Tensions between the two dominate powers in Eastern Europe, the United States and Russia, haven’t been this high since the early 90s.
Under the leadership of President Barack Obama, the U.S. military has announced they’re sending thousands of airborne soldiers to coordinate in a massive war game in Poland with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies — the largest such war game since the Cold War.
And critics are vocal — if this is a NATO exercise, where are the rest of the NATO alliance troops?
Sitting at home again, it seems.
NATO troops from just three countries — the U.S., Britain and Poland — are conducting an airborne operation as part of the biggest exercise performed in Poland since the 1989 end of communism and amid concerns over Russia.
“Managed by Poland’s Lt. Gen. Marek Tomaszycki, the exercise includes 14,000 U.S. troops, 12,000 Polish troops, 800 from Britain and others from non-NATO countries,” The Guardian reports. “Multinational operations publicised so far include an airdrop involving 1,130 parachutists over the northern Polish city of Toruń on Tuesday – including 500 US troops and 230 British ones – engineers building a bridge to carry 300 vehicles over the Vistula river and a night-time ‘assault’ involving 35 helicopters.”
Notably missing from the exercise — all 25 other NATO military’s, whose absence reinforces criticisms of Obama’s foreign policy and the lack of respect given to America as a world leader.
On the campaign trail, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the value of the military alliance, questioning a structure that sees the U.S. pay for most of its costs. Trump claims other nations “are not paying their fair share” and has called the 28-nation alliance “obsolete.”
“Either they pay up, including for past deficiencies, or they have to get out. And if it breaks up NATO, it breaks up NATO,” Trump said in April.
Russia considers NATO troops’ presence close to its border as a security threat. President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday in Moscow that the military exercise in Poland “does not contribute to the atmosphere of trust and security on the continent.”
The Polish command of the exercise says the operation is transparent and international observers have been invited.
The Associated Press contributed to this article