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.
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

Afghanistan, Pakistan Leaders to Hold Icebreaking Talks in Paris

Two sides are expected to discuss ways to ease bilateral tensions and jointly work for resumption of stalled peace talks between Afghan government and Taliban officials

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs