US paratroopers land in Lithuania amid Ukraine crisis

US paratroopers land in Lithuania amid Ukraine crisis
Sat Apr 26, 2014 18:01:09

Nearly 150 US paratroopers have landed in Lithuania as part of a contingent deployed to the region as the tensions run high in Ukraine.

The troops from the 173rd Airborne Brigade landed at the Siauliai air base on Saturday. A total of 600 US troops are to be deployed to Poland and the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania for a series of military drills throughout the year.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite described the move as a "deterrence measure" in the region.

"We know in this situation who our real friends are coming to help," she told reporters.

"If any of our guests are injured, it would mean an open confrontation not with Lithuania but with the United States," she added.

Another company of soldiers landed in Poland on Wednesday, some 150 troops arrived in Latvia on Friday and a further 150 are due in Estonia on Monday.

The Pentagon said Tuesday that 600 soldiers would be sent to four countries in eastern Europe for military drills that will commence in Poland and later move to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

The US has called for more exercises in the Baltic countries, but did not say it had any plan to deploy a permanent contingent to the region.

Meanwhile, Russia has begun extensive military drills near its border with Ukraine, saying the escalation of violence in eastern Ukraine and the militarization of the region by the US and its allies have forced it to react.

A military operation has been launched against anti-Kiev protesters in eastern Ukraine, which includes 11,000 Ukrainian soldiers, 160 tanks, 230 armored carriers, and at least 150 artillery pieces.

“The order to use force against civilians has already been given, and if this military machine is not stopped, the amount of casualties will only grow,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said.


string(731) "[{"id":"1587726","sort":"3196606","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2014/04/23/alalam_635338466787571540_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"US threatens Russia with further sanctions over Ukraine"} ,{"id":"1588106","sort":"3196607","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2014/04/24/alalam_635339436496858575_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"US, allies try to stage revolution in Ukraine: Lavrov"} ,{"id":"1588393","sort":"3196608","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2014/04/25/alalam_635340290184284777_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"Russia: Kiev will face justice for 'bloody crime' in eastern Ukraine"} ,{"id":"1588500","sort":"3196609","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2014/04/25/alalam_635340544544230957_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"US warship leaves Black Sea as Ukraine crisis heats up"} ]"