NATO troops in massive airborne exercise in Poland

NATO troops in massive airborne exercise in Poland
# 07 June 2016 18:09 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. About 2,000 NATO troops from the U.S., Britain and Poland conducted an airborne training operation on Tuesday as part of the biggest exercise performed in Poland since the 1989 end of communism and amid concerns over Russia, APA reports quoting Reuters.

Scores of U.S. troops and then military vehicles parachuted into a training area on the outskirts of the central city of Torun. The force's mission in Torun was to secure a bridge on the Vistula River, as part of the Polish-led Anakonda-16 exercise that involves about 31,000 troops and runs through mid-June.

Nineteen NATO member nations and five partner nations are contributing troops to the exercise that will train and test their swift joint reaction to threats on land, sea and in the air.

Troops of the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division flew directly from their U.S. base in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Their Boeing C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft were refueled on the route in midair. The British troops flew from a NATO base in Ramstein, Germany, while the Poles arrived from their base in Krakow, in southern Poland.

Russia considers NATO troops' presence close to its border as a security threat. President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Tuesday in Moscow that the military exercise in Poland "does not contribute to the atmosphere of trust and security on the continent."

The Polish command of the exercise said on its website that the operation is transparent, and international observers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, as well as Russian observers, have been invited.

Poland and other nations in the region, as well as NATO leaders, are saying that any military presence or exercises are purely defensive and deterrent measures.

The drill is part of NATO's exercise program. It is being held just weeks before NATO holds a crucial summit in Warsaw expected to decide that significant numbers of NATO troops and equipment will be based in Poland and in the Baltic states. Those NATO nations are particularity worried about Russia's annexation of the Crimea Peninsula in 2014 and support for separatists in the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine.