The United States has begun a new military exercise with Estonia amid no indication of a Russian troop pullback from its border with Ukraine.
Pentagon Spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren announced yesterday that Exercise Spring Storm began earlier this week. At the same time, he said there has been no change in the Russian posture along the country’s border with Ukraine, despite statements from two days ago by President Vladimir Putin that Russian forces would pull back from the area.
Spring Storm is the latest exercise announced by the Pentagon since Russia annexed Crimea in March and is aimed at reassuring the region of NATO’s resolve. Warren called the exercise with the NATO ally “the first of three annual, multinational and bilateral exercises that will occur in the Baltic region,” with U.S. Special operations forces training with their Estonian counterparts.
Two more bilateral special operations exercises, Flaming Sword and Namejs, will be held over the next two months. More information about these exercises will become available later, Warren said.
There are 41 personnel participating in Exercise Spring Storm, officials said. Exercise Flaming Sword will involve 140 personnel.
U.S. special operations forces will also participate in a number of joint, combined exchange training events in five countries throughout the Baltic republics and Eastern Europe through the next two months. Eight countries which are participating in this training are: Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the United States.
The exchanges give American special operators valuable experience in the language and culture of the region and provide opportunity to hone their tactical skills with NATO allies, Warren said.
In the Black Sea, the USS Taylor, an Oliver Hazard-class destroyer, arrived at the Georgian port of Batumi yesterday.
“While in Georgia, Taylor will conduct training with the Georgian coast guard,” Warren said.
Press Release, May 9, 2014; Image: Wikimedia