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    American Military Front, From Riga to Izmir

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    While continuing to denounce alleged Russian military involvement in Ukraine, the American military marched east this September, participating in training, drills, and exercises spanning from Latvia to Turkey.

    MOSCOW, September 25 (RIA Novosti) - While continuing to denounce alleged Russian military involvement in Ukraine, the American military marched east this September, participating in training, drills, and exercises spanning from Latvia to Turkey. It coordinated with its military allies in between - including in Ukraine - consolidating a front which extends 2,600 kilometers.

    Collaboration between the Ukrainian and American militaries was the central point of President Poroshenko’s visit to Washington, DC, where he addressed Congress and spoke privately with President Obama about modernizing his fleet to better fight “barbarism” to his east.

    His request for military assistance found support in Congress, where the Foreign Relations Committee quickly passed the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014, but his request for an immediate transfer of powerful weapons was declined by President Obama.

    Along with its refusal to provide lethal weaponry, the White House released a fact sheet which declared, “The United States has also begun a process led by the US European Command and Department of Defense civilian and military experts to work with Ukraine to improve its capacity to provide for its own defense and set the stage for longer-term defense cooperation.”

    That process includes several recent and ongoing NATO drills along the American army’s new eastern front.

    Beginning in Riga, 47 participants from 15 countries are meeting from September 15 -26 for two operations, Steadfast Pyramid and Steadfast Pinnacle, where they will prepare for “exercising command and control during the planning, preparation and conduct of current and future operations.” These exercises are at the “forefront” of NATO’s response to the situation in Ukraine.

    About 900 kilometers due south, 1,300 NATO troops are conducting drills at the Yavoriv Training Center near Lviv in Ukraine as part of the US-led “Rapid Trident.” American Army Secretary John McHugh said the training was an explicit endorsement of America’s military support for Ukraine, and Lt. Gen. Anatoliy Pushniakov, land forces commander for the Ukrainian army, said in an interview with Stars and Stripes that soldiers who have previously trained with American forces in western Ukraine have gone east to fight against Russia, and he suggests that trend will continue.

    America’s military commitment to Ukraine was echoed by U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, who observed the Yavoriv training as part of his duties as head of NATO’s Land Command in Izmir, Turkey, the southern tip of the front, which Poroshenko was scheduled to visit in August before canceling at the last minute.

    In addition to collaborating with NATO’s Land Command, the Ukrainian Navy has been drilling with its NATO allies Romania, Turkey, Spain, Canada, and the United States in operation Sea Breeze. These drills, which were held from September 8-10, allow participating nations to “test maritime interdiction operations, communications, search and rescue, force protection and navigation” with four frigates in the Black Sea.

    Before the September drills, the Ukrainian military joined 13 NATO nations in March about 900 kilometers due south of Yavoriv for Operation Saber Guardian at the Novo Selo Training Range in Bulgaria. There, 16 senior Ukrainian officers operated out of a joint command center, overseeing “air, navy, marine and army units” and interfacing with command centers in Sofia, Bucharest, and at the US military base in Rammstein, Germany.

    At the end of the two weeks of Saber Guardian drills, the since-retired Deputy Commander of US Army Forces in Europe, Maj. Gen. Richard Longo said, "When we do the exercise in the Ukraine next year, it will be even bigger and more complex.”

    Before the year is out, Ukraine will be included in two more NATO exercises due to its Observer status in the NATO South-East Europe Brigade. Trident Juncture, to be held in Stavanger, Norway, will be held from November, 3-18, and Trident Lance, to be held at Grafenwoehr, Germany, from December 1-12, will both be “Computer Assisted Exercises,” where commanders at NATO’s Allied Transformation Command will coordinate an “Article V” military response with Joint Force Command and Land Command, respectively.

    Referring to Trident Lance, a NATO Land Command article stated, "this will be the largest and most sophisticated command post exercise for NATO land forces since the end of the Cold War."

    If Poroshenko, Longo, and the NATO brass have their way, a “bigger and more complex” and “sophisticated” military presence in Ukraine will further militarize the 2,600 kilometer European front against Russia, returning to the darkest and coldest days of the last century.

    Daniel Zubov

    Center for International Journalism and Research, “Rossiya Segodnya”

    September 25, 2014

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    NATO, military exercises, military drills, US Army
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