US to hold major war games in Poland – ambassador
Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania
and the Baltic states (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia) will be
participating in drills, together with the Americans, Mull told
Lask airbase in central Poland has been selected as the venue for the military exercise, the ambassador said, refraining from saying when it was scheduled for.
Mull’s announcement comes just three days after US Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to the Polish capital of Warsaw.
Biden’s trip was aimed at reassuring that America remains a “steadfast ally” to Poland and the Baltic States after they expressed anxiety over the events in the Crimea, which signed a treaty of accession to the Russian Federation on Tuesday.
The vice president promised an additional 12 F-16 fighter jets for Poland and 10 more US F-15’s, instead of a planned four, to be assigned to NATO operations in the skies over the Baltics.
He also spoke of rotating more American ground and naval forces through the Baltic States for training exercises.
Biden once again stressed that there’ll be no changes to the US missile defense plans in Poland and Romania, with the controversial system to be operational by 2018.
Meanwhile, an unnamed US military official told Reuters that
Polish radio has misrepresented the ambassador’s remarks in their
Mull was only talking about the discussion between Warsaw and Washington of the “possibility of expanding aviation activities at Lask to potentially include other NATO partners, and then he mentioned those nations.”
Poland’s geographical position has made it a strategically important NATO member as the country borders the crisis-torn Ukraine as well as Russia’s western enclave in the Kaliningrad region.
On Friday, the Ukrainian military joined two weeks of multinational military exercises that involve troops from 12 NATO members and partner nations, Reuters reports.
The Saber Guardian war games will be staged at the Novo Selo training facility in eastern Bulgaria and will include some 700 troops from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine and the US, as well as NATO representatives.
On Thursday, the US and NATO also announced that the annual Rapid Trident war games won’t be rescheduled and will take place in Ukraine this summer.
In addition to US and British soldiers, they’ll include units from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Canada, Georgia, Germany, Moldova, Poland, Romania and Ukraine.
Rapid Trident 2014 is designed to promote regional stability and improve interoperability between NATO and Ukraine, which isn’t a member of the North Atlantic Alliance.
On Friday, the Crimea and Sevastopol, which used to be part of
Ukraine, officially joined Russia, with President Putin signing
the finalizing decree.
Previously, Russian lawmakers ratified both the amendment and an international treaty with the Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, which the sides signed in the Kremlin on March 18.