Reporter’s Notebook: NATO goes back to the Cold War to fend off Russia

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The war between Russia and Ukraine rages on. 

A Russian military transport plane crashed in an area north of the border. Russia claimed Ukrainian missiles shot it down with 74 passengers on board, including 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war. No confirmation of that.

This comes as Russia continues to pound cities across Ukraine with ballistic, cruise and guided missiles, killing dozens, injuring more and destroying residential areas. 

Russian artillery pounds away along a 600-mile front line, firing up to 10 times as many shells as the Ukrainian military.

This threat from Moscow prompted NATO to stage its biggest military exercise in Europe since the Cold War, dubbed ‘Steadfast Defender 24.’ Starting this week, 90,000 troops, 1,100 tanks and other combat vehicles, 130 jets and ships will be in action.

The exercise aimed at getting U.S. forces to Europe. A U.S. Navy dock landing ship kicked off the drill with its departure from Norfolk, Virginia.   

Once all the forces and hardware are gathered in Europe, NATO will rehearse, at least, fending off Russia from targeting a member country.

Supreme Allied Commander General Christopher Cavoli called the war games ‘a clear demonstration of our unity, our strength, and our determination to protect each other.’

Strategic expert Fred Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute told Fox News that he was ‘glad to see NATO doing this exercise’, calling it ‘important for us to recognize the degree to which Russia threatens NATO.’

The Kremlin is defiant about NATO’s challenge. Spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, called the activity of NATO near its borders ‘provocative,’ declaring it ‘will not remain without an appropriate reaction from Moscow.’

As Russian sabre-rattling grows, Moscow officials have now rejected a Biden administration offer made last year to resume nuclear arms control talks as long as the U.S. supports Ukraine.

Embattled Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelenskyy, who has seen Russian aggression up close for nearly two years of full-fledged war, has emphasized the bigger stakes of this all. ‘If anyone thinks this is only about us, only about Ukraine,’ he said recently, ‘they are mistaken.’

The massive NATO exercise is happening as billions of dollars of U.S. military aid remains held up on Capitol Hill.

According to analyst Fred Kagan, all this is more ammunition for Russian President Vladimir Putin to strengthen his fight with the West.

‘It’s fueling Putin,’ he told us, ‘It’s encouraging him to think more broadly about the U.S. and our willingness to resist him at all.’

As NATO troops and armor get set to assemble across Europe, Military Committee Chairman Admiral Rob Bauer had an even more chilling assessment, saying the alliance is facing, ‘the most dangerous world in decades.’

The exercises are set to last until the end of May.

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