NATO’s Stoltenberg Claims Defender-Europe Exercise Not Aimed at Russia
Feb. 3, 2020 (EIRNS)—NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is reported to have claimed this morning that the giant Defender-Europe 2020 exercise, scheduled for this Spring and to be centered in Poland, is not aimed at Russia. The exercise “shows the strong U.S. commitment to NATO and to the freedom and security of Europe,” he said according to AFP. “Defender-Europe is not directed against any particular country. This defensive exercise demonstrates the ability to rapidly move a large force from the United States to Europe to help protect other NATO Allies, if needed.”
Stoltenberg underlined that NATO members Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia celebrated their 30th anniversary of independence this year, referring to the three Baltic states’ split from the Soviet Union. “Russia has every right to feel safe within its borders, but so do our member states,” said Stoltenberg. A NATO official said there was nothing to be read into the fact that the exercise was taking place during the Moscow celebrations for the 75th anniversary of the Soviets’ victory over Nazi Germany on May 9. “The exercise will take place from February to June,” an official said. “This is the time when many military exercises are held each year.”
The Russians, meanwhile, are continuing work to meet the threat they see coming from NATO. Russian Deputy Defense Minister Aleksey Krivoruchko, writing in the January edition of the magazine Radio-Electronic Technologies issued by the KRET Group, reported that the new RS-28 Sarmat ICBM will go into service in 2021, reported TASS. The Sarmat has a range of 18,000 km and is said to be able to approach its target from different directions, complicating interception.
In terms of exercises, a Russian naval task force will be conducting a missile defense exercise in the Norwegian Sea. The Barents Observer, citing Norwegian sources, reports that the large missile cruiser Admiral Ustinov and the destroyer Vice-Admiral Kulakov will participate in the exercise and that the Russian Defense Ministry has issued NOTAMs (Notice to Airmen) warning civilian aviation operators of possible live-fire missile launches over Feb. 5-7. The two Russian ships recently passed the English Channel after exercises in the Bay of Biscay and earlier in the Mediterranean.