Russia Says Will Retaliate if US Weapons Stationed
on its Borders
June 15, 2015 "Information
Clearing House" - "Reuters"
- MOSCOW/WARSAW: A plan by Washington to
station tanks and heavy weapons in NATO states on Russia's border
would be the most aggressive U.S. act since the Cold War, and Moscow
would retaliate by beefing up its own forces, a Russian defense
official said Monday.
The United States is offering to store military equipment on allies'
territory in eastern Europe, a proposal aimed at reassuring
governments worried that after the conflict in Ukraine, they could
be the Kremlin's next target.
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
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 United States.
"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," 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
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
"Our hands are completely free to organize retaliatory steps to
strengthen our Western frontiers," Yakubov said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on the Pentagon
plan, citing the lack of any official announcements from the U.S.
U.S. 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
The idea was that, in the event of an attack on NATO's eastern
border, the United States could quickly fly in troops who would use
the equipment, cutting out the weeks or months it would take to
transport convoys of gear overland across Europe.
However, the U.S. proposal could cause tensions within NATO, an
alliance that often struggles to accommodate more hawkish members
such as Poland or Lithuania alongside other states that want to
avoid a military stand-off with Russia at any cost.
Speaking after talks in Warsaw with the U.S. Secretary of the Navy,
Ray Mabus, Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak said he expected
a final U.S. decision on the equipment within a few weeks.
"They know how important this is to us, because we want to build a
permanent U.S. presence, the allied army here on the Polish
territory," Siemoniak told reporters.
"It seems to me that such enterprises, that is equipment warehouses,
are a very crucial step when it comes to building such a presence."
Since Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula and a
rebellion by Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, Poland
and the Baltic states - countries with a history of Russian
occupation - have pushed NATO for a muscular response.
But proposals for a permanent NATO combat presence in eastern Europe
were blocked by Germany and some other alliance members. Instead,
NATO intensified exercises, rotating troops through the region and
set up a command headquarters for a rapid reaction force in
Sources close to the government in Poland, and other states in the
region, said that response persuaded them they could not fully rely
on NATO, and that their best bet in the event of an attack was that
the U.S. military would come to their aid.
At a NATO summit in Wales last year, agreement was reached on
"pre-positioning" military equipment in eastern Europe, but the
Pentagon's plan appeared to go further and faster than measures
envisaged by the alliance.
The initiative could force some former Warsaw Pact countries now in
NATO to make uncomfortable choices.
Bulgaria and Hungary both say they are committed members of the
alliance, but they have maintained close cultural and commercial
ties to Moscow, and may not want to jeopardize those links by
storing U.S. military equipment on their soil.
Rosen Plevneliev, the Bulgarian President, said it was too early to
say if his country would join the Pentagon's initiative.
"At the current moment there is no proposal whatsoever to the
Bulgarian government upon which we can start discussions," he said.
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