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Pentagon Sends Fighter Jets to Increase NATO Presence as Ukraine Crisis Continues to Unfold

Airman 1st Class Joshua Kleinholz

Alberto González - published on 03/06/14

The 28-nation military defense alliance moves in response to Russian military in Ukraine.

As Russian forces continue to exercise control over Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, the Pentagon has confirmed the envoy of additional fighter jets to the Baltic nations in order to boost NATO presence in the region.

A Defense Department official confirmed on Wednesday that the Pentagon will send six F-15s and one KC-135 to the Siauliai Air Base in Lithuania. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had alluded to the effort earlier in the day during testimony on Capitol Hill. The envoy more than doubles the US’s air fleet in the area, which currently consists of four F-15s.

“This action comes at the request of our Baltic Allies and further demonstrates our commitment to NATO security,” the official said. 

Secretary of State John Kerry, while speaking at a press conference in Paris, described these moves as “concrete steps to reassure our NATO allies.” The Obama administration is continuing to pursue diplomatic options with Russian President Vladimir Putin, though no confirmation has yet been given concerning the possibility of military options.

Hagel and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey both participated in talks with Ukrainian and Russian defense officials on Wednesday, as well.

“I urge continued restraint to reserve room for a diplomatic solution," Dempsey stated before a Senate panel, which had been convened for the purpose of discussing the 2015 defense budget.

The U.S. is currently in control of a four-month rotational duty over NATO’s aerial police forces in the Baltic countries. According to a NATO statement, the mission “not only protects the integrity of NATO airspace, [but also] illustrates the alliance’s core function of collective defense.”

Alberto González is the Associate Editor of Aleteia’s English edition. His prior endeavors have included working in political campaigns and in the United States Senate. He also maintains an active schedule as a liturgical vocalist and organist.

A native of California, Alberto graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2010 with a B.A. in Music and Political Science. He currently lives in the greater Washington, D.C. area.

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