In response to a Defense Department proposal to deploy heavy weapons to three Baltic States and four Eastern European nations, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a short statement protesting the strategy and appealed to the U.S. to avoid any military build-up which could induce any potential confrontation.
“We hope that reason will prevail and the situation in Europe will be prevented from sliding into a new military confrontation which may have dangerous consequences,” the Foreign Ministry said in the statement.”
Among the nations being considered as hosts for American troops, tanks, heavy weapons and armored vehicles are: Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, Poland, Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria. Despite the plan, which is still the subject to the approval of both the Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, and the White House, the motion is subject to consultation with Congress and approval by NATO. NATO defense ministers meet in Brussels later this month.
“If heavy U.S. military equipment, including tanks, artillery batteries and other equipment really does turn up in countries in eastern Europe and the Baltics, that will be the most aggressive step by the Pentagon and NATO since the Cold War. Russia will have no option but to build up its forces and resources on the Western strategic front. Our hands are completely free to organize retaliatory steps to strengthen our Western frontiers,” Russian defense ministry official General Yuri Yakubov said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin responded similarly:
“We will be forced to aim our armed forces … at those territories from where the threat comes. It is NATO that is moving towards our border and we aren’t moving anywhere.” Putin told a joint news conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto after talks at a presidential residence outside Moscow.
In response to NATO actions, the Russian leader announced plans to introduce 40 additional nuclear missiles to compliment its current nuclear stockpile. As Putin spoke at an arms fair, he asserted the new Russian projectiles are capable of outclassing the most sophisticated anti-missile defense systems.
[rt.com] [nytimes.com] [reuters]