Russia-NATO: Russia recalled its chief military envoy to NATO. Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said, "The policy of artificially fanning tensions is not our choice. Nevertheless, we can see no way to continue our military cooperation with NATO as usual. We have decided to recall the Russian chief military envoy to NATO, Colonel General Valery Yevnevich, to Moscow for consultations."
Antonov said NATO's suspension of civilian and military cooperation with Russia "nullifies the results of joint work over the past several years."
Russia also wants NATO to explain its plans to reinforce its military presence in Eastern Europe. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, "We not only expect answers, but answers... based fully on respect for the rules we agreed on."
Comment: NATO has finally reacted to Russian activism in the language that the Russians understand: military action. Poland, the Baltics, Romania and the US have announced plans for exercises with Ukrainian forces. Poland announced it wants 10,000 more NATO armored soldiers stationed in Poland. NATO air forces have also reinforced the NATO air mission in Lithuania. The US has sent another surface combatant into the Black Sea.
Ukraine has sent a team of officers to participate in a NATO exercise in Bulgaria. The Ukrainian parliament unanimously approved two exercises with the US in Ukraine this summer.
Open source reporting indicates most of the exercises are meant mainly to signify NATO's commitment to the defense of its members and to warn Russia against annexing more of Ukraine. Virtual training using computers will be prominent in some of the exercises.
Poland is not likely to get the extra soldiers it seeks because most NATO countries intend to reduce defenses expenditures this year. A lot depends on Russian behavior, however.
Russia's reply to sanctions was to offer talks in Paris and to showcase a visit to Crimea by Prime Minister Medvedev. Its response to the suspension of NATO cooperation was to recall its chief military envoy.
Even mostly symbolic increases in NATO military activity are enough to remind Russia's leaders that Russia and Russian forces are not strong enough to risk revitalizing NATO's military power. NATO finally has gotten Moscow's attention.
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