The media is awash with stories hyping Russia’s troop buildup around Ukraine and the 30,000 soldiers deploying to Belarus for military drills. Yet, the corporate press has dedicated virtually no coverage to the ongoing series of NATO and Ukrainian war games simulating battles with Moscow.
In a move not seen since the Cold War, the US placed the USS Truman aircraft carrier strike group under the command of NATO. The ship is currently a part of “Neptune Strike”’ naval war maneuvers alongside French and Italian counterparts – what amounts to a massive NATO armada in the Mediterranean Sea.
In Ukraine, the army has mobilized its 250,000 troops and deployed many near the separatist-held Donbas region. The buildup on the line of control in the country’s east has provoked anxiety among the Russian-backed rebels, leading one major commander to request the deployment of 30,000 Russian troops.
The US, UK, and Canada all have military trainers deployed to Ukraine, with the Florida National Guard training local troops to use bunker-busting rockets. Kyiv is matching the Russian war games in Belarus with its own 30,000-troop drills set to begin later this week and run until February 20.
Meanwhile, the French and British have sent troops to Estonia for the “Winter Camp” military drills taking place just 60 miles from Russian territory. The US also deployed six F-15s to Estonia, increasing its armed presence on Russia’s border.
The largest ongoing mobilization of NATO-allied troops is for the “Allied Spirit” drills in Germany – aerial war games that will involve 5,200 soldiers from 15 different countries. Though most of the drills occur closer to Russia’s borders, some are set for the US as well, with Latvian soldiers traveling to Michigan to train with the National Guard for an exercise dubbed “Winter Strike.”
While all of the training drills envision a Russian opponent, the Western press rarely even bothers to cover them, much less frame the war games as NATO or American Aggression. The same drills have not gone unnoticed in Russia, however, and it should be little surprise that many of Moscow’s “aggressive” actions are replays of – and in some cases reactions to – previous NATO provocations.
Will Porter contributed to this article.
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