Ukraine

NATO May Permanently Station Troops in Eastern Europe; Russia Reportedly Removed Troops From Ukrainian Border

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NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe Philip Breedlove said that the military alliance may permanently station troops in Eastern European member countries due to the perceived threat of further Russian aggression against Ukraine. At the same time, Russian President Vladimir Putin says that he has withdrawn troops from Ukraine's eastern border.

Reuters reports that when asked about the possibility of a permanent presence of troops, Breedlove said the strategy "is something we have to consider" and will be discussed among alliance leaders to "see where that leads." He explained further:

We need to look at our responsiveness, our readiness and then our positioning of forces to be able to address this new paradigm that we have seen demonstrated in Crimea and now on the eastern border of Ukraine…. We are taking measures that should be very easily discerned as being defensive in nature. This is about assuring our allies, not provoking Russia, and we are communicating that at every level.

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The U.S., the largest supplier of both military personnel and funding for NATO, recently sent 600 troops throughout Poland, Lithuana, Latvia, and Estonia to conduct military exercises.

Earlier this week Breedlove speculated about Russian strategy in the destabilization of Ukraine. "I think the Russians have learned from what they saw Crimea, how quickly we were able to attack the false narrative and prove it incorrect; they're much quicker in Eastern Ukraine to get the local face on their actions after they have moved forward," he said, referring to Russian troops as "shadow soldiers" disguised to look like locals.

Putin made a surprising announcement today, though. Regarding the artillery, planes, and estimated 40,000 soldiers that have been amassed for months and explicitly used to threaten an invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin leader said, "We were told constantly about concerns over our troops near the Ukrainian border. We have pulled them back. Today they are not at the Ukrainian border but in places of regular exercises, at training grounds." He made the statement after a meeting with the president of Switzerland, Didier Burkhalter, who is also the head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. 

Click here for more Reason coverage of the crisis in Ukraine.

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  1. I’m pretty sure any such deployment would require the approval of the ‘most transparent administration in the history of the world’, right?

    1. Naw, we can put the French and German units…*stifles laughter*… sorry, we can put the French and German units as the front line, so only the EU unelecteds have to weigh in.

  2. At the same time, Russian President Vladimir Putin says that he has withdrawn troops from Ukraine’s eastern border.

    And the satellite images say?

    1. Irrespective of what the satellite images say, Putin can put the troops back just as quickly as he deployed them the first time.

  3. Putin is almost a funny guy, at times, because he seems to be openly mocking Obama. Besides that, he’s not so funny.

    1. General Breedlove is much funnier, acting as though 600 troops spread between Poland, Lithuana, Latvia, and Estonia is suppose to accomplish something besides earning them some travel expenses and the opportunity for cheaper hookers and beer.

      But lets keep on expanding NATO until every sad sack country with little capability to defend itself is part of the party, with the US paying the bill.

      1. We need to start charging those countries. “for expenses”

        1. UnCivilServant|5.7.14 @ 1:17PM|#
          “We need to start charging those countries. “for expenses””

          As I understand it, France had to hook a ride on US planes to fly their troops to Mali a couple of years ago, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we provided logistics support in general.
          Yes, we need to start charging.

        2. This could have legs.

          The US Military protection charge. Tired of defending your own country? Training expenses and potential European filled bodybags got you down? Well no more. Sign up for the US protection plan. For a mere $100B per year/per country, the United States will risk the lives of its young men and women and use its military might to defend your nation.

          No more investing in cutting edge technological weapons. Just pay a small fee and we’ll take care of all your warfighting needs for you with one easy annual payment.

          But wait, there’s more. Sign up today and receive one free droning of the “terrorist” of your choice. Limited time offer, void where prohibited, additional service charges may apply.

          Hell, we could slay the national debt by turning it into a business.

          1. Hello? Yes, my name is Ukraine and well, I heard your commercial on the radio the other day…

            1. Sorry, that’s a pre-existing condition, advance payments only. This ain’t Obamacare.

              1. “Sorry, that’s a pre-existing condition, advance payments only. This ain’t Obamacare.”

                FUNNY!

      2. Probably better hookers as well. I’ve heard the brothels in Berlin are awful. Although the Polish beer vs. German beer makes the calculus a wash.

        1. German hipsters have made Polish beer a thing in Berlin.

          And the only prostitute I met was a Bosniak.

          1. You need to check out the ‘hitchhikers’ in Italy.

      3. Deterrent. If Putin attacks the countries the 600 are stationed in, they’ll be placed into the attack/be attacked, and killing active-duty US military personnel earns Russia a suicide pill.

        1. I doubt if the US will nuke Russia even over 600 US troops, since Russia has their own nukes.

          1. Putin has it all figured out. He knows that the US government does not have time to waste on paying any attention to Russia, or any other thing going on around the world, as far as that goes. Because the US government is too busy spying on the real enemy, the American people.

          2. There won’t be nukes. Conventional warfare.

            1. Yep – Contrary to Putin’s tough talk, the Russian military absolutely sucks and would quickly lose a conventional war.

        2. If Putin attacks the countries the 600 are stationed in, they’ll be placed into the attack/be attacked, and killing active-duty US military personnel earns Russia a suicide pill.

          IOW, those 600 are just sacrificial. They’re not going to stop anything if Russia decides to attack, but their deaths will piss off enough of our fellow citizens to go to war.

          1. That’s the entire point.

            1. That was the entire point of US forces in Germany during the Cold War as well.

  4. Philip Breedlove

    *giggles*

    1. His aide-de-camp is Major Dirk Bottoms.

      1. *golf clap*

      2. The guy in the office across the hall is now glaring at me as I stifle laughter.

        1. He has a wife, you know…

  5. Dibs on being assigned to Prague.

    Swiss Servator, you wanna come out of retirement over with me and take the garrison command?

      1. *runs to closet in basement and begins packing ACUs and boots*

      2. I get started on the 4187…

        1. I’ll get started…

          TIWWNEB

  6. Hopefuly, Putin’s no suicidal. Practically declaring war on the United States would be rapid suicide. And I’m glad he seems to know it.

  7. So why is it our problem, again? It’s not like the Russians are going to ethnically cleanse the areas they annex. So humanitarian concerns are out the window.

    The national sovereignty of the Ukraine is something that should only concern Europe and they have plenty of military forces to check Russian aggression. Let them handle it.

    1. “It’s not like the Russians are going to ethnically cleanse the areas they annex.”

      -1 Crimean Tatar

      Not that that justifies our intervention, but don’t give Susan Rice any ammo…

      1. Some among the right miss the Cold War, more among the left miss the Soviet Union. So it’s win-win.

    2. It’s partly our problem because we’re NATO members and NATO has to at least pretend to perform the function that is the very reason for its existence.

      1. Ukraine isn’t in NATO

        1. The article said “Eastern European members.” I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that means NATO members.

        2. Ukraine isn’t part of NATO, largely because they declined accession under Russia’s direct influence, but the region is bracing to resist a more aggressive Russia.

          Estonia is NATO and Russian politicians have already made bellicose comments about Russian minorities in Estonia (the same justification they used for Ukraine).

          Finland and Sweden are currently hammering out a military pact as they aren’t NATO members, and are concerned about Russian aggression.

          1. Ukraine never got their shit together enough to join NATO.

            1. They were on track for accession but stalled out under Yushchenko and eventually declined it due to pressure from Russia. Putin specifically said they would take “retaliatory action.” Wikipedia mentions that Putin “allegedly” threatened to take Eastern Ukraine and Crimea if Ukraine pursued NATO membership.

              1. Sounds like they really dodged the bullet on that one.

                1. You have a funny definition of dodging a bullet… They followed Russian diktat and then not having a solid military alliance at their back, suffered the consequences of not following it.

                  I’m not saying I think it was in Ukraine’s best interests to defy Russia at that point, but they’ve definitely been screwed in this scenario.

                  1. Pssst – I think he was being sarcastic…

                    1. Sarcasmotron recalibration initiated.
                      ………….
                      Recalibration failed. Apply caffeine and reattempt.

                      If calibration errors persist, please contact your systems administrator.

                  2. You just dodged my sarcasm bullet.

                    1. You just dodged my sarcasm bullet.

                      I blame other websites. My baseline internet stupidity threshold is so high at this point it completely overwhelms my sarcasm sensors.

    3. It’s not like the Russians are going to ethnically cleanse the areas they annex.

      I’m not so sure about that, myself. They’ve done it before, and its been done recently in the neighborhood.

    4. So why is it our problem, again?

      Foreign entanglements?

  8. NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe Philip Breedlove said…

    …I expect and demand your very best. Anything less, you should have joined the Air Force.

  9. Similar thought

    I saw the picture and immediately thought, they entrust command of NATO to a USAF officer!

  10. Thank god Russia and Boko Harem stepped up. I thought the War Boner crowd was going to go flaccid there for a while.

  11. Putin hasn’t threatened to invade the Ukraine.

    He already has invaded the Ukraine, most especially that part of it known as “Crimea”.

    Why Reason tows the Russian lion on this issue, I have no idea.

    1. Yes, Crimea is no less an annexation than what happened with Austria and Czechoslovakia, except that maybe the local population is even less welcoming to the invader.

      1. Am I the only person who thinks that a transfer that served the ends of the Supreme Soviet but that would never have been made had Khrushchev thought the Soviet Union would dissolve into its constituent republics shouldn’t necessarily be viewed as written in stone?

        Obnoxious of Putin, yes. But this isn’t like Austria at all.

        1. I’m sympathetic to that way of looking at it. There is nothing magical or sacred about the international borders as they came to be after the end of the USSR and I certainly don’t think that they are worth much blood or treasure to maintain.

          1. There’s nothing magical or sacred about any borders, but if one country feels like it can lop off bits of other countries with impunity, that’s going to lead to less than optimal conditions for free trade and individual freedom in that part of the world. Is it our responsibility? Probably not, although we do have a gentleman’s agreement with Ukraine to protect its national integrity. Is it something we should be unhappy about? Absolutely.

            Related: Putin’s ‘Human Rights Council’ Accidentally Posts Real Crimean Election Results

            President of Russia’s Council on Civil Society and Human Rights […] posted a report that was quickly taken down […]. According to this purported report about the March referendum to annex Crimea, the turnout of Crimean voters was only 30 percent. And of these, only half voted for the referendum?meaning only 15 percent of Crimean citizens voted for annexation.

            1. That’s what really matters. Whether Russia can make some vague historical claim to the region or not, most of the people there don’t seem to want to be living under Russian rule. We’re not talking secession–that already happened.

              Not to mention that the Russians are lucky, mostly because of their nukes, that no one came in and demanded reparations. They did some horrific things to the occupied countries over the years, very akin to the results of Nazi rule. So I don’t want to hear about their “right” to reconquer lost territories.

              1. …”Whether Russia can make some vague historical claim to the region or not, most of the people there don’t seem to want to be living under Russian rule.”…

                If THAT is enough to prompt US military action, buy stocks in defense industries; we’re NEVER gonna get finished.

                1. I’m just saying that Russia is well into “In the wrong” territory, not that we should go to war. If I were Europe, though, I’d be looking right now for another oil provider and rearming.

                  1. Europe can’t rearm without going broke. They’ve been using the “Pax Americanus” to go full in on their welfare states; they don’t have anything left in their budgets to rearm with.

                    1. I don’t have a good response to this, as it’s largely true. Perhaps Germany should build a bigger army then.

                    2. You know who else thought Germany should build a bigger army?

                    3. Well, yes, they do have. . .history.

          2. Anything sacred about the borders established after the Mexican War?

        2. Ah, the Khrushchev Didn’t Really Mean It defense. Good one.

          1. As opposed to the Khrushchev Was An Awesome Dictator And We Should Never Question Any Of His Actions defense?

            Crimea is historically Russia. It is an accident that it was part of Ukraine in 1991, and those responsible for that accident would have undone it if they could. Yes, most borders are accidents. But 60 years is not 300, and a change of borders made from above within the same nation shouldn’t necessarily be considered sacrosanct under international law when the involved polities become two nations.

            1. What the fuck do I care about what happened decades ago? There’s significant evidence that a majority of the people living in the Crimean peninsula did not want to go under Russian rule. How can that not matter?

              Russia was an expansionistic empire under the tsars and under the Soviet Union. Screw them if they lost their little empire. And I say that as someone who thinks we should’ve worked much harder to befriend the Russians and do more trade with them.

            2. That’s a poor excuse for an invasion. Like it or not, post-Soviet Ukraine was an independent nation and so treated by the international law you seem versed in.

              So is it ok for Putin to invade Poland, which comprises parts once ruled by just about everyone else?

              1. No, it’s not okay for Putin to invade Poland.

                It wasn’t okay for Putin to invade Crimea. Crimea simply has a plausible backstory that allows everyone to save face and not start World War III over it.

                1. All invasions, including ours, have a backstory useful to those who don’t want to interfere with the invasion.

                2. Well, I’m not looking to excuse the Russians, but I also don’t want a war.

    2. This particular lion is toad because they fear icky war boner associations.

      1. I understand not wanting the U.S. to take any serious military action about Crimea being conquered, but that’s a different matter than whether it was. It was.

    3. +1.

    4. Well, if you consider Crimea part of Russia now (which it seems like is probably the case), then it sort of makes sense. Though at this early date, it would probably have been better to say “threatened to invade more parts of Ukraine”.

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