Words by Wes O'Donnell.
U.S. involvement in Eastern Europe is quickly becoming a very plausible possibility. NATO talks of ways to respond to the Russian military threat against Ukraine have led top military officials to present the idea of deployment to alliance member states by all of the NATO nations, this would include United States.
Leaders of the countries in close proximity to Ukraine are showing concern for the safety of their nations as well. NATO members are wanting assurance from the 28 nation alliance that they will have support from their allied partners should the need arise. US Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove has been given the task to inform the NATO members what steps would be taken to provide assurance for our eastern allies. Tuesday is the deadline given to the General to deliver these plans. As it looks now a complete land, air and maritime presence will be considered to secure allied countries. As far as the US involvement in these plans, General Breedlove states that he would not rule out any nation’s involvement including ours.
All these talks are in response to Russia's taking of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula back in March. Massive troops have been gathered along the Ukraine border with the apparent goal of keeping the pressure on the government in Kiev but there also is the possibility of military use. Since that time to the present, the Russian military presence at the Ukraine border has not decreased in intensity or size.
Disturbing satellite images taken in late March have shown Russian forces including warplanes, artillery, armor, combat helicopters and possibly a special forces or airborne brigade located in the area east of the Ukraine-Russian border as well as along the coast of the Sea of Azov. These images, however, cannot pinpoint exactly the number of forces built-up along the border area. Analyst have revealed that these forces do not appear to be participating in training exercises and do appear to be combat ready. This force appears to be approximately 40,000 strong and combines types of arms that could move quickly and carry out any military objectives given. Among the Russian resources are rotary wing aircrafts, artillery, field hospitals as well as communications and jamming equipment.
It is still unknown exactly what Russia's intentions are. Speculation has ranged anywhere from just keeping an intimidating presence, possibly creating a land bridge with Crimea or potentially invading other areas in eastern Ukraine in which ethnic Russians are crying out for unity with Russia.
Regardless of intention, the fact still remains that Russia is capable and ready to make a quick assault with a given command. So far NATO member countries have already increased Baltic air patrols as well as perform AWACS surveillance flights over Romania and Poland every day to keep an eye on any potential engagement. Also enough maritime asset support has been pledged by NATO members to keep the maritime presence at a high throughout the rest of this year. The difficult key to the plan is coming up with the most effective way to safeguard the land. Whereas air and sea presence shows a defensive stance, involvement on the land can be interpreted as challenging and offensive in nature, not to mention come at a great monetary cost. The primary goal is to provide defense and assurance of safety without creating the appearance of instigation.