NATO Militarization of the Baltics: The Stone in Russia’s Shoe
Jan. 19, 2016 (EIRNS)—A number of Russian military experts see the U.S. and NATO turning the Baltic countries into an armed camp; and what they see is a replay of the German build-up to the invasion of Russia in 1941. Like Nazi Germany then, NATO insists that its build-up is purely defensive and no threat to Russia.
When asked about this, Ivan Konovalov, the director of the Center for the Study of Strategic Trends, a Moscow-based military think tank, told Svobodnaya Pressa bluntly:
"Surely you must agree that it is difficult to see how Abrams tanks and artillery can be considered equipment with a purely defensive purpose? Russia was forced to respond because it reminded it of the situation in 1941, when the Germans moved large formations up to our borders, while simultaneously talking about their defensive nature."
Konovalov noted that, as a result of this NATO military build-up, Russia is redeploying forces internally, including three new ground forces divisions announced by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, last week, to cover the approaches from the Baltic countries.
Konovalov also noted the presence of the current stockpile of B61 bombs in Europe—slated to be replaced by the modernized B61-12.
"The same NATO planes which are now permanently patrolling Baltic airspace, flying near our borders, could be loaded up [with such weapons],"
"Europe now has 200 such bombs. Accordingly, the 16 aircraft at the bases at Zokniai, Lithuania, or Amari, Estonia, can carry them onboard. And the pilots of these countries have been trained on how to use such weapons."
Again on the Russian response, veteran defense commentator Viktor Litovkin compares the NATO military build-up in the Baltics to having a stone in your shoe: very small but so irritating that eventually you have to do something about it.
"This NATO ‘stone in our shoe’ will force Moscow to react. And the U.S. is actively trying to provoke another arms race in order to weaken our country economically,"
he said. And the three new divisions are but a small part of what Russia will do to remove the stone in its shoe.