U.S. criticizes Russian build-up near Baltic states

U.S. criticizes Russian build-up near Baltic states

Introduction — May 16, 2017

Britain is sending tanks, drones and 800 troops to Estonia next year as part of the biggest military build-up on Russia's borders since the Cold War. Click to enlarge

The U.S. and its NATO allies are engaged in a steady build-up of men and equipment in eastern Europe, often close to the border with Russia.
Hundreds of British troops have deployed to Estonia, US Air Force F-35As have deployed to an air base in Estonia while German Leopard 2 Tanks have also recently arrived in Estonia to participate in NATO drills.
This is ostensibly to deter “Russian aggression” following Moscow’s re-incorporation of Crimea. However, this pointedly ignores the fact that Crimea voted overwhelmingly to rejoin the Federation.
So for the Western media to refer to “Russia’s annexation of Crimea”, as it often does, is deliberately deceptive. More to the point the following article ignores the fact that Russia’s military build-up in its western regions is largely in response to NATO’s deploying its forces close to Russia’s western border.
To put that in perspective: imagine what would happen if Russia started deploying troops and tanks in Mexico near the U.S. border. To understand how the U.S. would respond we have only to recall the Cuban Missile Crisis when Russia and America came as close as they’ve ever been to direct military confrontation.
Yet America and its allies are now doing much the same thing now on Russia’s doorstep.
The Western media is playing a key part as the possibility of conflict looms. For example the following report claims:
U.S. allies are jittery ahead of war games by Russia and Belarus in September that could involve up to 100,000 troops and include nuclear weapons training — the biggest such exercise since 2013.
The drills could see Russian troops near the borders of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
The more observant will note that although Russian troops may indeed be near the borders of “Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia”, THEY WILL STILL BE IN RUSSIA!! Unlike many NATO troops who are currently deploying in eastern Europe, hundreds and in some cases thousands of miles from their home countries. Ed.

U.S. criticizes Russian build-up near Baltic states

Phil Stewart and Andrius Sytas — Reuters May 10, 2017

US troops en route to NATO drills in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Click to enlarge

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Wednesday that a Russian missile deployment near the Baltic states was “destabilizing”, and officials suggested the United States could deploy a Patriot missile battery in the region for NATO exercises in the summer.

U.S. allies are jittery ahead of war games by Russia and Belarus in September that could involve up to 100,000 troops and include nuclear weapons training — the biggest such exercise since 2013.

The drills could see Russian troops near the borders of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Russia has also deployed Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, its enclave on the Baltic Sea. It said the deployment was part of routine drills, but U.S. officials worry that it may represent a permanent upgrade.

Asked during a trip to Lithuania about the deployment, Mattis told a news conference: “Any kind of build-up like that is simply destabilizing.”

The United States is ruling out any direct response to the Russian drills or the Iskander deployment.

But at the same time, U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, raised the possibility that a Patriot missile battery could be deployed briefly to the Baltic region during NATO exercises in July that focus on air defense, known as Tobruk Legacy.

The officials stressed that the Patriots, if deployed, would be withdrawn when the exercises were over. That would most likely happen before the Russian drills began, they said.

Mattis declined to comment directly on the possible Patriot deployment to reporters after talks in Vilnius.

“The specific systems that we bring are those that we determine necessary,” Mattis said, saying that NATO capabilities in the region were purely defensive.

BALTIC FEARS

It was Mattis’s first trip to the Baltic states, which fear Russia could attack them in the same way that it annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014. The states are concerned about their lack of air defenses and considering upgrading their military hardware.

Asked about Baltic air defenses on a visit to the Pabrade training ground, Mattis told reporters:

“We will talk to the leaders of each of the nations, and we will work this out in Brussels and we will work together if necessary.

“The reason for the deployment you see right now is the lack of respect for international law by a nation in the region, and so long as the nation shows respect, we would not have to deploy that,” Mattis told reporters, standing in front of a German Leopard tank.

A German-led battalion was deployed to Lithuania this year as part of a NATO effort to deter any Russian aggression.

Continues …

 

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