by Staff Writers
Warsaw (AFP) Aug 25, 2017
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday urged the Kremlin to comply with rules on transparency as it gears up for huge military exercises along the alliance's eastern flank next month.
The drill, named Zapad 2017 ("West"), has stoked fresh alarm in NATO-members Poland and the Baltic states as a more assertive Russia pushes back against what it sees as the alliance's unjustified expansion into eastern Europe.
"I call on Russia to ensure compliance with its obligations under the OSCE Vienna Document, because predictability, transparency is especially important when we have increased military activity along our borders," Stoltenberg told reporters in Warsaw at a joint press conference with Poland's right-wing Prime Minister Beata Szydlo.
The Vienna Document requires all sides to provide advance information about exercises and allow observer teams so as to avoid any dangerous misunderstandings.
The NATO chief had much stronger words for Moscow on Thursday in Italy when he said that "the aggressive behaviour of Russia has undermined stability and security in Europe."
He vowed on Friday that the alliance would "be watching very closely as this (Zapad) exercise takes place next month" in Belarus, which borders alliance members Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
Under Vienna Document provisions, manoeuvres involving more than 13,000 troops must be notified in advance and be open to observers.
Belarus has said Zapad 2017 involves 12,700 troops, just under the limit, but Lithuania and other critics claim there could be as many as 100,000.
- 'Centre of gravity' -
According to NATO, Belarus has invited military liaison missions to attend a special visitors day on its territory, with two alliance experts due to go along.
Meanwhile, Russia's Interfax news agency reported this week that the Belarusian defence ministry had invited "observers from seven countries, namely Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Sweden, and Norway ... to this (Zapad 2017) event."
Russia has dismissed concerns over the exercises, with Russian Deputy Defence Minister Alexander Fomin telling the Rossiya 24 news channel that "I do not see any reason to be afraid. Everything, as usual, will be open and friendly."
Stoltenberg was due to visit later Friday a US-led NATO battalion based in the northeastern Polish town of Orzysz.
The multinational unit is one of four deployed by NATO this spring to Poland and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in order to reassure its easternmost allies unsettled by Russia's frequent military exercises near the region in the wake of its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
General Ben Hodges, commander of US ground forces in Europe, said last week that "Poland has become for the United States Army the centre of gravity for everything that we're doing in terms of deterrence" regarding Russia.
Aside from leading the NATO force in Orzysz, the US Army set up a new European headquarters in Poland in May to command some 6,000 of its troops deployed in NATO and Pentagon operations across the alliance's eastern flank since the beginning of the year.
Kiev (AFP) Aug 23, 2017
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in Ukraine Wednesday for talks on expanding US support for the country's military in its fight with Russian-backed rebels. Kiev is hoping for more lethal weaponry from the United States, including anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons to push back the well-armed separatists who have occupied large parts of eastern Ukraine. Although the US military ha ... read more
Learn about the Superpowers of the 21st Century at SpaceWar.com
Learn about nuclear weapons doctrine and defense at SpaceWar.com
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|