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US soldiers arrive in Lithuania to ‘reassure’ NATO allies amid Ukrainian crisis

Published time: April 26, 2014 13:56
American soldiers stand on the tarmac after arriving at the air force base near Siauliai Zuokniai, Lithuania, on April 26, 2014. (AFP Photo/Petras Malukas)

American soldiers stand on the tarmac after arriving at the air force base near Siauliai Zuokniai, Lithuania, on April 26, 2014. (AFP Photo/Petras Malukas)

American troops have arrived in Lithuania for military drills as tensions rise in the region over Ukraine. Russia has voiced its concern over the troop buildup in Eastern Europe as well as to the deployment of NATO ships in the Black Sea.

The Lithuanian government welcomed the arrival of 150 troops at the Lithuanian Air Force Aviation Base in Siauliai on Saturday, reported Reuters. Referring to the escalating tensions in Ukraine, President Dalia Grybauskaite said “we know in this situation who our real friends are coming to help."

"If any of our guests are injured, it would mean an open confrontation not with Lithuania but with the United States," she added. The group of troops is part of a larger contingent of 600 troops that have been deployed throughout Eastern Europe to reassure NATO allies. Another company of soldiers arrived in Poland on Wednesday and in Latvia on Friday. Troops are also expected to arrive in Estonia on Monday.

"It's a message to anyone who will listen, and the message is that the United States of America will honor its commitments to Lithuania,” Richard Longo, Deputy Commanding General of US Army Europe, told reporters in Siauliai.
According to the Lithuanian Defense Ministry the soldiers will conduct a number of military exercises throughout this year.

US soldiers walk at the airport after arriving at the air force base near Siauliai Zuokniai, Lithuania, on April 26, 2014. (AFP Photo/Petras Malukas)

The US Department of Defense announced the drills on Tuesday, saying they sent a clear message to Moscow.
"If there's a message to Moscow, it is the same exact message that we take our obligations very, very seriously on the continent of Europe," Kirby told reporters. Washington has accused Russia of meddling in the affairs of neighboring Ukraine, which is currently embroiled in a crisis that shows no signs of abating.

Russia denies it has any involvement in the Ukrainian conflict and has alleged that the US is “running the show.” In addition, Moscow has spoken out against the buildup of allied force troops in Eastern Europe, saying their war games will not help to normalize the situation in Ukraine.

“Our concern is caused by an increase of US air force and military personnel in the Baltic, Poland, and also the Alliance's ships in the Black Sea,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement, quoting General Valery Gerasimov who spoke with his American counterpart on Friday.

The US has also deployed frigate USS Taylor in the Black Sea, which will shortly be joined by French NATO vessel Dupleix. France will also send four fighter jets to participate in aerial patrols over the Baltics.

Lithuanian soldiers and US soldiers stand in front of an aircraft of the US air force at the air force base near Siauliai Zuokniai, Lithuania, on April 26, 2014. (AFP Photo/Petras Malukas)

Moscow has voiced its concern over the Ukrainian government troops that have been deployed in the East of the country as part of an “anti-terror” operation. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said 11,000 Ukrainian soldiers, 160 tanks, 230 armored carriers and at least 150 artillery pieces have been deployed in the region. At least five people have been killed so far during the Ukrainian operation.

In response to the buildup of troops close to its borders, Shoigu said Russia was “forced” to begin military drills on Thursday.

Moscow does not recognize Kiev’s coup-appointed government and has decried the use of force against Ukrainian civilians in the east of the country.

Comments (281)


George Bowling 05.06.2014 12:28

@Byron Nelson. Part I@Byron Nelson.. Hey WTF are you somokin' anyway. An ex KGB officer..and? Compare his honesty to Our "Leader" Pres. O, and gimmie a score? 9-0 maybe. Is Guantanmo still open? Did they investigate 9.11, did they really check out the JFK story, was Osama Bin Laden in the Body bag slipped over the side?,


Lynden Buchanan 16.05.2014 09:07

All anybody wants is for a peacefull outcome ,I am sure every mother wants their children safe ,I know that I do. Julie Felex sings a song about when 100 men went off to war and nobody cared ,then when all mankind went off to war people realised that everyone should have cared when 100 men went off to war, So people should maybe start caring right now about what is happening and not waste time blaming everyone else.But that is my opinion.


Alexander Vyacheslavovich Evans 02.05.2014 23:55

Byron, can you back up your accusation that Russia is the aggressor? Russia has rights to have troops on its own border when there is obvious conflict in the region. On the other hand, US and NATO are moving troops and heavy equipment half way around the world. Imagine there was a conflict in Venezuela, and Russia moved its troops in the Caribbean. There are no facts to back up accusations of Russian direct involvement in eastern Ukraine, however, US admitted that the head of CIA was in Kiev before all this broke out. And the only time the two nations met on the battlefield was when they were on the same side.

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