The United States said Tuesday it has launched the biggest allied airborne drills in Europe since the Cold War ended, as fighting involving pro-Russian separatists escalated in eastern Ukraine.
Nearly 5,000 soldiers from 11 NATO allies are taking part in four weeks of “simultaneous multinational airborne operations” across Germany, Italy, Bulgaria and Romania that began in Saturday, the US Army said in a statement.
“Swift Response 15 is the largest Allied airborne training event on the continent since the end of the Cold War,” according to the statement from the US Army in Grafenwohr in southern Germany.
It is designed to help allied “high-readiness forces” act as one and “demonstrate the alliance’s capacity to rapidly deploy and operate in support of maintaining a strong and secure Europe,” it said.
The statement made no reference to the crisis in Ukraine where government troops have been fighting pro-Russian separatists since April last year, which has claimed the lives of nearly 7,000 people.