Military tensions between rival nations around the world have ratcheted up in recent weeks as Russia continues its saber rattling, Iran threatens Israel with invasion, and North Korea fires missiles toward Japan.
Meanwhile, China has refused to back down in a confrontation with the Philippines over its man-made islands, and the U.S. has responded by deploying Navy ships to the area.
Russia and NATO troops continue to eye each other over the Ukrainian border, and this week, Putin ordered armored tanks to the border while a convoy of troop transports and heavy weapons have been spotted in occupied Crimea.
They sit opposite four NATO battalions totaling some 4,000 troops assigned to protect Europe from Russian aggression deployed after Putin seized the Ukrainian’s Crimea peninsula in 2014.
President Barack Obama ordered 1,000 U.S. troops to the Baltic as part of the NATO force even though Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied Russia had any aggressive intentions, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“It is absurd to talk about any threat coming from Russia at a time when dozens of people are dying in the center of Europe and when hundreds of people are dying in the Middle East daily. We aren’t the ones getting closer to NATO’s borders.”
Russia’s deployment of armed troops into occupied Crimea this week, however, threw Moscow’s commitment to peace into doubt.
Mejlis Dzhelalov, the deputy chairman of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, the ethnic group opposed to Russian rule in Crimea, reported Russia had closed border crossings and set up armed checkpoints, according to UNIAN.
“Large groups of Russian military hardware have been massed near Armyansk and Dzhankoy. Dzhankoy has been cordoned off by troops with tanks and other equipment.”
Witnesses videotaped the Russian military equipment arriving at the towns of Armyansk and Dzhankoy, 25 miles from the Ukrainian border, while a local journalist reported a deadly shooting near the border, according to the Express.
“The Russian occupying authorities suspended, for unknown reasons, the handling of citizens and vehicles crossing the administrative border with Crimea.”
Meanwhile, the tensions between Israel and Iran have reached an all-time high, with Hossein Salami, the deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guard, vowing to crush the Zionist regime if his country is provoked, reports the Huffington Post.
“Hezbollah has 100,000 missiles that are ready to hit Israel to liberate the occupied Palestinian territories if the Zionist regime repeats its past mistakes.
“Today, the grounds for the annihilation and collapse of the Zionist regime are [present] more than ever.”
Iran is unlikely to attack Israel directly because its military lacks the capacity to overcome the nuclear-armed country, but they’re fully capable of using their Lebanese Shiite proxy Hezbollah.
While the world was preoccupied with Russia’s saber rattling and rising tensions in the Middle East, North Korea fired a missile 600 miles into Japanese waters in violation of a UN resolution.
Japan responded by ordering its military to remain on high alert and be prepared to shoot down incoming North Korean missiles at any time. Its forces will remain on high alert for the next three months.
Previously, Japan placed its military on high alert only when it detected indications of an imminent North Korean missile launch.
Meanwhile, the United States sent a guided missile destroyer, the USS Benfold, to the South China Sea. Meanwhile, China flew bombers, fighter jets, and other military aircraft over the contested area as a show of force, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“[The Chinese patrols were designed] to enhance combat capabilities to deal with various security threats.”
The move comes after an international court sided with the Philippines against China in the dispute over the South China Sea; the tribunal found Beijing’s claim to the contested area had no legal basis.
China rejected the court’s decision and continues to maintain a military presence on the man-made islands in the area but said it welcomes a peaceful dialogue with the Philippines.
[Photo by Andrew Lubimov/File/AP Images]