Russian Drills Fanning Tensions in Europe

Last week’s massive snap military exercises by Russia are part of recent behavior that is fanning tensions in Europe and not helping transparency, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a press availability March 25 in Washington, D.C. Every nation holds exercises, Stoltenberg said in response to a question from Air Force Magazine, but the recent drills are typical of a “more assertive Russia,” which is exercising more modernized military forces, and has demonstrated it will “use force to change borders and to annex part of another country,” he said. What is more concerning is these exercises are “snap exercises,” held with no advance warning, he added, and have been used in the Ukraine crisis as a cover for deploying combat forces “to launch aggressive actions.” NATO has to follow these events very closely, and the mobilization of these forces is one reason why the A?lliance is building readiness and deploying command and control units in its eastern member nations. “We are responding to what we see,” he said. NATO Allied Command Transformation boss French Gen. Jean-Paul Palomeros said NATO practices “full transparency” with its exercises and welcomes observers, noting this coming October the Alliance will begin Exercise Trident Juncture 2015 in Spain, Portugal, and Italy, involving some 30,000 troops in a test of the NATO Response Force.