NATO shows Russia its military might in giant exercises

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US, German, Spanish and Polish troops of the NATO enhanced Forward Presence battle goups with their tanks get ready for the Iron Tomahawk exercise in Adazi, Latvia on October 23, 2018. (REUTERS/Ints Kalnins)
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Canadian soldiers of the NATO enhanced Forward Presence battle goup look on during the Iron Tomahawk exercise in Adazi, Latvia October 23, 2018. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins
Updated 25 October 2018
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NATO shows Russia its military might in giant exercises

  • Some 50,000 soldiers, 10,000 vehicles, 65 ships and 250 aircraft from 31 countries are taking part in Trident Juncture 18
  • While the “potential adversary” has not been officially identified, Russia is on everybody’s minds

OSLO: Norway hosts NATO’s biggest exercises since the end of the Cold War from Thursday, to remind Russia the Alliance stands united despite seeds of doubt planted by US President Donald Trump.
Some 50,000 soldiers, 10,000 vehicles, 65 ships and 250 aircraft from 31 countries are taking part in Trident Juncture 18, which is aimed at training the Atlantic Alliance to defend a member state after an aggression.
“In recent years, Europe’s security environment has significantly deteriorated,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, of Norway, said.
“Trident Juncture sends a clear message to our nations and to any potential adversary. NATO does not seek confrontation but we stand ready to defend all Allies against any threat,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

Russia on their minds
While the “potential adversary” has not been officially identified, Russia is on everybody’s minds.
The country, which shares a 198-kilometer (123-mile) border with Norway in the Far North, has repeatedly flaunted its military strength in recent years.
The Russian army has annexed Crimea, helped destabilize eastern Ukraine, beefed up its military capabilities in the Arctic, and conducted its biggest ever exercises in the Far East in September.
The Russian embassy in Oslo said it considered Trident Juncture an “anti-Russian” exercise.
“Such activity ... comes across as provocative, even if you try to justify it as being of a purely defensive nature,” it said.
For months, Moscow has been annoyed by the growing Western military presence in the region. The United States and Britain have been increasing their deployments in Norway to accustom their troops to cold weather combat.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, speaking in early October, condemned what she termed as NATO’s “sabre-rattling,” and vowed Moscow would take “retaliatory measures.”
“The main NATO countries are increasing their military presence in the region, near Russia’s borders,” she said.
“Such irresponsible actions are bound to lead to a destabilization of the political situation in the North, to heighten tensions,” she added.
Tensions already flared on Saturday after Trump announced he was abandoning a Cold War-era nuclear treaty, a move which Russia warned could cripple global security.
Accusing Russia of developing a new missile, the SSC-8, Trump threatened to increase the US nuclear weapons arsenal.

Biggest contingent from US
Despite concerns about Trump’s commitment to the Alliance — particularly regarding the “Article 5” mutual defense clause — the US military is contributing the biggest contingent to Trident Juncture, with more than 14,000 troops, including an aircraft carrier.
“We exercise in Norway but of course the lessons ... from Trident Juncture are also relevant for other countries,” Stoltenberg said.
On Tuesday, four US soldiers were lightly injured when trucks delivering material were involved in a pile-up.
In addition to NATO’s 29 member countries, Norway’s neighbors Sweden and Finland will join the exercises, which run through November 7.
Two Russian and two Belarus military observers have been invited to watch the maneuvers.
Stoltenberg said he hoped Russia would “avoid dangerous behavior.”


UK PM Theresa May to ask lawmakers to vote on a second Brexit referendum

Updated 44 min ago
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UK PM Theresa May to ask lawmakers to vote on a second Brexit referendum

  • May is offering concessions in what she says is a “last chance” to secure British departure
  • May said she was 'making a new offer to find common ground in Parliament'

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May said her government will include in her Withdrawal Agreement Bill a requirement for lawmakers to vote on whether to hold another Brexit referendum.

“I recognise the genuine and sincere strength of feeling across the House on this important issue,” May said. "The government will therefore include in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill at introduction a requirement to vote on whether to hold a second referendum."

“So to those MPs who want a second referendum to confirm the deal - you need a deal and therefore Withdrawal Agreement Bill to make it happen,” May said.

May is offering concessions in what she says is a “last chance” to secure an orderly British departure from the bloc.

The deal that she struck with the EU has been rejected by UK lawmakers three times already.

Since then, she has tried to secure backing from lawmakers with promises to maintain high standards on workers' rights and environmental protections — issues that are priorities for the left-of-center opposition Labour Party.

She also said UK lawmakers would get to decide how close a trade relationship to seek with the EU after Brexit, in a concession to Labour's demands for a customs union.

May said she was “making a new offer to find common ground in Parliament.”

“I have compromised. Now I ask you to compromise too,” she said.

May has said that after Parliament votes on the bill she will set out a timetable for her departure as Conservative leader and prime minister. Pro-Brexit Conservatives blame May for the country's political deadlock and want to replace her with a staunch Brexit supporter such as Boris Johnson, a former foreign secretary.

(With agencies)