A massive U.S.-led military war drill with more than 18,000 soldiers from 19 NATO member states, has begun across Poland and the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania.
The U.S. Army Europe said Monday that Saber Strike 18 exercise has commenced, and "brings full-scale battle simulations for the service members involved to enhance their real-world military occupations and deployment logistics strategies.
The war drill will take place in the Baltic states from June 03-15 as “a demonstration of the commitment and solidarity of the Alliance" at a time when Russia’s military is "increasingly threatening NATO members."
The report stressed, however, that Saber Strike 18 “is not a provocation of Russia" even though Russia says, year after year, that it is.
U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, from the 127th Wing, Michigan Air National Guard, Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Michigan, sit on the tarmac at RAF Mildenhall, England, June 01, 2018. These A-10s were headed to support the U.S. Army Europe-led exercise Saber Strike 2018.
When your ass is exposed and the shrapnel is pinging off your lid, you need these guys. Your life depends on these guys! A-10 Thunderbolts🇺🇸 at RAF Mildenhall🇬🇧 on route to support #SaberStrike18 in 🇪🇪🇱🇻🇱🇹🇵🇱 #BRRRRRRRRT #CAS #WarthogsAreGo! https://t.co/RxAkyN3UMF pic.twitter.com/moFbsz9wwz— GorseFires Collectif (@GorseFires) June 2, 2018
The U.S. 2d Cavalry Regiment performed ammo distribution training in Polan, on their way to support the U.S. Army Europe-led exercise Saber Strike 2018.
"You cannot prevent a major catastrophe, but you can build an organization that is battle-ready, where people trust one another." - Peter Drucker #AlwaysReady #SaberStrike #SaberStrike18 #StrongEurope pic.twitter.com/4u3cF6jcbQ— 2d Cavalry Regiment (@2dCavalryRegt) June 2, 2018
The U.S. 2d Cavalry Regiment is rolling through small towns in the Czech Republic, on their way to Lithuania for Saber Strike 2018.
The U.S. deployed 28 F-16 jets to the exercise.
U.S. deployed 28 #F16 jets in Eastern Europe. The fighter jets, currently based in #Estonia and #Poland, will take part in the main military exercises such as #baltops2018 and #SaberStrike18. More details 👉https://t.co/8ItFy9C0Fw #aviationdaily #aviation #military pic.twitter.com/oJIW6jOnL3— blogbeforeflight.net (@bbfaviation) June 4, 2018
Simultaneously, Lithuania’s defense ministry announced the start of the country’s largest-ever war drill, dubbed “Thunder Storm”, with more than 9,000 troops.
Meanwhile, Russia has once again expressed concerns about NATO’s colossal war drill next to its borders. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that Moscow is closely observing NATO’s exercise and is taking precautionary measures to ensure Russia’s safety. As he emphasized, “Moscow always closely tracks all NATO maneuvers, especially those drills that have a certain degree of proximity to our borders.”
“Naturally, all the relevant ministries have taken all the required measures to ensure our country’s security amid such maneuvers,” Peskov stressed.
Russia has traditionally criticized NATO for performing military drills in immediate proximity to Russian broders, as well as the ongoing army buildup. Speaking at the Munich Security Conference in February, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov explained that “nothing NATO is doing right now is increasing anyone’s security.
Meanwhile, tensions between Moscow and NATO could escalated further as NATO prepares to increase troop reserves even more. Citing diplomatic sources in Brussels, Die Welt reported that NATO is preparing to deploy a 30,000-strong reserve force, plus hundreds of warplanes and vessels for quick deployment in the event of an invasion by Russia.
The report which was quoted by Sputnik said the reserve force would be added to the 20,000-strong NATO response force in Europe, which can be deployed within a month.
According to Die Welt, Washington is reportedly behind the increased military buildup with Germany assigned a “leading role in the creation of new combat formation." The German publication also said NATO wants to improve its “combat mobility” by rapidly transporting tanks and heavy machinery to hot zones around the Russian border.
As usual, the only question worth asking here is "what will Russia’s response be"?