U.S. troops and NATO allies conducted separate military maneuvers in Poland and the Baltic Sea respectively Wednesday as part of the strongest Western response so far to Russia's threat against Ukraine.
Five NATO battleships took part in the Baltic maneuvers, a show of strength for eastern members of the alliance. The countries were once part of the communist Warsaw Pact, but joined NATO after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
"The deployment of Standing NATO Mine Counter-Measures Group One is one of those measures designed to assure our allies in the Baltic of NATO's resolve and solidarity and preparedness to meet any challenge," Lt. Commander David Benham, NATO's chief public affairs officer, explained.
***Will the military exercises be enough to check Russian President Vladimir Putin's ambitions? Dr. Paul Bonicelli, executive vice president of Regent University, addressed that question and more on CBN Newswatch, April 23.
Meanwhile, the first wave of 600 American troops - U.S. Army paratroopers - landed in Poland, welcomed by military music.
The paratroopers will take part in a month of military exercises. Meanwhile, other U.S. soldiers are headed for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
Earlier, Polish security services carried out their first exercise in decades: three days of maneuvers involving the police, armed forces, and firefighters.
Wednesday's military activity followed U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Ukraine.
"We have been clear that more provocative behavior by Russia will lead to more costs and greater isolation," Biden said at a news conference in Kiev Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials welcomed the military display in Eastern Europe.
"We hope that in the case of aggression, from the side of the Russian Federation, this assistance (from the West) will be bigger," First Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Yarema said. "At least we have received support from the United States that they will not leave us alone with this aggressor."
But the public saber-rattling hasn't convinced the pro-Russian militias in eastern Ukraine to give up their occupation of public buildings.
Tens of thousands of Russian troops remain poised on the Ukrainian border, believing that Ukraine's government will get only moral support -- not military aid - from NATO and the West.