U.S., NATO to stage drills in West Ukraine

3 September 2014 11:55
(QHA) -

United States, NATO to launch joint military exercise near Ukraine’s western border this month with more than 1,000 troops from the United States and its allies.

The decision to go ahead with the Rapid Trident exercise Sept. 16-26 is seen as a sign of the commitment of NATO states to support non-NATO member Ukraine while stopping well short of military intervention in the conflict.

The annual exercise, to take place in the Yavoriv training center near Ukraine's border with Poland, was initially scheduled for July, but was put back because early planning was disrupted by the crisis in the eastern part of the country.

"At the moment, we are still planning for (the exercise) to go ahead," U.S. Navy Captain Gregory Hicks, spokesman for the U.S. Army's European Command said on Tuesday.

NATO stepped up military activity in its eastern member states after Russia's annexation of Crimea in March, and is expected to agree at a summit in Wales this week to create a new rapid reaction force of several thousand troops.

In addition to staging air force exercises, the United States is moving tanks and 600 troops to Poland and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania for joint maneuvers in October, replacing a more lightly armed force of paratroopers.