developments which signal a change the overall threat picture, as events warrant.