News / Europe

US-Polish War Games Start, Bad Weather Delays Naval Drills

Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski,left, and the commander of Poland’s Air Force, Gen. Lech Majewski visit Lask airbase, central Poland, March 11, 2014.
Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski,left, and the commander of Poland’s Air Force, Gen. Lech Majewski visit Lask airbase, central Poland, March 11, 2014.
Reuters
The United States and Poland began wargames on Tuesday as Washington makes a gesture of support for its eastern NATO allies after Russia's intervention in Ukraine, but bad weather delayed naval maneuvers with Romania and Bulgaria.
 
Without naming neighboring Ukraine, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski called on his country's political parties to safeguard defense spending at a time of budget constraints due to the “events to the east”.
 
The United States says both the air drills in Poland and its joint naval exercises in the Black Sea were planned before the crisis in Ukraine. But they send a message of resolve to NATO members nervous about Russia's intentions in its former Cold War backyard, along with separate reconnaissance flights over Poland and Romania near the Ukrainian border.
 
At the Lask base in central Poland, Komorowski watched as four Polish F-16s took to the air. A U.S. Hercules transport plane landed with support staff and at least 12 U.S. F-16 fighter jets and 300 personnel are due to arrive by Thursday for the exercises, beefed up at Warsaw's request after Russian forces seized control in Crimea.
 
Flanked by a handful of U.S. soldiers, Komorowski stressed the need to maintain defense spending in Poland, a staunch U.S. ally still haunted by decades of Russian domination during the Cold War. “I hope events to the east of the Polish border, which is also NATO's border, will encourage tough decisions regarding Polish security,” he told reporters.
 
Military funding in Poland, which marks the 15th anniversary of its accession to NATO on Wednesday, is under pressure.
 
Komorowski urged all parties to safeguard annual defense spending set by Polish law at 1.95 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). The parties are reluctant to cut back on welfare as an alternative before municipal and European Parliament elections this year and Polish parliamentary polls in 2015.
 
To the south, strong winds and high seas put back the Black Sea exercises by 24 hours, the Bulgarian defense ministry said. “The weather is now improving, the sea is not that rough and I don't expect another postponement,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Dimitar Titev.
 
The USS Truxtun, a guided-missile destroyer with about 300 crew, had been due to join the drill in international waters southeast of the Romanian port of Constanta, some 350 km (220 miles) from Russian forces in Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.
 
Reconnaissance flights
 
The exercises underline Washington's lead role in the international response to Russia's actions in Ukraine, where political forces determined to take Kiev westwards to Europe have taken power after the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovich.
 
The European Union, hampered by the need for consensus among its 28 members and their economic inter-dependence with Russia, has been less bold. The Kremlin has said it acted to protect Russian citizens in Crimea from attack, and denies invading the region.
 
In a separate deployment since the Ukraine crisis began, extra U.S. military aircraft have arrived in Lithuania to take part in regular NATO air patrols over the Baltic states.
 
The alliance also said on Monday that it would start reconnaissance flights over Poland and Romania to monitor the situation in neighboring Ukraine.
 
NATO ambassadors gave the go-ahead to the AWACS flights, acting on a recommendation by the alliance's top military commander, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, a NATO spokesman said.
 
Speaking on Monday at a Polish rocket defense site, not far from the Russian Baltic Fleet's base at Kaliningrad, Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak said the air exercise was to have been smaller, involving only transport aircraft.
 
But Siemoniak said that after the Russian military intervention in Crimea, Warsaw asked the Pentagon to send fighter jets instead.
 
“This was our request,” said Siemoniak. “We really appreciate that the reaction was that quick and significant.”
 
The USS Truxtun, part of the U.S. Sixth Fleet headquartered in Italy, is due to join the Bulgarian naval frigate Drazki and three Romanian vessels in the Black Sea drills.
 
It had been expected to visit the Bulgarian port of Varna March 12-14, but Titev said he was unable to confirm when it would arrive after bad weather closed the port on Monday. It was not expected the exercise would involve any live-firing.

You May Like

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Five-Nation Tour to Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of state will visit Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam to discuss security issues, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs