Russia Threatens Retaliation if US Troops Enter Baltics

Russia Threatens Retaliation if US Troops Enter BalticsRussia Threatens Retaliation if US Troops Enter Baltics

A plan by Washington to station tanks and heavy weapons in NATO states on Russia’s border would be the most aggressive US act since the Cold War, and Moscow would retaliate by beefing up its own forces, a Russian defense official said on Monday.

“If heavy US military equipment, including tanks, artillery batteries and other equipment really 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,” Russian defense ministry official General Yuri Yakubov said.

“Russia will have no option but to build up its forces and resources on the western strategic front,” Interfax news agency quoted him as saying, World Bulletin reported.

He said the Russian response was likely to include speeding up the deployment of Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave bordered by Poland and Lithuania, and beefing up Russian forces in ex-Soviet Belarus.

“Our hands are completely free to organize retaliatory steps to strengthen our western frontiers,” Yakubov said.

The US is offering to store military equipment on allies’ territory in Eastern Europe. Poland and the Baltic states, where officials say privately they have been frustrated the NATO alliance has not taken more decisive steps to deter Russia, welcomed the decision by Washington to take the lead.

But others in the region were more cautious, fearing their countries could be caught in the middle of a new arms race between Russia and the US.

US officials said their proposal envisages storing a company’s worth of equipment, enough for 150 soldiers, in each of the three Baltic nations: Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Enough equipment for a company or possibly a battalion, or about 750 soldiers, would also be located in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and possibly Hungary.

Meanwhile, the US and China signed a rare agreement to strengthen military relations. Beijing has said that progress can only be made if Washington respects China’s South China Sea ambitions.

The understanding is a deepening of cooperation between the two countries, following a meeting between Fan Changlong, the vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission and US Defense Secretary, Ashton Carter.

Washington and Beijing will look to collaborate on issues such as disaster response, peacekeeping, and counter-piracy, whilst entertaining the possibility of the two countries conducting drills together in the future.