US plans ‘big drill’ in Central Europe, attacks Russia
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby has announced several war games will be held across Europe, demanding that Russia open up on its defense exercises at its borders.
Kirby on Thursday described the Defender Europe 21 underway in Central Europe as “a major exercise to enhance readiness and interoperability between NATO allies and partners.”
The maneuvers, he said, are led by the US Army-Europe, but have significant US Navy and US Air Force involvement.
“The exercise continues with the Virginia-class submarine USS New Mexico, which arrives in Tromso, Norway, earlier this week,” he told the Pentagon.
“In the coming days, there will be exercises going on in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Germany and North Macedonia.”
Another war game, dubbed Astral Knight 2021, will be hosted by the US Air Force in Europe and Africa. Kirby described it as a joint multinational exercise involving military personnel from the United States, Albania, Croatia, Greece, Italy and Slovenia that will test integrated air and missile defense.
“It focuses on the defense of key terrain and the scheduled training will involve a combination of air operations and computer-aided scenarios,” he said.
Kirby referred to another war game called Steadfast Defender, run by French Army Lt. Gen. Brice Houdet, saying its aim is to improve the readiness of forces to “defend NATO”.
“That’s what we do. We train to be ready, to have an operational mindset and capabilities,” he said.
“Compare this transparency with Russia’s recent ‘exercise’ in breaking up the Crimea and along its border with Ukraine,” Kirby added.
Kirby said that despite repeated questions from European and American leaders, Moscow has not revealed details of “what they are deploying … and why they are deploying troops and capabilities in the region”.
Last month, Russia launched major military exercises on the Crimean Peninsula, near Ukraine’s southern borders, under the personal supervision of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. About 10,000 ground troops and over 40 warships took part in the maneuvers.
Moscow reaffirmed that its military activities take place within its sovereign territory and respond to an enhanced US and NATO presence near Russian borders.
Russia accused the United States and NATO of “provocative activities” in strategic Black Sea waters and airspace, with Shoigu accusing Kiev of trying to destabilize the situation in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region .
Kiev and Moscow have traded blame in recent weeks for an outbreak of violence in Donbass, where Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian forces have been fighting since 2014.
NATO forces have long been engaged in US-led wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria.
The US military presence and war games across the world – particularly in the Persian Gulf, West Asia, the Caribbean, the Far East, Africa, and Eastern Europe – have been widely censored as being provocative and aggressive in nature.