Russia appears to be readying itself for a very serious confrontation with NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), a confrontation that, if it should come to pass, many believe will be the opening stage of World War 3. And that confrontation just might occur in the Crimea, so Russia has not only increased its troop strength in the area, but it also created a new military task force just to go head-to-head with NATO forces.
Daily Star reported over the weekend that Russia’s defense minister, Sergey Shoigu, had informed the Defense Ministry in Moscow that a military task force comprised of four divisions, nine brigades, and 22 regiments had been formed in order to match the massing of alliance forces along the borders of the disputed region. Describing the task force as “self-sufficient,” Shoigu also told the Ministry that, due to the more than 200 military exercises conducted in the area since 2013, the new Russian task force would be able to match NATO blow for blow should hostilities begin.
The announcement of the new military task force came just days after the unsettling Atlantic Group report that warned, because of the heightened number of military drills conducted by Russia, President Vladimir Putin could order an attack “overnight” using the exercises as a cover, attacking without warning. As Inquisitr reported, the report went on to warn that NATO should not underestimate Russia’s willingness to take advantage of the West’s unwillingness to engage in battle, thereby testing also the mutual defense pact of the treaty. The Baltic States were of particular concern for potential invasion, and it was suggested that NATO counter Russia’s increased troop maneuverings with the bolstering of defenses, especially in Poland, a nation that would be increasingly vulnerable if Russia were to invade the Estonia, Latvia, and/or Lithuania.
But even as worries of a Russian invasion mount in the northern part of the continent, tensions have risen in the south as well. To add to those tensions, it is known that two of the divisions in the newly created task force were equipped with Iskander ballistic missile launchers, weapons capable of launching nuclear missiles.
In addition to the ground forces committed to Crimea, Shoigu said that air defenses in Russia’s southwest had been increased by 50 percent. He added that Russia’s troop strength had been doubled.
The show of force, Shoigu insisted, would help to stabilize an unsteady Ukraine. It would also aid in facing “growing terrorist activity.”
That “terrorist activity” undoubtedly refers to the ongoing and growing threat of the Islamic State (ISIS) and its call for its sympathizers to wage war in their home nations. Shoigu may also have been responding to ISIS’ latest threat, where the extremists issued a propaganda video in which they threatened, according to Newsweek, “listen Putin, we will come to Russia and will kill you at your homes.”
ISIS aside, the United States and NATO do not seem to be shaken by Russia’s posturing. Responding to Sergey Shoigu’s announcement, U.S. State department spokesman John Kirby said, according to Daily Star, “If true, we believe that this would appear to run counter to ongoing efforts to stop violence and de-escalate the tensions in eastern Ukraine. Crimea is and always will remain part of Ukraine. We’re not going to allow the borders of Europe to be redrawn at the barrel of a gun.”
For all intents and purposes, Kirby’s words ring hollow considering that Russia annexed Crimea in February 2014. And they did it by moving troops into the area, effectively “redrawing” the borders of Europe “at the barrel of a gun,” claiming that Russians in the region were being unfairly treated and poorly represented by Ukraine’s government.
Ukraine, not to mention a number of nations around the world, has decried the military takeover as an illegal act against a sovereign nation and does not recognize Russia’s authority over Crimea. Regardless, Russia announced the full integration of Crimea into the Russian Federation in July 2015, according to International Business Times.
Rumors of an imminent World War 3 have become quite commonplace in the past few years, given the increased re-militarization of Russia, the country’s annexation of Crimea, and the saber-rattling going on along the Ukraine/Russia border. And all of it within a relatively short distance from Russia’s western borders with several NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) nations, where new missile deployments and military exercises have kept all of eastern Europe tense. But often rumors of war are generated by the very real threat of war, or at least the perception that the threat of war is real. And when that perception is reinforced by hardline rhetoric from military officials, the fears of a coming conflict, perhaps the ignition point of World War 3, seem even closer to becoming actualized.
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