On Monday NATO announced it has put its forces on “standby” while initiating deployment of additional ships and fighter jets to Eastern Europe. “NATO will continue to take all necessary measures to protect and defend all Allies, including by reinforcing the eastern part of the Alliance,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement.
“We will always respond to any deterioration of our security environment, including through strengthening our collective defense,” Stoltenberg added, while discussing the ongoing Russia-Ukraine showdown, which the Kremlin has denounced as hype and based on false allegations it’s planning an invasion. The Kremlin has further reiterated its plea for Western countries to stop the “hysteria”, which itself is hyping the crisis further. One NATO diplomat has been cited in reports Monday saying the Biden administration is mulling a move to transfer some troops from Western Europe to Eastern Europe in the coming weeks.
But the Western allies are also pointing to the additional Russian military units now deployed to Belarus in preparation for the announced joint war games to be held there next month. “We are reaching the point where continuous Russian and Belarusian military buildup in Europe needs to be addressed by appropriate NATO countermeasures,” Latvia’s Foreign Affairs minister Edgars Rinkēvič stated Monday.
In its official statement, NATO headquarters detailed which assets that European alliance members have begun to send toward the region, including to the Baltic Sea and Eastern Europe:
In the past days, a number of Allies have made announcements regarding current or upcoming deployments. Denmark is sending a frigate to the Baltic Sea and is set to deploy four F-16 fighter jets to Lithuania in support of NATO’s long-standing air-policing mission in the region. Spain is sending ships to join NATO naval forces and is considering sending fighter jets to Bulgaria. France has expressed its readiness to send troops to Romania under NATO command. The Netherlands is sending two F-35 fighter aircraft to Bulgaria from April to support NATO’s air-policing activities in the region, and is putting a ship and land-based units on standby for NATO’s Response Force. The United States has also made clear that it is considering increasing its military presence in the eastern part of the Alliance.
Thus given the scant number of actual aircraft and ships being sent, it appears the above is part of yet more posturing on the level of a ‘threatened’ military build-up… rhetoric that’s become almost the norm for the past days and weeks.
Does Biden want a World War 3? https://t.co/vc00fFsFSo
— Dr Taylor Marshall™️ (@TaylorRMarshall) January 24, 2022
Still, it’s a dangerous enough situation for some countries to begin drawing down embassy staff in Kiev. After Sunday it was confirmed the US has begun ordering families of diplomatic personnel out of Ukraine, and the UK Foreign Office also announced Monday that some of its staff and dependents are withdrawing.
“Officials say there have been no specific threats to British diplomats, but about half of the staff working in Kyiv will return to the UK,” BBC noted of the move. This after the US claimed starting last week that a Russian invasion could come “at any time”.
Meanwhile, it appears Russia’s response to the NATO build-up will come in the form of naval drills, with Interfax reporting Monday that twenty Russian Navy ships have deployed to conduct drills and movements in the Baltic Sea.
BREAKING: @STRIKFORNATO and U.S. Sixth Fleet commenced @NATO-led activity #NeptuneStrike22 from the SIXTHFLT flagship #USSMountWhitney (LCC 20), Jan. 24.⚓️
For more: https://t.co/4tRzGcjhtX
Stay tuned to this and NATO channels for more info in the coming days! #WeAreNATO pic.twitter.com/Lu2b9ZpeGu
— U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. Sixth Fleet (@USNavyEurope) January 24, 2022
The carrier group led by the USS Truman is at the same time spearheading NATO military exercises in the Mediterranean, to the south… A Pentagon statement said, “Starting Monday, NATO allies, including the United States, kick off the 12-day maritime exercise Neptune Strike ’22 in the Mediterranean Sea, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said during a briefing today.”