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03 Feb 22. US gives military helicopters to Croatia, Russia arms Serbs. The United States on Thursday delivered two Black Hawk military helicopters to Croatia, which is engaged in a mini arms race with neighboring Russian ally Serbia amid simmering tensions in the post-war Balkan region.
The U.S. Embassy in Croatia’s capital, Zagreb, said the donated UH-60M multi-purpose helicopters will contribute to Croatia’s growing defense capabilities and military preparedness in support of NATO.
“The Black Hawk provides capabilities across a range of possible missions, from special operations to tactical troop transport to aeromedical evacuation,” U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Mark Fleming said as the helicopters arrived on a U.S. Air Force transport plane to Zagreb.
“Croatia has earned a reputation as a committed and capable NATO ally, and the introduction of Black Hawks will further boost the capacities of the Croatian Armed Forces,” Fleming said in the statement.
Defense Minister Mario Banozic thanked the U.S. for the donation.
“It represents evidence of strong, friendly and allied relations, which are progressing every year,” he said.
Croatia last month reached an agreement with the U.S. to buy 89 Bradley fighting vehicles as part of cooperation with Washington and plans as a member of NATO to form an infantry brigade.
Croatia, which is also a member of the European Union, last year agreed to purchase 12 Rafale fighter jets from France.
Serbia, which was at war with Croatia in the 1990s over its secession from the Serb-led Yugoslavia, has lately been arming itself mostly with Russian and Chinese warplanes, drones, and anti-aircraft systems.
In recent months, Russia has handed over to Serbia 30 battle tanks and 30 armored personnel carriers.
Serbia has also recently purchased sophisticated Russian Pantsir air defense systems, as well as attack and transport helicopters and Chinese drones.
Although formally seeking EU membership, Serbia has refused to fully align its foreign policies with the 27-nation bloc and has worked on strengthening its relations with Russia and China in parallel.
With Croatia firmly standing by its NATO allies in the current tensions between Russia and Ukraine, Serbia said it will remain neutral. (Source: Defense News)
02 Feb 22. Defence Secretary meets NATO Allies to reaffirm UK commitment to European security. Ben Wallace met with defence counterparts in Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia to strengthen the Allied response to tensions on Ukraine’s border with Russia. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has met with NATO Allies and defence counterparts in Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia to strengthen the Allied response to the unfolding crisis on Ukraine’s border with Russia and the wider implications for European security.
His meetings follow on from a series of diplomatic talks last week in The Hague, Brussels and Germany where concerns over the territorial sovereignty of Ukraine were raised.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:
In Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia this week I have met with my defence counterparts and NATO Allies to discuss ways to strengthen European security and reaffirm our resolve to support the sovereignty of Ukraine.
We now need to see continued dialogue and de-escalation and an end to the build-up of Russian forces on the border of Ukraine. An invasion will be met with severe consequences.
In Budapest on Monday, the Defence Secretary laid a wreath at the Memorial Stone of Heroes in Heroes Square before his meeting with Hungarian Defence Minister Dr Tibor Benkő.
The Defence Secretary held meetings with his counterpart Defence Minister Mario Banožić in Zagreb, Croatia, on Tuesday where he signed a new Strategic Partnership Commitment (SPC).
The SPC builds on the Memorandum of Understanding agreed five years ago, and comes as the UK and Croatia celebrate 39 years of diplomatic relations. The Defence Secretary also met Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković in Zagreb for talks about our nations’ shared approach as NATO Allies to stand up for the sovereignty of Ukraine.
In Slovenia, the Defence Secretary met with Defence Minister Matej Tonin. Like Croatia, the UK and Slovenia are marking 30 years of diplomatic relations. The Prime Minster yesterday (Tuesday) travelled to Ukraine for talks with President Zelenskyy as the UK announced £88m of new funding to help Ukraine clamp down on corruption and reduce the nation’s reliance on Russian energy supplies. Britain is considering reinforcing NATO’s defences through new and bolstered deployments which underpin the UK’s support to European allies. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
02 Feb 22. U.S. to Deploy 3,000 Troops to Romania, Poland, Germany. The United States will move approximately 3,000 service members to Romania, Poland and Germany in response to Russia’s continuing build-up of forces on its western border with Ukraine and in Belarus, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said today during a news conference. The move demonstrates America’s commitment to the defense of NATO allies, Kirby said. Russian President Vladimir Putin has deployed a full range of military capabilities on its western border. While U.S. officials still believe Putin has not made up his mind to invade Ukraine again, he certainly has the capabilities needed to do so, the press secretary said.
“The current situation demands that we reinforce the deterrent and defensive posture on NATO’s eastern flank,” Kirby said. “President Biden has been clear that the United States will respond to the growing threat to Europe’s security and stability. Our commitment to NATO Article Five and collective defense remains ironclad.”
Kirby stressed these deployments are prudent and temporary and done in consultation with European allies. He stressed that the forces are not going to fight in Ukraine. “They’re going to ensure the robust defense of our NATO allies,” he said.
He said these deployments are in addition to the prepare-to-deploy orders Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III gave to 8,500 service members last month. Those troops are not involved in this movement.
Kirby said a 1,000-member Army Stryker squadron will deploy to Romania from Germany. They will join roughly 900 U.S. service members already in that country. “This force is designed to deter aggression and enhance our defensive capabilities in frontline allied states,” he said. The troops will begin moving out in a couple of days. The deployment is at the express invitation of the Romanian government.
The United States is also sending about 2,000 troops from Fort Bragg, North Carolina to Europe in the next few days, Kirby said. “The 82nd Airborne Division is deploying components of an infantry brigade combat team and key enablers to Poland, and the 18th Airborne Corps is moving a joint-task-force-capable headquarters to Germany,” he said. “Collectively, this force is trained and equipped for a variety of missions to deter aggression and to reassure and to defend our allies. Not surprisingly, we work very closely with our Polish and German allies to set the stage for these movements, and we absolutely appreciate their support.”
The situation in the region is fluid and the United States will continue to review force posture, “and we will make adjustments as the situation warrants,” Kirby said.
The United States is not the only nation beefing up troop presence in the front-line states. Kirby noted French President Emmanuel Macron also announced sending units to Romania and that Spain, Denmark, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands are also consulting with allies to deploy forces to reinforce NATO’s eastern flank.
The United States already has “robust capabilities” in Europe with about 80,000 troops. The U.S. forces join hundreds of thousands of European service members to defend the continent. “We stand united,” Kirby said. “These movements are unmistakable signals to the world that we stand ready to reassure our NATO allies to deter and defend against any aggression.” (Source: US DoD)
02 Feb 22. U.S. aircraft carrier runs drills in Adriatic amid Russia-Ukraine tension. The U.S. admiral leading the Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier strike group wouldn’t speculate on Wednesday about what comes next after exercises in the Adriatic Sea end in the coming days. Navy rules prohibit talking about future operations. But as the Pentagon looks for ways to reassure jittery NATO allies following Russia’s deployment of over 100,000 forces near Ukraine, the Truman is a powerful symbol of U.S. military might and NATO capabilities in a region increasingly on edge.
“The decisions that are made about where a strike group from the United States deploys is really at the Secretary of Defense level,” Rear Admiral Curt Renshaw said.
“But we are ready to operate anywhere and we planned to be on an extended deployment when we left Norfolk (Virginia) and we plan to be able to operate wherever we are needed most.”
The strike group, which was placed under NATO operational control, is in the Adriatic for coordinated maritime maneuvers, anti-submarine warfare training and long-range strike training scheduled to run through Feb. 4.
When it announced the exercises, dubbed Neptune Strike 2022, NATO said it was the first time since the Cold War that a full U.S. carrier strike group came under NATO command.
The U.S. Department of Defense held up the Truman’s role in Neptune Strike 2022 as evidence the NATO alliance was “united, capable and strong.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the United States announced it will send nearly 3,000 troops to Poland and Romania to reinforce Eastern European NATO allies in the face of what Washington describes as a Russian threat to invade Ukraine.
Russia denies any plan to invade its neighbor but says it could take unspecified military measures if its demands are not met, including a promise by NATO never to admit Kyiv. (Source: Reuters)
03 Feb 22. As U.S. pledges troops, France prepares Romania plans. France will on Thursday aim to refine plans to send troops to Romania as part of a future NATO mission as it seeks to give further reassurance to the Black Sea nation amid tensions with Russia.
Romania has sought to address its own security concerns after Russia massed tens of thousands of troops near Ukraine’s borders. It has prompted fears of a conflict that could spill over into Romania, which has a 600-kilometre (370-mile) border with Ukraine.
The United States said on Wednesday it would send nearly 3,000 extra troops to Poland and Romania to reinforce Eastern European NATO allies in the face of what Washington describes as a Russian threat to invade Ukraine. read more
France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will hold talks in Bucharest on Thursday with nine ministers from Eastern Europe and the Baltic states, including Poland, the Czech Republic, and Estonia, to discuss the crisis.
Speaking to the Romanian parliament on Wednesday to mark the 15 years since it joined the European Union, Le Drian said Paris wanted to show its solidarity and underscore the EU’s unity after Russia had chosen to act as a destabilising power.
“France is ready to commit to new NATO reassurance measures for Romania,” Le Drian said, speaking alongside his Romanian counterpart Bogdan Aurescu. “We are proud to stand with you when the security situation is worsening at your borders, which are also our borders.”
NATO has a multinational land force of up to 4,000 troops in Romania, a member since 2004. The United States also has soldiers stationed at separate bases in Romania and in Bulgaria.
French officials said the objective would be to create a mission similar to those in the Baltics that have a lead nation co-ordinating land, sea and maritime assets.
Paris has offered to be the lead nation of the mission, which could see about 1,000 troops from various countries.
The contours of the mission will be discussed at the next NATO defence ministers meeting in mid-February. While a political decision could be made then, deploying forces would take some time, diplomats said. (Source: Reuters)
02 Feb 22. U.S. willing to discuss troop and missile limits with Russia – documents. Washington is willing to discuss promising not to deploy ground-launched missiles or combat forces in Ukraine if Russia agrees to do the same, according to confidential documents that the Spanish newspaper El Pais said were Washington’s and NATO’s written replies to Russian security demands. El Pais did not say how it obtained the documents.
“The United States is willing to discuss conditions-based reciprocal transparency measures and reciprocal commitments by both the United States and Russia to refrain from deploying offensive ground-launched missile systems and permanent forces with a combat mission in the territory of Ukraine,” the U.S. document said, according to a copy on the El Pais website.
The United States and its NATO allies are also ready to discuss reciprocal measures to avoid dangerous incidents in the air or at sea, and to reassure Moscow that there are no Tomahawk cruise missiles stationed in Romania and Poland, according to the documents published by the paper.
NATO and the Kremlin told Reuters they would not comment.
The positions set out in the two documents, which were officially handed to Moscow on Jan. 26, are consistent with public statements by Washington and its allies in the past, particularly in terms of offering military transparency.
The United States has also long said that NATO’s European missile shield in Romania, and a planned site in Poland, will not serve as a future defence against Russian rockets, but to defend against threats from Iran and the wider Middle East.
In its written reply, the United States offered transparency over its Romanian and Polish missile sites if Moscow did the same at two sites in Russia.
In the NATO document, the 30-member alliance said: “the reversal of Russia’s military build-up in and around Ukraine will be essential for substantive progress.”
The West says more than 100,000 Russian troops are positioned on Ukraine’s borders and in Belarus. Russia denies Western accusations it is planning to invade Ukraine. (Source: Reuters)
03 Feb 22. Russia to move naval drills away from Irish coast. Russia has agreed to relocate a live-firing exercise that was planned to take place in international waters in the Irish Sea, Moscow’s ambassador to Ireland has announced. The Irish Aviation Authority was originally notified on 21 January of the Russian Navy’s plans to carry out the live artillery and missile firing in early February, 240 km southwest of the Irish coast. However, the announcement raised objections from the Irish government and Irish fishing groups. In a press release issued on 29 January, Russian ambassador to Ireland Yury Filatov said that in response to requests from the Irish government and the Irish South & West Fish Producers Organisation, it was decided that the exercises would be moved to outside of the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ) “with the aim to not hinder fishing activities by the Irish vessels in traditional fishing areas”. (Source: Janes)
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