Home News US bases in Europe raise alert level due to Russian threats

US bases in Europe raise alert level due to Russian threats

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U.S. defense officials raised the security alert level at European military bases over the weekend in response to vague threats from the Kremlin about Ukraine using long-range weapons on Russian territory, according to U.S. and Western officials.

Officials said no specific intelligence had been gathered about a possible Russian attack on U.S. bases. Any such attack by Russia, whether overt or covert, would significantly escalate its war in Ukraine.

Russia has been stepping up its sabotage campaign in Europe in hopes of stemming the flow of supplies to Ukraine. So far, U.S. bases have not been targeted, but U.S. officials said the heightened alert level would help ensure service members remain vigilant.

Throughout the war, American officials have maintained that President Vladimir V. Putin was reluctant to expand the conflict beyond Ukraine’s borders.

But the increased U.S. and European aid and the loosening of restrictions on the use of supplies have caused alarm in Moscow, according to U.S. officials. Recent Russian statements have made some U.S. and European officials wary.

Ukraine has been using long-range American missiles, called Anti-tank missiles The United States also said Ukraine could use the weapons to carry out cross-border attacks on Russian military targets.

The attack on Crimea prompted Russia to summon the U.S. ambassador, Lynne M. Tracy, to the Foreign Ministry. On June 24, a Kremlin spokesman said the United States “must face consequences” for its direct involvement in a war that has killed Russians.

The U.S. decision to provide Ukraine with long-range weapons and ease restrictions on their use follows Britain’s decision to provide Ukraine with Storm Shadow cruise missiles, which Kiev has used to strike military targets in Crimea.

Attacks using Western weapons, particularly in Crimea, have proven effective, disrupting the Russian Army’s logistical centers and further weakening Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

But the success of the attack prompted Moscow to look for ways to prevent further attacks.

In recent months, Russia Intensified series of sabotage attacks Across Europe, the operation, carried out by Russian military intelligence, has at times been clumsy, including a fire at an Ikea store. But NATO has repeatedly warned against such incidents, and Britain expelled a Russian defense attaché after a fire at a London warehouse.

Military bases that provide training, intelligence and other support to Ukraine might be logical follow-up targets, even if there is no specific intelligence indicating that Russia is considering such an attack.

Protecting military bases and the people who live and work on them falls under what the Pentagon generally calls force protection, which goes beyond simple measures like fencing or guarding base gates and includes a range of increasingly stringent security measures that can be implemented based on the specific threat level.

Most U.S. military installations around the world are in the second-lowest level, known as force protection condition “alpha,” which includes directing officials to test their communications equipment and increasing spot checks of vehicles and personnel entering bases.

The opposite is “delta,” when an attack is imminent or in progress. This level shuts down nonessential functions such as the base’s school, orders searches of all vehicles at the entrance, adds more guards, and severely restricts the movement of nearly everyone on base.

As of now, U.S. military bases in Europe are in “Charlie” status, the second-highest level and the highest level of readiness that can be reasonably maintained over the long term.

Over the weekend, Lt. Col. Daniel Day, a spokesman for U.S. European Command, said the military is asking personnel to “remain alert and vigilant at all times.”

European Command said in a statement Monday that officials would not describe the measures they were taking to protect operational security.

“Our heightened vigilance is not related to any single threat but rather is out of an abundance of caution as a variety of factors could impact the safety of U.S. soldiers in the European theater,” the command said in a statement.

Eric Schmidt Contributed reporting.

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