News / Europe

    NATO Commander Warns of Crimea 'Militarization'

    FILE - Soldiers in unmarked uniforms sit atop APC at the gate of the Belbek base near the port city of Sevastopol, Crimea, March 22, 2014.
    FILE - Soldiers in unmarked uniforms sit atop APC at the gate of the Belbek base near the port city of Sevastopol, Crimea, March 22, 2014.

    The top U.S. general in Europe said he is alarmed at the Russian militarization of the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea and by provocative Russian military flights in NATO airspace.

    After meeting with Ukrainian leaders in Kyiv, General Philip Breedlove, head of the U.S. European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, said the military buildup by Moscow includes cruise and surface-to-air missiles able to exert, as he put it, "military influence" on the region.

    “We are very concerned with the militarization of Crimea. We are concerned that the capabilities in Crimea that are being installed will bring an effect on  almost the entire Black Sea,” Breedlove said.

    U.S. General Philip Breedlove, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, speaks during a news conference in Kyiv, Nov. 26, 2014.U.S. General Philip Breedlove, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, speaks during a news conference in Kyiv, Nov. 26, 2014.
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    U.S. General Philip Breedlove, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, speaks during a news conference in Kyiv, Nov. 26, 2014.
    U.S. General Philip Breedlove, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, speaks during a news conference in Kyiv, Nov. 26, 2014.

    Breedlove also voiced concern about the nature of provocative Russian military flights being flown over NATO countries, although he stressed the flights are in international airspace.

    “The number and pattern has changed, maybe as much as three times as much as we have seen before,” he said. “Also, we see that some of these flights have increased in size, normally before seeing only one or two airplanes and now seeing groups of airplanes.”

    Increase in Russian fly-overs

    Last month, NATO reported an "unusual" spike in Russian military flights over the Black, Baltic and North seas and the Atlantic Ocean.

    Several European governments, including Britain’s, say they have scrambled jets in response to what NATO spokesmen describe as large-scale maneuvers. And they claim the Russian warplanes frequently fly with their transponders switched off, creating a potential hazard for commercial aircraft.

    According to NATO officials, alliance pilots have conducted over 100 intercepts of Russian aircraft this year – about three times more than in 2013 and an interception rate reminiscent of the Cold War.

    Tensions have been running high between NATO and Russia since Moscow began backing an insurgency by pro-Kremlin militants in eastern Ukraine.

    Breedlove four times shied away from revealing whether he thinks the Obama administration should supply Ukraine with arms and other lethal weaponry, as requested by Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko.   

    "We continue to look at the requirements here in Ukraine. We continue to advise and offer our thoughts on these, and nothing at this time is off the table," he said.

    This week, President Barack Obama’s nominee for the No. 2 slot in the U.S. State Department told American lawmakers during nomination hearings that he thinks the White House should consider arming Ukraine as a way of forcing Russia to rethink its policy toward its neighbor.

    Military aid package

    So far, the U.S. has restricted a $118 million military aid package to non-lethal items such as body armor and night vision devices, although it is also delivering three portable anti-mortar radar systems.

    The Kremlin, which denies it is fomenting the insurgency in the east or that Russian soldiers and armor have crossed the border, has warned that any arming of Ukraine by the U.S. would be seen as a provocation.

    Breedlove’s caution on whether the U.S. should now consider providing lethal aid will come as a disappointment to Ukrainian military commanders and leaders of volunteer battalions.

    Yuriy Bereza, commander of the Ukrainian Dnipro battalion, recently was in Washington seeking to persuade the administration to supply military equipment.

    He said he needs surveillance drones from America and Javelins – portable anti-tank missiles.

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    by: KoreyD from: Canada
    November 27, 2014 4:44 PM
    Russia has had a military base in Crimea for decades. It paid millions of dollars for the privilege just like the Americans do in 107 bases throughout the world. Russia has 7. As far as over flights are concerned, The US, France, Britain,China and others all do the same thing with China shooting down a US plane about 10 years ago and Iran downing a US drone a few years ago. As far as the rest of the rhetoric is concerned it is just theories and speculation formulated by the US for some else (Nato) to spout so as to give it a semblance of legitimacy.
    The aggression in this whole scenario has been the US and the west in it's support of the coup against Yanuchovich and his legitimately elected government. They gave a defacto recognition of the resulting rebel forces offices as the government of Ukraine and they continue to demonize Putin as the aggressor. There is only one main aggressor and that is the US. Just take a look at Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and now Syria to name just a few

    by: steve from: usa
    November 27, 2014 1:03 PM
    Russian aggression im sick to read this nonsense especially the people who promote war with Russia they gonna sit in the bunkers while everyone else dies use your brains by the nwo monument in the states for this world live in harmony the world population should be 500 mil people its a population control

    by: moomoocow from: Not USA
    November 27, 2014 11:50 AM
    NATO had an agreement with Russia that it would stop expanding after the Cold War ended. Checking out where the NATO bases are located today will easily identify the real warmonger. If one walks into a lion's den, one must expect to be mawed by the lion.Using a proxy as an excuse for conducting never ending wars is a tired and old hypocritical story. It is time for the plebeians to wake up and question the people they put in power.

    by: Billabong from: America
    November 27, 2014 10:32 AM
    Oh please, someone just claimed the current Kiev regime was legally voted in. Yes, legally voted in after the ethnic cleansing campaign assured that no pro-Russian voters would be voting and after of course, the illegal, the not democratic, ouster of an already legally voted in president. It is just overwhelming the fact that elections were already coming up at the end of the year and yet someone(s) was not willing to wait for scheduled elections and had to force their temporary president in by, um, well, not by voting or anything remotely democratic.

    Furthermore, I heard some ignorant fools say "I'm still waiting for the racial discrimination of ethnic Russian Putin was talking about"......Are your serious, Ukraine started up the draft and is in the begging stages of revamping its military and they currently have the majority of ethnic Russians in one Eastern region where they are surrounded and are being demoralized daily by constant shelling of civilians and civilian dwellings. I'm sure it was just by chance that a grade school was shelled on the first day of classes?????.
    In Response

    by: jimmy from: Canada
    November 27, 2014 6:32 PM
    Actually the people kicking out a government that went back on a major policy decision to join the EU is the very highest form of democracy. You should learn more and talk less.

    by: eulupu from: Detroit
    November 27, 2014 10:22 AM
    Yuri Bereza visiting Whasington that' s a good one! Since when American government deals with ultra nationalist MILITIA commanders ?? Or he was just shopping around with the arms dealers cheering him up!!

    by: ringoesman from: Princeton nj
    November 27, 2014 9:43 AM
    Putin is playing a very dangerous game. One mistake by a pilot, one "accidental" encounter and war between nato and Russia could break out.

    by: Mike from: Myrtle Beach, SC USA
    November 27, 2014 7:32 AM
    I still don't understand knowing its true that Russia has and is sending weapons to the rebels why then cant we send weapons to a true voted in legal government. If somebody does not stand up to Hitler I mean Putin this will get out of hand in my opinion.
    In Response

    by: Baldur Dasche from: canada
    November 27, 2014 10:10 AM
    Weapons aren't the problem in Ukraine. It has the largest arms manufacture factory east of Belgium. It manufactures everything from small arms to advanced fighters. The problem in Ukraine is money. It gets stolen very easily and no one wants to loan the Ukrainians any more than it takes to 'service' the significant debt they've 'stolen' already. Given a) an non-war (ATO) situation and b)a decade of investment, Ukraine might be able to bring itself up to NATO standard. American arms, at this point, would upset an already precarious apple-cart.

    by: Mezziah from: Aba, Abia State Nigeria
    November 27, 2014 7:00 AM
    please the problem at Eastern Ukraine should be handle with care and resolved as quick as possible

    by: Voplok from: Poland
    November 27, 2014 4:09 AM
    Dramatically reduce import of oil and gas of Russia! Russians are angry at products price,rate of dollar and euro,they are tired of their president. Push forward with sanctions and Putin will be go away....

    by: laker48 from: Canada
    November 27, 2014 12:21 AM
    Ukraine needs Javelin and Hellfire missiles, and Predator drones able to carry and launch Hellfires.
    Comments page of 2
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