US Gen. warns Russia's Putin will attack if NATO not united
Fri May 8, 2015 1:19PM
“So far, we’re sticking together. And as long as we do and as long as we show that we are capable, then there isn’t going to be a Russian attack,” Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges said during a conference of alliance land commanders in Germany, according to Stars and Stripes.
The surest way to prevent an attack, Hodges said, was for the United States and its allies to showcase their might and resolve through a strong military “exercise program.”
“But I am sure, that if he (Putin) senses that the United States won’t respond to support Poland, or that the UK will not support Latvia, or that Portugal will not support Estonia, then I think the possibility for a pre-emptive attack of some sort, I think it’s very possible,” Hodges said.
Military leaders and other representatives from NATO and several non-NATO member states took part in the three-day planning conference at the NATO School Oberammergau in southern Germany, which aims to help set the stage for future large-scale training operations around eastern Europe.
Anakonda 16, a major military exercise held every two years, was a major focus at the conference.
Troops from several NATO countries —including around 20,000 US soldiers — will converge on a training ground in Poland for the exercise, which serves as a counterweight to recent Russian war games.
“Anakonda is about a strategic message to our allies, that we are here and we will reinforce them, but also to Russia that we’re prepared to do whatever it takes to deter aggression,” Gen. Hodges said.
NATO commanders also discussed the need to increase military assistance to Ukraine, where pro-Russian fighters have been battling government forces in the east.
About 300 US troops from the US 173rd Airborne Brigade arrived in Yavoriv, western Ukraine, last month to train the newly-formed Ukrainian National Guard. The troops will spend six months for the mission.
Russia has warned that the US involvement could further "destabilize" Ukraine. The conflict has killed more than 7,000 civilians and around 1,600 soldiers.
Ties between Washington and Moscow have reached an all-time low over the crisis in Ukraine, which began after pro-Western forces ousted the country’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, in February 2014.
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