U.S. Navy may increase Black Sea patrols – Admiral

From RT

December 7, 2016

The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun © Stoyan Nenov
Washington may send more ships to the Black Sea in order to extend the amount of time they can patrol the area, according to a senior US Navy officer.

The US has sent a string of warships into the Black Sea since the Ukraine crisis broke out in 2014, and NATO refused to recognize Crimea’s reunification with Moscow or Russia’s military presence on the peninsula.

“It depends on whether or not the challenges in the region become more or less urgent,” Vice Admiral James G. Foggo III told Sputnik on Wednesday, on the margins of the Defense Forum 2016, organized by the US Naval Institute in Washington, DC. “Obviously, when things become more intense you see the presence of additional ships.”

Extending the length of US operations would require additional ships, since the 1936 Montreux Convention limits vessels of outside states to 21 consecutive days in the Black Sea.

NATO has floated the possibility of setting up a “Black Sea flotilla” to get around the restriction, but Romania was not keen on the idea, while Bulgaria has rejected it outright.

“We probably had a US Navy warship in there under a US flag, bilateral or multilateral operations about third of the year, NATO is in there operating about a third of the year, and the Russian Federation Navy is putting more assets in there and things are getting more crowded,” said the admiral.

Foggo became the Director of Navy Staff last month, having previously served as commander of the US Sixth Fleet and deputy commander of US Naval Forces Europe. He commanded the NATO maritime task force during the 2011 intervention in Libya.

During his presentation at the Defense Forum, Foggo said the Navy’s top current challenges were “Russians, Radicals and Refugees.”

“We have to remain vigilant,” Foggo told the conference, noting that the Russian navy had “some very effective weapon systems.”

“They’re out there and they’re pretty good,” he said.

By way of example, Foggo mentioned the incident in April 2016, when two Russian fighters buzzed the USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea. Senior US officers in NATO hurried to declassify the video of the event so they could seize the moral high ground in the “YouTube wars” and accuse the Russians of unprofessional and reckless behavior, he explained.

During the 6th Fleet’s BALTOPS 2016 maneuvers, two Russian corvettes shadowed the 49 NATO ships, appearing on the sides of the group photo taken by the alliance’s public relations officers. Foggo recounted declining the offer to edit the Russians out, joking that the photo could serve as proof he commanded a force of “more than 50 ships.”

https://www.rt.com/usa/369555-navy-black-sea-patrols/

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NATO force on Russian border ‘not a threat in any way’ – U.S. State Department

From RT

November 22, 2016

© Ints Kalnins
© Ints Kalnins / Reuters

Washington has expressed discomfort over Russia’s deployment of Iskander missiles and air defenses in Kaliningrad, saying that NATO is a “defensive alliance”and is not threatening Moscow. Meanwhile, more tanks and troops are being deployed to the Baltics.

“NATO is a defensive alliance, it’s always been a defensive alliance, it will remain a defensive alliance,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Tuesday. “There is no reason why Russia should view NATO in any way, shape or form as a threat.”

On Sunday, NATO kicked off “Iron Sword 2016”exercises in Lithuania, the largest such maneuvers to date, involving 4,000 troops from across the alliance. The exercises in 2015 and 2014 involved 2,500 and 2,000 troops, respectively.

“There is no reason for anybody in Russia to feel threatened by NATO’s military activities or preparations.” Kirby continued. “In terms of recent months and years, there would have been no reason for NATO to advance and commit additional capabilities on the European continent – including American capabilities – had it not been for Russia’s move in Ukraine.”

This is in line with NATO’s official position that military activities in eastern Europe were a defensive response to alleged Russian “aggression” in Ukraine. NATO said Russia was responsible for “annexing” Crimea from Ukraine. The region voted to join the Russian Federation in March 2014, following the coup that overthrew Ukraine’s elected government.

Moscow responded to the recent NATO build-up by announcing it would deploy S-400 air defense systems and “Iskander” missile launchers to Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave containing almost one million inhabitants sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania.

“Russia is doing all that is necessary to protect itself amid NATO’s expansion toward its borders,” Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, told reporters at the Kremlin on Tuesday. “The alliance is a truly aggressive bloc, so Russia does what it has to do. It has every sovereign right to take necessary measures throughout the territory of the Russian Federation.”

‘Russia is doing all that is necessary to protect self’ – Kremlin spokesman on deployment of missiles in Kaliningrad http://on.rt.com/7vt8 

Photo published for Russia has right to defend against ‘aggressive’ NATO – Kremlin on Baltic missile placement — RT News

Russia has right to defend against ‘aggressive’ NATO – Kremlin on Baltic missile placement — RT News

Russia has the right to protect itself against NATO’s eastward expansion, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, commenting on the deployment of Russian ballistic missiles in the Kaliningrad Region….

rt.com

NATO’s military drill on Russia’s border comes amid preparations to permanently station 4,000 alliance troops in Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, a decision made at the NATO summit in Warsaw in July.

A quarter of the force would be composed of US troops currently based in Germany, who would relocate to Poland. A 1,000-strong German-led force equipped with tanks would be deployed in Lithuania in February for the first time since WWII. The remaining 2,000 British and Canadian troops would be stationed in Estonia and Latvia.

READ MORE: Germany to send modern tanks to Russian border – Defense Ministry

NATO has accused Russia of “aggressive military posturing” over reports that missiles would be deployed in Kaliningrad, while on Monday Kirby called for Moscow to “refrain from words or deeds that are inconsistent with the goal of promoting security and stability.”

Kosovo: An evil little war (almost) all US candidates liked (Op-Edge) http://on.rt.com/7822 

Established in April 1949 – six years before the Warsaw Treaty Organization – NATO ensured a permanent US presence in western Europe during the Cold War. After the dissolution of both the WTO and the Soviet Union, NATO expanded both its boundaries and its mission. On March 12, 1999, the alliance admitted the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary. Twelve days later, NATO attacked Yugoslavia. After a 78-day bombing campaign, alliance troops were allowed occupy the Serbian province of Kosovo as “peacekeepers.”

Bulgaria, Romania and the Baltic states joined the alliance in March 2004, putting NATO on the shores of the Black Sea and on the western border of the Russian Federation. In March 2011, NATO launched an intervention in Libya, aiding the rebels that overthrew the government of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

https://www.rt.com/usa/367860-russia-missiles-nato-defensive/

Germany to send modern tanks to Russian border – Defense Ministry

From RT

October 27, 2016

Leopard 2A7 © Michaela Rehle
Leopard 2A7 © Michaela Rehle / Reuters

Germany is preparing to deploy its most modern ‘Leopard 2’ tanks and more than 600 infantrymen to Lithuania as it joins NATO’s biggest military buildup since the Cold War, German media reported citing the defense ministry.

The plans to deploy not infantry and tanks to the NATO member state bordering Russia were announced by the German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen at a two-day meeting of the alliance’s defense ministers in Brussels.

Deployment of “heavy weaponry” was then confirmed to the German daily Die Welt by a defense ministry spokesman, who said that tanks will be only part of the military equipment that Germany is going to deploy to the Baltic State.

A NATO battalion under German command will be stationed in Lithuania In February. The battalion’s personnel will amount to 1,000 soldiers, with from 450 to 650 of them coming from Germany and the rest being deployed by France, Belgium and Croatia.

According to the German daily Der Tagesspiegel daily, this will be an autonomous combat-ready unit equipped with tanks and armored vehicles that will also have snipers, engineering troops, military medics and even military police. The battalion will be fully operational starting from June 2017, German media reported.

The decision to send tanks alongside with the infantry to Lithuania should “send a clear signal” that Germany takes security concerns of the eastern NATO members “seriously,” von der Leyen said during the ministers’ meeting in Brussels.

“It should send a clear signal that an attack on any NATO member state would be regarded as an attack on all 28 members [of the bloc],” she said, as cited by Der Tagesspiegel. At the same time, she stressed that the deployment of German forces on the Russian border was a “strictly measured” step that has exclusively “defensive” purposes, as reported by Die Welt.

In 2015, von der Leyen ordered 100 new Leopard 2 tanks for the German army, the Bundeswehr, “in response to the Ukrainian crisis.” Additionally, all tanks that are currently in use by German forces should be modernized starting in 2017, according to the defense ministry’s plan.

The upper threshold for the number of tanks in the German army, which was set at 225 in 2011, was then increased to 328 in line with the ministry’s new plans, Die Welt reported.

However, the plans to station tanks almost on the Russian border provoked criticism from some German politicians.

“Sending tanks to the Russian border means forgetting the history,” Sara Wagenknecht, the head of the Left Party’s faction in the German parliament, told the news agency DPA. She also denounced the move as “a step towards further escalation of relations with Russia.”

“Those who really want to preserve peace in Europe should eventually return to relying on the traditions of the policy of détente instead of continuing to support the confrontational course that is neither in German interests, nor in the interests of the EU,” she said.

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