WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A NATO-led training mission in Afghanistan next year is likely to total about 12,000 soldiers, including about 8,000 Americans, while some 1,800 Americans will conduct counter-terrorism missions, a senior U.S. military official said on Wednesday.
The United States would also be keen to see participation in the counter-terrorism effort by nations with well-trained special forces, such as Britain or Australia, the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – NATO’s top military commander accused Russia on Wednesday of destabilizing eastern Ukraine through the use of Russian-backed forces and demanded that it stop interfering.
While a majority of the troops Russia had close to the Ukrainian border – previously estimated by NATO at 40,000 – had withdrawn or were in the process of withdrawing, some appeared intent on staying, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s supreme allied commander Europe, said.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel urged NATO allies on Tuesday to raise their defense budgets in response to the Ukraine crisis, saying a slide in military spending could pose as much of a threat to the future of the alliance as any enemy.
He also called on allies to look at how their militaries were trained, equipped and structured to meet new security challenges, saying NATO should expect Russia to continue to test its resolve, even though it was withdrawing its troops from the Ukraine border.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – NATO defense ministers will consider on Tuesday what longer term steps the alliance needs to take to bolster its eastern defenses and improve its ability to respond to the unorthodox tactics used by Russia in Ukraine.
In the three months since the Ukraine crisis erupted, the U.S.-dominated alliance has sent fighter planes and ships and stepped up military exercises to reassure eastern European allies alarmed by Russia’s actions, while making clear it has no intention of intervening militarily in Ukraine.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s decision to reduce U.S. troop numbers in Afghanistan means a NATO plan to train Afghan security forces throughout the country is guaranteed to last only until the end of next year, the U.S. ambassador to NATO said on Monday.
Obama last week outlined a plan to withdraw all but 9,800 American troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year and to pull out the rest by the end of 2016, ending a more than decade-old combat role triggered by the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.
BRUSSELS/MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s envoy to NATO on Monday accused the Western alliance of encouraging the use of force by the Ukrainian government in eastern Ukraine and of hampering efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis, Russian news agency RIA reported.
RIA quoted Alexander Grushko, who met ambassadors of NATO member states in Brussels, as saying “unprecedented” activity by the alliance near Russia’s borders was adding to tension and could undermine existing security arrangements.
PARIS/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A 29-year-old Frenchman believed to have returned recently from fighting with Islamist militant rebels in Syria has been arrested for the killing of three people at Brussels’ Jewish Museum last month, prosecutors said on Sunday.
Mehdi Nemmouche was detained on Friday after a random check at a bus terminal in the French city of Marseille showed he was carrying a Kalashnikov rifle, another gun and ammunition similar to those used in the shooting last weekend, French and Belgian prosecutors said.
MOSCOW/BRUSSELS, May 22 (Reuters) – Russia said on Thursday
it was moving troops and military equipment from border regions
near Ukraine, but NATO said a large “coercive force” remained in
Russia has previously failed to keep promises to move troops
back from the frontier with eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian
separatists have declared independence.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Ukraine’s ambassador to the European Union said on Wednesday that Russia should face EU financial sanctions and lose the right to host the 2018 soccer World Cup because of its annexation of the Crimea region.
Asset freezes and visa bans adopted by the EU so far in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine did not go far enough, Kostiantyn Yelisieiev told Reuters in an interview.
GAIZIUNAI Lithuania/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Artillery and tank fire reverberate around a Baltic airstrip where U.S. paratroopers are fighting alongside Lithuanian soldiers. The battle is just an exercise and it only involves 150 U.S. soldiers – but the symbolism is clear.
With eastern European states nervous about Russia after it annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region and massed 40,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders, the United States and NATO allies want to show Moscow that former Soviet republics on the Baltic are under the alliance’s security umbrella.