NATO starts massive war games in Ukraine


KIEV : Member nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organi­zation (NATO), including forc­es from the US, have launched a large-scale military exercise in westerns Ukraine.

The war games, dubbed Rapid Trident, kicked off at 9:00 am local time on Monday at the International Peace­keeping and Security Center (IPSC) in Yavoriv in western Ukraine, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said.

At least 2,000 troops from more than 14 NATO member states and their partners in east­ern Europe attend the exercises, according to the ministry.

The maneuvers will in­volve military equipment, in­cluding armored vehicles, mil­itary helicopters and aircraft.

The first part of the annual military exercise will come to an end on July 8.

Conducted annually, Rap­id Trident this year involves Ukraine, the United States, Bel­gium, Bulgaria, Canada, Georgia, The United Kingdom, Moldova, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Ro­mania, Sweden and Turkey.

Earlier this month, NATO held another 10-day military drill, involving some 31,000 troops from Poland, the US, and 17 other nations in Poland.

Russia, wary of the in­creased presence of NATO troops close to its borders, threatened to take unspecified measures to respond to the in­creased activities by the West­ern military bloc.

NATO has stepped up its military buildup near Russia’s borders since it suspended all ties with Moscow in April 2014 after Crimea re-integrated into the Russian Federation following a referendum.

Ukraine’s eastern prov­inces of Donetsk and Lu­gansk have witnessed deadly clashes between pro-Moscow forces and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations in April 2014 to crush pro-Moscow protests there.

The United States and its European allies accuse Mos­cow of destabilizing Ukraine. Moscow rejects having a hand in the crisis and blames the West for the bloodshed that has so far claimed the lives of more than 9,200 people and left over 21,000 others injured.

A US army commander warned earlier this week that NATO was unable to re­sist against Russian power in the Baltics.

The commander of US ground forces in Europe, Gen­eral Ben Hodges, said that Russian forces could capture Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania “quicker than we could get there to defend them.”

On Saturday, a former Russian commander, Admi­ral Vladimir Komoyedov, said Russia is capable of respond­ing to the increasing NATO military presence by deploying missile systems in the region.

The former commander told Interfax that Kaliningrad is the region where Russia plans deploy its Iskander-M tactical missile systems.

The missile system, which consists of two types of mis­siles– ballistic and cruise– is capable of destroying targets within a range of up to 500 ki­lometers.




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