A NATO military exercise called Brave Warrior will take place in Hungary at the end of September, with some of the necessary equipment travelling there via Slovak territory. “We’re aware of the Alliance’s exercise in Hungary," the Defence Ministry said when asked about the matter.
The US Embassy has confirmed the plans, too. According to unofficial information, dozens of Stryker type armoured combat vehicles will roll through Slovakia. “Such a movement of military equipment will highlight the close relationship between the United States, Slovakia and other allies in NATO,” US Embassy spokeswoman Stephanie Fitzmaurice said, adding that details of the move are being discussed.
The exercise is meant more as proof of solidarity with allies than a threat to Russia, security analyst Ivo Samson opined. He also pointed out that the Americans cannot expect such a warm welcome as the one that they had in the Czech Republic earlier this year.
In spring, an American military convoy passing on the way to a base in Germany was welcomed warmly in the Czech Republic. Initially, it seemed as though the armoured vehicles would be received negatively by the Czechs, with radicals occupying public spaces before the convoy entered the country. “The impression was given that there were as many opponents as supporters, but the reality was completely different,” said security analyst Lukáš Visingr. The convoy's journey through the Czech Republic did in fact look like a victory parade for the US Army.
The response of the Slovak public is much harder to predict, however. There is a large group of strongly pro-Russia-oriented people. Samson said that anti-American sentiment will rise mainly among the people who claim that the United States has replaced the USSR in military terms.
Since the convoy will cross Slovakia in the pre-election time, political analyst Jan Baránek assumes that this some political parties might try to make it a campaign issue.
Centre for European and North Atlantic Affairs Director Robert Ondrejcsák is of a similar opinion. “Some people will provoke hysteria, but my opinion is that the transfer of military equipment is a common practice,” he said for the daily. “Exercises taking place on our territory are much more important than such movements.”
After all, the transfer of equipment is mainly designed to show that “we are with you”. A de facto war is taking place in Ukraine, and the countries of the former Eastern bloc feel justifiably threatened. Even a small show of power can have a calming effect on allies close to Russian border. But there is also the feeling that the move is not just symbolic. The convoy in the spring was the longest in Europe since 1945.
“The Americans wanted to test out what it's like to hop into armoured transporters and hit the road,” said Visingr. According to him, there is a need to learn to carry out these moves in a matter of days and not need to plan for them months ahead, as is the case now.
US Stryker transporters will come from Vilseck in Bavaria; they will travel through the Czech Republic and Slovakia to Hungary, the Sme daily quoted the Czech website Lidovky.cz as reporting. The Brave Warrior exercise in Hungary will last for two months.
30. Jul 2015 at 13:08 | Compiled by Spectator staff