Russia refuses NATO cooperation until US Army withdraws from border

Aircraft are loaded with equipment from the 10th Mountain Division's 10th Combat Aviation Brigade for the unit's pending deployment to Europe in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve. (Photo Credit: 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division)

Russia has protested the additional US troops sent to Europe to partake in NATO’s Operation Atlantic Resolve.

The US Army recently deployed 225 soldiers, 15 M1A2 Abrams tanks and six Bradley fighting vehicles to Latvia as part of the training exercise.

The soldiers from 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade, 4th Infantry Division replaced soldiers from the Italy-based 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, 173 Airborne Brigade in January, as part of a scheduled rotation.

Yesterday, the U.S. Army offloaded more than 700 pieces of equipment from 10th Mountain Division’s 10th Combat Aviation Brigade.  The brigade’s deployment was announced in early November and is bring nearly 2,000 soldiers to Europe for the exercise.

“We’re going to be all over Europe joining the Strong Europe team and integrating into their training plan for the next nine months,” Col. Clair A. Gill, 10th CAB commander, said previously.

When speaking of their armored counterparts who will be supporting the ground missions, he said, “We move faster than they do on the ground, and we shoot farther in some cases than some systems from the ground.”

The aviation brigade is expected to be part of a nine-month rotation from February until November.

Russia has strong condemned the operation, even going as far as giving NATO an ultimatum.

On Thursday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksey Meshkov said Russia will only engage with NATO European security members if the United States withdraws the additional troops.

“This deployment, of course, is a threat to us, first of all,” Meshkov said.  “It is evident that NATO steps greatly increases the danger of possible incidents … In general, we believe that the serious conversations with NATO on European security is only possible when the alliance returns to the situation which existed before its current buildup of military preparations in Eastern Europe.”

A statement from the US State Department describes the Atlantic Resolve mission as “a demonstration of continued US commitment to collective security through a series of actions designed to reassure NATO allies and partners of America’s dedication to enduring peace and stability in the region in light of the Russian intervention in Ukraine.”

Meshkov contends, “Those who pump Western armaments to the Balkan countries, drag them in to NATO contrary to the opinion of the majority of the population, as in the case with Montenegro, create an imbalance in the region.”

On Monday, Montenegro’s main opposition political party said it is going to organize a referendum on the country’s membership in NATO.

The Associated Press reports the people of Montenegro are evenly split between those supporting NATO and those denouncing the Western military alliance.

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