ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Otan. Des milliers de soldats états-uniens à la frontière russe
by Gaël De Santis
Translated Wednesday 25 March 2015, by
The cease-fire signed in Minsk a month ago has been respected fairly well. NATO is conducting maneuvers in the Baltic countries and in the Black Sea.
The United States of America is sending a wave of arms and military material to Eastern Europe. On March 11, a U.S. official, speaking anonymously, told the Agence France Presse that Raven observation drones and 230 Humvee transport vehicles, including 30 armored ones, will be sent to Ukraine. This gift was the subject of a telephone conversation between U.S. vice president Joe Biden and Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko on March 11. No decision has yet been taken on the sending of lethal weapons.
The decision comes at a time when the cease-fire between the insurgents in the eastern Ukraine and the Ukrainian army and paramilitary forces has generally been respected along the 500-kilometer-long front line. Heavy weapons are maintained at a distance from the front line. Nevertheless, East-West relations are far from being good. On March 11, Moscow withdrew from the consultative meetings of the treaty on conventional forces in Europe, which limits the number of soldiers and the amount of military material from the Atlantic Ocean to the Ural Mountains.
If Russia is so feverish, it is because NATO forces are coming to tickle it on its borders. Three hundred U.S. soldiers have just arrived in the Baltic countries. They are part of a group totaling 3,000 U.S. soldiers who, in the coming weeks, are expected to arrive in the three countries, which border on Russia.
“Materiel and nearly 750 vehicles arrived by ship in Riga”, the capital of Lithuania, said colonel Steven Warren, a Pentagon spokesman. The soldiers are to stay “around 90 days”. A multinational exercise is to be organized from May 17 to June 6. But the materiel, which includes Abrams tanks, transport and combat vehicles, and helicopters, is to remain after the maneuvers. In February, NATO decided to set up six “command centers in Eastern Europe”. The objective is to have the capacity to deploy between 13,000 and 30,000 soldiers, 5,000 of whom on 48-hour notice.
NATO is also active in the Black Sea. Russia, the Crimea, annexed by Moscow, and Ukraine all have a Black Sea coast. NATO’s second-biggest naval group put in at Varna in Bulgaria on March 4 and is participating in maneuvers which consist in “aerial defense exercises, anti-submarine war exercises, and exercises featuring attacks by small boats”, NATO says. Ships from three NATO countries on the Black Sea – Bulgaria, Romania, and Turkey – are participating in the operation. Canadian, German, Italian and U.S. ships will also participate in this dangerous exercise.