U.S. Troops Land in the Baltics, Russian Military Surges on Ukrainian Border, War Appears Imminent

Between April 22-24, 2014, AlertsUSA issued the following
related flash messages to subscriber mobile devices:

4/24 SecState Kerry threatens Russia, saying cont efforts to destabilize Ukraine will be grave mistake, window to change course is closing, “We are ready to act.”

4/24 Russia announces start of “defense drills” incl use of mil aircraft, “forced” to react to NATO build up and situation in Ukraine. NATO forces now on high alert.

4/22 Pentagon announces deployment of U.S. airborne forces to Poland, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania in direct response to Ukraine crisis.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

On multiple occasions this week AlertsUSA subscribers were notified via text messages to their mobile devices regarding the continued buildup of Russian and NATO military forces across eastern Europe, along with threats, counter threats and the highly provocative military exercises on both sides of the line.

An initial group of 600 U.S. Army paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team began arriving this week in Poland, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania in what the Pentagon refers to as a “tangible expression” of the U.S. commitment to Europe and a way to assure U.S. allies and partners in the face of growing Russian aggression.

Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said the troop deployments will be part of a rotational U.S. military presence in E. Europe and this presence could last a year or more. Kerby also indicated that the force could be expanded in size and scope of countries involved. He also stressed that the deployments and exercises were bilateral, meaning set up between the participating countries, and were separate from other NATO deployments.

The Latvian government called the deployments “a fast and practical response.” Lithuania’s president said the deployments will “strengthen our readiness for collective defense and add to ensuring the safety of our people.” Estonia’s defense minister said it will “significantly” increase his country’s security.

Readers are reminded that for more than 6 weeks (see this, this, this, this, this and this) AlertsUSA and Threat Journal have provided significant detail on the buildup of US and NATO forces in the region, including dozens of fighter jets, bombers and other military aircraft, more than two dozen warships spread between the Mediterranean, Black and Baltic Seas, U.S. Marines deploying to Romania and the early April request by Poland for NATO to permanently station 10,000 troops on it’s territory .

In a development right out of the Syria playbook, a growing chorus of US Senators this week are calling for the Obama Administration to begin providing Ukraine with lethal military aid, including arms, ammunition, antitank weapons and more.

On Thursday of this week, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel stated that these measures are not meant to provoke or threaten Russia. “De-escalation has been our focus, and Russia must take steps to make that happen.”

Apparently Russia does not have the same read on the matter. On Thursday of this week Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced the start of extensive military exercises near the Ukrainian border following the escalation of violence in the country, as well as the buildup of US and NATO forces in Poland and the Baltic states. According to Shoigu, “We are forced to react to the situation.”

Late Thursday, a clearly agitated Secretary of State John Kerry held a press conference during which he publicly threatened Russia, saying that continued efforts to destabilize Ukraine would be a grave mistake and that the window to change course is closing. “We are ready to act.

On Friday morning, the U.S. fired a shot by having the ratings agency Standard & Poors downgrade Russian bonds from BBB to BBB-, one step away from junk status. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew also chimed in with threats, telling Russia to “take a step back… or pay the price

The Russian government does not seem too concerned and as Bloomberg reports, anticipated this move. It turns out that major Russian companies are flush with nearly $100 billion in cash and, along with committed credit lines from banks and the operating cash flows, they are “well placed” to withstand a closed refinancing market for the rest of 2014.

Further, Russia is considering selling the sovereign bonds of all NATO member States and moving assets and accounts in dollars and euros to neutral countries. Further, as previously reported by AlertsUSA Threat Journal, as Russia provides approximately one third of Western Europe’s natural gas, they could simply demand payment in currencies other than the U.S. dollar, or even payment in gold.

IN LATE BREAKING DEVELOPMENTS:

As a final note on this week’s update, we think it is important to remind readers of why we are where we are. This past December, Asst. Secretary of State for Europe, Victoria Nuland, delivered a presentation in front of National Press Club during which she revealed that the U.S. government has invested more than 5 BILLION dollars over the past few years in helping destabilize the pro-Russian Ukrainian government and to develop “democratic institutions and a good form of government,” all in an effort to bring about Ukraine’s entry into the EU, and ultimately, NATO. Prior to these actions, Ukraine’s relationship with Russia, while complex, was stable.

AlertsUSA continues to closely monitor the growing tensions in the region and will immediately notify service subscribers of changes in the overall threat environment, major escalations or the outbreak of hostilities, as events warrant.