A US Army rocket test in Eastern Europe connected to NATO exercises in Romania has ratcheted tensions with Russia given the close proximity to its border.
The US this week conducted rocket-launch tests of M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket (HIMARS) vehicles, which had been transferred from Germany.
The rocket test was close enough to Russia for its Defense Ministry to deploy what Russian media described as "advanced hardware" on the Crimean peninsula should it be needed to neutralize any "surprise missile attack."
It was also provocative enough for Forbes to introduce the maneuvers in the following way:
The U.S. Army sneaked a pair of long-range rocket launchers near Russia’s Black Sea outpost on Thursday, fired off a few rockets then hurried the launchers back to the safety of their base in Germany. All within a few hours.
The one-day mission by the Army’s new Europe-based artillery brigade was practice for high-tech warfare. It clearly also was a message for Moscow. The U.S. Army in Europe has restored its long-range firepower. And it wants the Russians to know.
According to Russian media reports over 130 NATO soldiers and 30 units of military equipment were involved. The missile salvos were reportedly fired into the Black Sea.
And further according to Forbes, "The [US] brigade’s rapid deployment to Romania last week could prove even more provocative. Especially considering the new munitions the Army is developing for the HIMARS and MLRS. These include an anti-ship missile and a replacement for ATACMS that can travel as far as 310 miles."
"It’s just 250 miles across the Black Sea from the Romanian coast to Crimea. Army HIMARS flying in and out of Romania pose a serious, and unpredictable, threat to Russian forces in the region," the report underscores further.
All of this suggests the standoff over both Ukraine and Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea (which was done after a popular referendum) is far from over. Further, Russia has long slammed NATO for encroaching right up to its border, violating key agreements from the 1990s after the Soviet Union collapsed.