Introduction — July 28, 2014
The West continues its efforts to isolate Russia and encroach militarily on its neighbouring territories. In recent months Britain and France have deployed fighter jets for routine patrols over the Baltics, while in June NATO deployed troops and tanks for war games in Latvia.
Now British Defence Minister Michael Fallon has announced that over 1,300 troops and more than 350 military vehicles, including some armour, will be deployed to Poland for military manoeuvres in the coming months.
The drills seem intended to reassure NATO’s new-found allies in eastern Europe who are increasingly nervous over Russia’s possible response to the growing crisis in Ukraine.
However, a couple of minor points need to be noted. Strictly speaking Russia did not “annex” the Crimea, as the following report claims.
The Crimea had been part of Russia since the time of Catherine the Great (1729-1796). After the 1917 it became a Soviet Republic and only in 1954 was it transferred to the then Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.
However, its inhabitants are predominately Russian-speaking and they VOTED overwhelmingly on March 16, 2014, to rejoin Russia after Kiev began shifting to the West. So to claim the Russia “annexed” Crimea is a gross misrepresentation of what actually happened.
According to my compact Oxford English Dictionary annex means to “seize (territory) and add it to one’s own”, which is hardly what happened with Crimea.
Britain Sends 1,300 Troops to Eastern Europe for ‘Exercise Black Eagle’
Matt Chorley — Daily Mail July 28, 2014
Britain is to send more than 1,300 British troops to eastern Europe as a show of strength against Russia’s annexation of Crimea and ‘destabilisation’ of eastern Ukraine.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon announced the details of Exercise Black Eagle in Poland, as EU member states prepare to impose tough sanctions on Russia’s financial, defence and the hi-tech energy sectors.
David Cameron warned Britain must accept some economic ‘pain’ from the crackdown, as it emerged tomorrow he will meet families of the 10 Britons killed when Malyasian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine.
Mr Cameron is pushing for a tougher crackdown on Moscow, with travel bans and asset freezes aimed at the ‘cronies’ of Vladimir Putin whose billions depend on their influence in the Kremlin.
In an escalation of tensions with Russia, ministers unveiled details of what they are calling Exercise Black Eagle.
At least 1,350 personnel and more than 350 armoured and other vehicles will be sent to Poland in October, but the Ministry of Defence refused to give details of where the exercise would take place.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said it would be the largest British commitment to the region since 2008.
The UK has already deployed RAF Typhoon jets to the Nato Baltic Air Policing mission.
And at the end of light infantry troops from 1st Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment will take part in Exercise Sabre Junction in Poland, a US-led exercise involving 16 Nato and partner nation.
Last week it emerged General Philip Breedlove, Nato’s top commander in Europe, had drawn up plans to create a new beefed-up HQ in Poland to allow for a swift response to any new threat from Russia.
Speaking on a visit to Warsaw, Mr Fallon said that it was important to underline Nato’s commitment to the collective security of its members at a time of heightened tensions in the region.
‘It is right that Nato members and partners demonstrate our commitment to the collective security of our allies in Eastern Europe,’ he said.
‘In particular, the commitment of a battle group to Exercise Black Eagle shows our sustained and substantial support to Nato’s eastern border.’
He said that the issue would also be high on the agenda when Nato leaders gather for their summit in Wales in September.
‘We have a strong opportunity at the Nato summit to discuss how we will continue our response to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and its destabilisation of eastern Ukraine,’ he said.
‘The UK is playing a central role and we are not ruling out further enhancements.’