Saturday, November 22, 2014

• UK and Poland hold joint military exercises in western Poland

NATO allies UK and Poland hold biggest military training exercises in eastern Europe for 6 years

Over two thousand British and Polish soldiers have been taking part in joint military exercises in west Poland. The training - named 'Black Eagle' - is the largest armoured deployment in eastern Europe for six years.

Colonel Maciej Jablonski, Polish military commander: "For us most important during this 'Black Eagle' exercise, 'Black Eagle' training, was to train my staff, my headquarters as well as my troops, to be ready to operate within the other allied forces. We train using the same procedures, procedure the NATO-1 of course."

UK military chiefs were enthusiastic about the joint drills held by the two NATO allies, which also included over 300 military vehicles.

General Nicholas Carter, UK military commander: "What we didn't used to do in those days, though, was to exercise with the Polish army. And the difference here of course is doing it with the Polish army and that's a really tremendous opportunity for us. And everybody's learned a lot about each other, made a lot of friendship, and frankly, that, I think, is the future. It's in NATO. And it's important to us."

NATO recently announced plans for a rapid response force to be permanently present in eastern Europe. The move follows concern from Poland, Romania and the three Baltic states over Russia's military invasion of nearby Ukraine.

Germany has accused Moscow of fomenting strife in eastern Ukraine after a senior insurgent leader said the Kremlin was helping finance public services in Donetsk. Russian officials have for months implausibly denied supplying insurgents in Donbas with military hardware and ammunition. The admission follows an interview with Russian secret service veteran Ihor Strelkov, also known as Igor Gurkin, who in March oversaw the capture of government buildings in Donetsk region. Strelkov, who has become a cult figure among Russian mercenaries since his demise this summer, openly acknowledged receiving financial and military assistance from the Kremlin.

NATO has demanded the Russian military pull back its forces deployed inside Ukraine and on the Russian border. Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s Secretary General, made the comments during a visit to the alliance’s air traffic control centre in Lithuania, accompanied by Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite.