(Constanta) From the Baltic to the Black Sea, US Chief of Staff General Mark Milley has worked in recent days to reassure countries in the former Soviet bloc that feel threatened by Russia after his invasion of Ukraine.
The United States has strengthened its military posture in Eastern Europe to “prevent further aggression by the Russians and avoid a war between great powers”, General Milley said Monday near Constanta, in the south of the country. Romania.
“Between the start of World War I in 1914 and the end of World War II in 1945, 150 million people were massacred,” he reminded a group of American soldiers deployed to Romania’s Mihail Air Base. Kogalniceanu. “We never want to see that again.”
“What you are doing is really important: assure Romania and the other allies that we are there. The United States is here,” he continued.
Coming directly from the United States or redeployed from Italy or Germany, nearly 15,000 additional American soldiers have been sent in recent weeks along a 1,200 km arc in countries neighboring Ukraine and of Belarus, which facilitates the Russian invasion, to dissuade Moscow from advancing further.
The United States usually has some 67,000 soldiers permanently stationed in Europe, supplemented by units sent on rotations of several months. These rotations were extended, units based in Western Europe were sent east, reinforcements were dispatched from the United States, and the US Army now has some 100,000 men in Europe.
Among them, 2,500 are now positioned in the three Baltic States (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia), 10,000 in Poland, 2,400 in Romania, 1,500 in Slovakia, 350 in Bulgaria and 200 in Hungary.
During a five-day tour, General Milley visited five of these countries – the three Baltic States, Poland and Romania – where he met the highest military officials to reassure, but also to assess their needs.
Afghanistan in common
In Latvia, one of the three Baltic states that seceded from the Soviet Union in 1991 and have since joined NATO, Defense Minister Artus Pabriks has asked him for more military assistance and above all, a permanent military presence.
“It doesn’t have to be a big number, but it would be a signal,” he told reporters accompanying the US chief of staff on his tour.
Everywhere, America’s top brass visited troops and reminded them of their mission: to show that the United States is ready to defend every inch of territory from NATO allies.
As the allies did in 2001, when NATO joined the United States in the war in Afghanistan, in response to the September 11 attacks carried out by Al-Qaeda then under the protection of the Taliban.
It is moreover this common military experience that reappears in the face of the Russian threat, because many of the military leaders of the countries on NATO’s eastern flank took part in the war in Afghanistan alongside American forces.
The fraternity born of common fighting is not limited to the military hierarchy: American Sergeant Major Robert Pickett thus told journalists on Monday how, seriously wounded in 2006 in Kandahar, he was saved by Romanian Sergeant Major Florea Sas and received the first aid from a Romanian medical team.
The two men were surprised to meet again last week, thanks to this new mobilization of NATO countries.
“What is clear to me is NATO’s unity and determination in the face of an unprecedented threat and the most serious territorial dispute on the European continent since 1945,” General Milley told AFP. AFP at the end of his tour.