In the region are concerned about the upcoming large-scale maneuvers of the Russian and Belarusian troops
The US sent advanced combat aircraft patrolling the airspace of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia during a major Russian military exercises in the Baltic region. Exercises “West”, which will be held from 14 to 20 September in Belarus, West Russia and in Kaliningrad, has caused concern in the region, although Russia claims that practiced is only a defense scenario, and not preparing for the invasion of other countries.
Seven us fighters F-15C this week, landed on the airport of šiauliai, in preparation for air policing over the Baltic States. This is three more aircraft than is typically used since the extension of the patrol of the NATO mission after the Crimean crisis of 2014.
The Baltic States do not use their own fighters and rely on patrols of the allies.
“We will intensify patrol mission during the exercise. And we are glad that we have here and the additional ground forces,” – said Deputy Minister of defense of Lithuania Vytautas Umbrasas, speaking to reporters at the airport to Siauliai. During the exercise “West” in the Baltic States in addition to the main contingent landed 600 soldiers.
“In such a situation it is very useful,” he added.
Commander of US air forces in Europe TOD Walters, speaking at a press conference at the airport in Siauliai, said the number of fighters was increased in connection with the “opportunities for training” in Lithuania, and did not mention Russia.
“Air patrol mission will remain the same as it was. The purpose of the mission – protection of the sovereign airspace of the three Baltic States,” added Walters.
According to Russian authorities, in the exercise “the West” will take part at 13,000 Russian and Belarusian troops and nearly 70 aircraft and helicopters, and 700 pieces of heavy military equipment, including tanks, artillery and missile systems.
The commander of U.S. forces in Europe Lieutenant General Ben Hodges last month said that U.S. allies in Eastern Europe and Ukraine worried that the upcoming exercises can be a “Trojan horse” – a pretext to leave military equipment in Belarus.