NATO spearhead troops practice fast deployment in Poland

placement1Hundreds of NATO troops with heavy equipment began a military exercise in Poland on Tuesday, testing the alliance’s rapid response readiness in the face of new security challenges on its eastern flank.

The so-called spearhead force was agreed upon at a NATO summit last year in reaction to Russia’s role in the separatist fighting in Ukraine which has raised security concerns in other nearby nations that were once under Moscow’s dominance.

“It is our unconditional priority to have NATO’s eastern flank strengthened,” Deputy Foreign Minister Henryka Moscicka-Dendys said when asked about the role of the Noble Jump exercises. “I feel safe.

“The deployment exercise began with German and Dutch troops arriving near the southwestern Polish city of Zielona Gora to test the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force. It will soon move to a test range in nearby Zagan, where more than 2,000 troops will train.

A mobilization exercise was held in April in the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. The current exercise tests deployment procedures by road, rail and air.

Allied Shield exercises will be held this summer in the region and will involve 14,000 troops from 19 NATO members and three partner nations.

A multinational naval exercise opened on the Baltic Sea last week.

Source: Yahoo News

Russia refuses to sign IAEA annual report, says Sevastopol not in Ukraine

Russia has refused to sign off on the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s annual report because the document lists a nuclear reactor near Crimea’s Sevastopol as being in Ukraine, two diplomats present at the meeting told Reuters on Monday.

Russia annexed Crimea last year, but most countries still consider it part of Ukraine. Monday’s move by Russia is unlikely to block the report, but raises serious questions about jurisdiction in the contested area.

Ukraine protested against Russia’s move at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s quarterly board of governors meeting, one Western diplomat said.

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Russia orders quicker build-up of military facilities in Kurile Islands

An aerial view shows Kunashiri Island, one of four islands known as the Southern Kuriles in Russia and Northern Territories in Japan, is seen in this photo taken 2005. REUTERS/Kyodo

An aerial view shows Kunashiri Island, one of four islands known as the Southern Kuriles in Russia and Northern Territories in Japan, is seen in this photo taken 2005. REUTERS/Kyodo

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on Monday ordered the speeding up of construction of military and civilian infrastructure on a chain of islands in the Pacific Ocean where Moscow and Tokyo have rival territorial claims.

Dispute over the islands, known as the Kuriles in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan, has strained relations between the two countries since World War Two, when Soviet forces occupied four islands at the southern end of the chain.

Shoigu was speaking in Russia’s Far East city of Vladivostok while inspecting the eastern military district, his ministry said in a statement. It did not provide more detail.

Moscow has angered Tokyo in recent years by having state officials visit the island chain and stepping up military activities there. Japan says the islands are part of its territory and wants Moscow to hand them over.

Source: Reuters

West must consider arming Ukraine: Ex-NATO head

From CNBC:

The Russia-Ukraine crisis could last decades, the former secretary general of NATO has warned, telling CNBC that the West should consider arming the Ukrainians in a fight that is “part of a bigger Russian master plan.”

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who led the international military alliance of NATO between 2009 and 2014, said that Russia continued to destabilize Ukraine, with “tens of thousands” of troops amassed along the Russian-Ukrainian border and “actively operating” within the country.

“We are all hoping to see a peaceful political solution to this crisis because basically there is no military solution,” Rasmussen told CNBC on Monday.
“The problem is that the Russians seem to think there is a military solution, so they continue to destabilize the situation in Ukraine and my point is, if this continues, I think the time has come to consider the delivery of defensive weapons to the Ukrainians so that they can defend themselves, at least.”

Read More at CNBC

Britain to contribute more to new NATO rapid response force

From Reuters UK:

Britain raised its commitment to NATO’s new rapid response force on Monday, a day after U.S. President Barack Obama pressed Prime Minister David Cameron over defence spending.

Surprised by the speed of Russia’s military intervention in Crimea last year, NATO leaders have approved wide-ranging plans to boost the alliance’s defences in eastern Europe and create a new “spearhead” rapid reaction force with 5,000 soldiers.

British Defence Minister Michael Fallon said Britain would contribute an extra 500 troops to the very high-readiness joint task force from 2016, taking its total to 3,000, before it takes on leadership of the force the following year.

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