Wednesday, August 19, 2015

War In Ukraine? U.S. Sends Fresh Tanks, Planes, Troops To Europe As 'Message' To Moscow, Kiev Gathers Huge 65,000-Strong Army On Frontline Near Donetsk

US sends fresh tanks, planes, troops to Europe as ‘message’ to Moscow | Herald Sun

THE United States has raised the stakes in staring down an increasingly hostile Kremlin, sending another wave of tanks, planes and troops to reinforce a nervous Europe.
At the weekend, the United States air force also declared it will be sending another 12 A-10 Thunderbolt II ground attack planes to reinforce NATO’s Operation Atlantic Resolve — an ongoing show of force aimed at deterring mounting Russian hostility towards Ukraine and East European states.
The largest airborne troop deployment drills since the Cold War has also kicked off this week, involving 5000 soldiers from 11 NATO nations. The four-week ‘simultaneous multinational airborne operation’ Swift Response 15 will see war-games taking place across Germany, Italy, Bulgaria and Romania.
The exercises come as new main battle tanks, howitzer artillery and armoured reconnaissance vehicles of a US Marine Corps Combined Arms Company arrive in Bulgaria to bolster the existing unit of 260 troops based there.
“The initiative is meant to soothe NATO allies concerned with Russian military aggression following the forceful 2014 annexation of Crimea.,” the Marine Corps Times reports.
The military manoeuvres represent the highest tensions between East and West since the Cold War ended more than two decades ago.

Crisis in Ukraine

Russia has not taken kindly to the West’s response to its ambitions.
The US declared earlier this year it will be “forward deploying” 1200 pieces of military equipment — including 250 tanks — into Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and the Baltic States, along with 5000 troops, to counter Russian aggression.
In retaliation, Moscow has threatened to mass more tanks and troops on its own borders. It says short range ballistic missiles will now be based in Kaliningrad, putting Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia within their reach.

The US Marine Corps heavy equipment arriving in Bulgaria this week as part of the US military build-up in Europe includes four M1 Abrams main battle tanks, six LAV-25 armoured scout vehicles and three M-777 155mm howitzers.
The Marine unit is expected to engage in training exercises with Romanian and Bulgarian troops. Negotiations are underway to include forces from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Georgia — all states which have been the subject of threatening rhetoric from Moscow in recent months.
But there’s more to come.
NATO will be conducting yet another enormous exercise in October and November. This time it’s called Trident Juncture 15. It’ will be the biggest exercise in more than a decade.
Involving more than 36,000 troops from 30 nations — including Australia — the exercise will mostly take place in Spain, Italy and Portugal.
It’s intended to ensure the many diverse nations have integrated their militaries sufficiently to respond rapidly to an evolving crisis.

With the Minsk ceasefire agreements formally still in force, the situation in eastern Ukraine's Donbass region remains extremely tense amid reports about Kiev's mass troop deployments in the area.

In violation of the Minsk ceasefire agreements, the Armed Forces of Ukraine has deployed heavy weapons and a large number of troops to the frontline in eastern Ukraine's Donbass region, Russian media outlets said.

The reports came amid intensified artillery shelling exchanges between the warring sides in the area, including near the city of Mariupol.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine has deployed a considerable number of men along the entire frontline, estimated to comprise of about 65,000 soldiers and officers of different subordination, level of training and motivation.
This number includes between 68 and 70 battalions, comprised of 26 battalion groups plus separate company units.

The Ukrainian army's General Staff finally shifted to the battalion group tactics, reshuffling various kinds of troops after defeat in Debaltsevo.
Given this development, the army's recent shelling of the village of Sartana on the outskirts of Mariupol can be seen as nothing more than an attempt to drill the interaction of these battalion groups.
Right now, several army brigades remain on the frontline, including the 24th Separate Motorized Infantry Brigade and the 92nd Motorized Infantry Brigade, armed with eighteen Grad multiple launch rocket systems and self-propelled artillery platforms, as well as six tanks, ten armored personnel carriers, six howitzers, anti-aircraft guns, plus lots of small arms and anti-tank weapons.
These troops also comprise the 122nd separate battalion and the 95th separate airmobile brigade and the 25th brigade, which is equipped with mothballed armored personnel carriers, including the BTR-70.
The battalion groups include a whole array of company units related to tank, artillery, marine and National Guard troops as well as special units of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry.
All of these brigades form a 65,000-strong army, which includes more than 400 tanks, about 2,400 armored vehicles, 132 Grad multiple launch rocket systems and over 800 guns and mortars.
The current situation is reminiscent of autumn 2014, which also saw heavy shelling between the conflicting parties and the massive deployment of troops near the frontline.

The second Ukrainian ceasefire appears to have fallen apart as reports from around the country indicate that heavy fighting has resumed.

Though Western media has yet to report on activity that began Sunday, independent journalists and eye witnesses have been updating social networks with photos, videos and first-hand accounts.

It's all-out war in the Ukraine, with multiple Ukrainian cities now under attack by rockets, mortars and heavy artillery fire

Other sources note that as many as 50,000 Russian military personnel have massed either inside of Ukraine or directly on its border, with heavy armor, including T-90A tanks making their way to the hot zones:

Sources on twitter are confirming that Russian T90-A tanks are beginning to move into the Ukraine and heading for the city of Donetsk to reinforce rebel held (pro-Russian) positions.
Current intelligence suggests that once Russian military hardware reaches Donetsk, a battle for the strategic port city of Mariupol Ukraine will commence. Mariupol, steel-making city of 500,000 is the biggest, urban center in the conflict zone still controlled by Kiev.
Fighting and a major war resumption in Ukraine is underway, as noted by Mish Shedlock:

  • Intense shelling from multiple positions started in #Donetsk
  • South of #Donetsk very heavy combat, I see lots of explosions there, very scary
  • Intense shelling started also in #Starohnativka.
  • #Mariupol can hear heavy shelling from the east.
  • Intensity of Ukrainian shellings on #Putilovka and #Spartak is increasing!
  • Ukrainian shellings on #Sahanka and #Oktyabr (with MRLS Grad)! East of #Mariupol

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