NATO’s European missile system goes online

May 6, 2016 6:00 pm

US Army F-22 Raptor jets land at the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, near Constanta, Romania, April 25, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

A new missile site operated by has been launched in Romania, bringing the Western military alliance’s European missile system online.
The missile system became operational on Thursday, a day before Poland broke ground on an additional NATO base in the country, which is anticipated to hold significant missile assets.
NATO is planned to hold major military drills in Poland and the Baltics later this year with a significant participation of US troops.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said earlier this week that the alliance would deploy “battalion-sized” multinational units throughout member states in NATO’s eastern flank in preparation for the drills.
The US and its allies have repeatedly claimed that the increasing military presence of NATO in Eastern has nothing to do with Russia. A former US official, however, has described the military buildup as a signal to Moscow.
“There will be a quite robust display of military power in Europe and allied resolve, and hopefully Moscow will see it for what it is, an alliance improving its capabilities,” said Derek Chollet, a former US defense official.
On Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reacted to the European military build-up, saying Russia cannot ignore actions that threaten it and will defend its interests.
“We have repeatedly said that a resurgent Russia is not a threat to anyone,” he told a conference call with journalists.
“But at the same time Russia certainly cannot ignore any actions that may pose a direct or potential threat to its national interests and, traditionally, the Russian side will defend its interests if need be.”
Russia and NATO have been locked in a deepening dispute.
NATO has stepped up its military build-up near Russia’s borders since it suspended all ties with Moscow in April 2014 after the Crimean Peninsula integrated into the Russian Federation following a referendum.
Moscow has long complained about NATO’s expansion to the east, saying such a move poses a threat to both regional and international peace.

US ships are seen being from Bulgaria to Georgia ahead of a joint exercise with the Eastern European country. (File photo)

US tanks in Georgia
Meanwhile, the US has shipped tanks from Bulgaria to the Georgian city of Batumi ahead of an upcoming joint military exercise with Georgia.
Some 650 US troops as well as 500 Georgian and 150 British soldiers will take part in the annual Noble Partner military exercises later this month.
Georgian Defense Minister Tinatin Khidasheli said in January that the drill shows Georgia supports US policies in the region.
Georgia is not a NATO member but has tried hard over the past few years to gain membership.
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