The US Pentagon has deployed the elite 101st Airborne Division to Europe for the first time since World War II as part of military readiness drills with NATO allies amid the worsening tensions with Russia over Ukraine. The “nuclear training drills” in Romania come as the Kremlin and Kyiv blamed swap accusations over the deployment of banned nuclear and biological weapons, with Russia even claiming that Ukraine plans to detonate a “dirty bomb.”
NATO has released footage of American F22 fighter jets in formation with Italian Euro fighters, and Polish F16, and MIG 29 over the skies of Poland.
The show of forces comes amid two weeks of NATO nuclear training drills involving the US’s most forward troops near the Ukrainian border, the 101st Airborne division.
The Division, from the US state of Kentucky, is now headquartered in Europe for the first time since World War Two.
Colonel Edwin Thetis told CBS Evening News: ” We bring a unique capability from our air assault capabilities. It’s also incredibly meaningful to us to return to Europe after eight years away.”
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The military training exercise takes place less than five miles from the Ukrainian border.
Soldiers of the 101st have joined Romanian troops for massive live-fire drills in training designed to simulate a full-scale battle.
One 101st soldier told CBS: “Every shot has to count every training event has to be the best we could do as something that our allies want to emulate.
“And then, of course, our adversaries are watching a show of force for America’s allies and adversaries alike.”
The 101st specialises in air assault operations and played a pivotal role in the D-Day landings, the liberation of The Netherlands and in the Battle of the Bulge in 1944.
Shoigu’s ministry said he had told his French, Turkish and British counterparts of Moscow’s concern that Ukraine could detonate a “dirty bomb” – a device laced with radioactive material. Russia has provided no evidence to substantiate such a claim.
Previous Russian assertions that Ukraine might resort to using banned weapons such as biological arms have stirred concerns in the West that Moscow might be preparing to stage “false flag” attacks and blame them on Kyiv.
The Pentagon’s readout of the call said Austin told Shoigu he “rejected any pretext for Russian escalation.” Austin also “reaffirmed the value of continued communication.”
The White House National Security Council in a statement said it rejected Shoigu’s false allegations that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory.