US Sending Paratroopers to Baltics As Ukraine Boils

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Common Dreams

US Sending Paratroopers to Baltics As Ukraine Boils

Russia also announces new military exercises on Wednesday as diplomacy frays under tug of violence

Joe Biden (left) and the Ukrainian interim prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, at a joint news conference in Kiev. (Photograph: UPI /Landov/Barcroft Media)

As the Obama administration publicly warned Russia against further provocative acts relating to the ongoing tensions in Ukraine on Tuesday, it also announced that U.S. paratroopers from the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) based in Italy are heading to Poland and the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia this week to bolster NATO forces.

Pentagon spokesperson Rear Adm. John Kirby made the announcement Tuesday, characterizing the deployment of approximately 600 troops as "exercises" that would last about a month.

The soldiers, said Kirby, should be seen as "a very tangible representation of our commitment to our security obligations in Europe" against what he described as "Russian aggression."

Regarding the upcoming rotation of U.S. troops, he added, "We encourage our NATO partners to likewise look for opportunities of their own to do this same kind of thing for one another."

On Wednesday morning, Russia announced "snap" naval exercises for members of its fleet in the Caspian Sea.

With U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in Ukraine on Tuesday, high-level promises of new aid from the U.S. government were promised to the interim government in Kiev as new violence in the eastern regions of the country called into question the ability of a fragile truce to maintain itself.

According to agency reporting and the Guardian:

The [Russian naval drills] will last seven days and involve around 10 naval vessels and 400 sailors. The Caspian Sea is bordered by Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan – a region that is crisscrossed by oil and natural gas pipelines.

Ukraine relaunched military operations against pro-Kremlin separatists late on Tuesday, hours after Biden ended his visit to Kiev in which he warned Russia over its actions in the former Soviet republic.

Ukraine's acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, said he was ordering the military to restart operations against the rebels after the discovery of two "brutally tortured" bodies in Slavyansk.

One of them, he said, was that of a recently kidnapped local councilor from a nearby town who belonged to his party.

Speaking with radio host John Batchelor, Stephen F. Cohen, professor of history at New York University and Princeton, says the most recent events have more or less proven that a new 'Cold War' is now underway with the Obama administration executing what appears to be a policy of "containment" against the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Meanwhile, independent journalist and editor of Consortium News Robert Parry is warning that the continued propaganda emanating from Washington over the conflict is designed to prepare the American people "to accept and perhaps even cheer a massacre of eastern Ukrainians who have risen up against the coup regime in Kiev."

In "Official Washington," Parry argues:

the stage is now set for what could be a massacre of Ukrainian civilians who have risen up against the putschists who seized control of Kiev in a Feb. 22 coup that overthrew elected President Viktor Yanukovych. The violent putsch was spearheaded by neo-Nazi militias, some of which have now been incorporated into Ukraine’s National Guard and dispatched to the front lines in eastern Ukraine.

If the slaughter of the eastern Ukrainian protesters does come, you can expect Official Washington to be supportive. Whereas the Kiev protesters who seized government buildings in February were deemed “pro-democracy” activists even as they overthrew a democratically elected leader, the eastern Ukrainian protesters, who still consider Yanukovych their legitimate president, are dismissed as “terrorists.” And, we all know what happens to “terrorists.”

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