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NATO Military Buildup In the Baltics Continues

Feb. 10, 2017 (EIRNS)—The U.S./NATO military buildup, set into motion under the presidency of Barak Obama, is continuing to run on autopilot. On Feb. 7, hundreds of German troops were welcomed to Lithuania by Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite. The Germans are to form the core of the NATO battlegroup for Lithuania. On Feb. 10, they were followed by an armored company of 120 U.S. troops who brought with them ten M1 tanks and five Bradley fighting vehicles. The Baltic states are demanding even more from NATO, however, and are using the Russian Zapad 2017 exercise scheduled for next September as the pretext.

"We see that risks are increasing, and we are worried about the upcoming ’Zapad 2017’ exercise, which will deploy a very large and aggressive force (on our borders) that will very demonstrably be preparing for a war with the West,"

Grybauskaite said after talks with her counterparts from Latvia and Estonia in Riga, according toa report in Reuters.

"This means that we will be talking with NATO about creating additional standing defense plans, about stationing additional military means and about creating a faster decision- making process",

she said. Reuters added that the three Baltic leaders will be lobbying U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis for additional U.S. troops during the Munich Security Conference on Feb. 17-19.

The Russians, not surprisingly, are responding to the continued NATO buildup.

"The alliance is known to have deployed hundreds of military bases along the rather big perimeter around Russia. The real increase of the number of NATO troops in countries neighboring Russia through permanent rotation of contingents as well as lack of the constructive dialogue with us urge Russia to take serious retaliatory steps,"

Russia’s ambassador to Lithuania, Alexander Udaltsov, told Sputnik, this morning. At the same time, however, he kept open the door to Russian-Lithuanian cooperation on matters of mutual interest.

"Russia, by the way, can cooperate closer with Lithuania in terms of curtailing terrorism threats, promoting safety of the borders. We have such proposals, so it is possible to go ahead with their realization,"

Udaltsov said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also addressed the NATO buildup, today. "The ongoing activities of the alliance in the regions adjoining Russian borders are certainly provocative and destabilizing," he told Izvestiya in an interview. Lavrov said Russia would shape its response to emerging risks accordingly and "is taking steps to neutralize potential and real threats."

"Russia is a peaceful country. But our peacefulness is based on the capability to ensure the country’s security in any situation. We continue to advocate a soonest deescalation of the military-political situation in Europe,"

he added.