Russia Warns NATO Drills 'Problem' as US Attack Planes Buzz Poland
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Four US A-10 Thunderbolt II attack planes are taking part in war games in Poland, as the nation expects about 10,000 NATO forces at drills this year. Moscow says the military build-up at Russia’s borders will have a negative long-term impact.
The A-10 aircraft are based in western Poland, at an airbase in Powidz, where they will be involved in a series of training missions until Friday, Polish army spokesman Artur Golawski said.
The planes – designed to attack tanks, armored vehicles and other ground targets – arrived at the 33rd Powidz Transport Air Base on Tuesday, according to The Aviationist. They followed two C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft, RT reported.
On Wednesday, Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak (who is also deputy prime minister) said that he approved of the constant presence of NATO troops in his country. “We are striving for it and we are talking about it. We are preparing ground for the constant presence,” TASS quoted him as saying. Around 10,000 allied forces are expected to take part in this year's drills.
The military exercises are supposed to come as a part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, which aims at "reassuring NATO allies and partners of America's dedication to enduring peace and stability in the region" following the recent developments in Ukraine.
Last Saturday, Lithuania’s capital Vilnius saw the start of operation Dragoon Ride – a convoy of US military vehicles, mostly IAV Stryker APCs, heading to a base in the German town of Vilseck in Bavaria via Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Latvia and the Czech Republic. Lt. Gen Ben Hodges, the commanding general of US Army Europe, described the route as NATO's Eastern European allies "that live closest to the Bear."
In the Czech Republic, where anti-war activists launched the 'Tanks? No thanks!' campaign in order to protest against what they called a "provocative victory parade" near the Russian border, people were instructed not to throw tomatoes or eggs at a US military convoy, as they could face charges of up to three years behind bars.
Dragoon Ride demonstrated its weapons and military equipment, including Stryker armored fighting vehicles and Humvee military automobiles, in Lithuania, making stops in six cities. It continued its procession in Poland, where it was accompanied by military gendarmerie and military helicopters.
This week, the air forces of Finland and the US have started joint military exercises, later to be joined by Sweden. The drills are mainly taking place in the skies above the sea, not far from the western coast of Finland, and will also occur in international airspace.
At the beginning of March, six NATO warships participated in naval drills in the Black Sea. The operation, headed by the US, included anti-air and anti-submarine exercises. The 3.5 month series of joint exercises commenced in Bulgaria. About 350 US army officers, as well as US tanks, helicopters and armored personnel carriers, came for the drills.