mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Shake That Saber
US to Arm E. Europe, Moscow Stamps Foot

Reacting to this weekend’s announcement by the United States that it was considering positioning equipment for up to 5,000 troops in the Baltics and surrounding countries, Russia unleashed the mouths of its generals. Reuters:

“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 saying.

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 Russian Foreign Ministry said: “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.”

This kind of language coming from the Kremlin has two main audiences. One, of course, is domestic. Since the Maidan revolution in Ukraine, Russian media has been incessantly running with the narrative that the United States is hell-bent on thwarting Russia at every turn, and is considering everything from fomenting a fake “color” revolution to using its military to achieve regime change in Moscow. The Pentagon’s announcement offers a freebie “I told you so” for Russia’s propagandists.

But Russia’s strategists also know that setting up rapid-reaction capabilities in the Baltics is far from the most NATO can do. They know that if NATO were to commit more fully by, say, permanently stationing troops in the region as the Balts and Poles so very much want, Russia would have trouble meeting the challenge head-on. Even after years of investment in modernizing its armed services since the brief war in Georgia, the Russians are by some estimates already stretched thin by the fight in Ukraine.

Thus the talk of setting up Iskanders in Kaliningrad, a thinly veiled rattle of the nuclear saber, is actually directed at wavering NATO allies. The Russians saw last week’s Pew poll like everyone else; they know most Europeans wouldn’t want to send troops to aid fellow NATO allies being threatened by Russia. The goal is to try to drive a wedge in the alliance—a game the Soviets loved to play throughout the Cold War.

Will Russia’s gambit work? It might. The Germans have been reliable opponents of permanently stationing NATO troops in Eastern Europe, and Reuters’ report indicates that the Bulgarians and Hungarians, potential hosts for some of the prepositioned equipment, are already hedging when asked about the U.S. proposal.

So what should the White House do? As our own Andrew Michta has pointed out, NATO only properly functions when the United States firmly and unequivocally takes a lead. And leading in this case not only means pressing forward with the proposal now that it has been revealed, but also doing our outmost to win over allies already getting the vapors.

Can the Obama Administration pull this off? We certainly hope so. Pivoting away from Europe cannot be an option, even as the world gets more unpredictable and dangerous with every passing week.

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  • fastrackn1

    “Can the Obama Administration pull this off?”


  • Andrew Allison

    Anybody care to bet that the most pusillanimous administration in the history of the US won’t temporize?

  • adk

    “…announcement by the United States that it was considering positioning equipment for up to 5,000 troops in the Baltics and surrounding countries”

    The key word is “considering”. Reminds of other Obama’s public “considerations”: to supply arms to moderate Syrian opposition and to Ukraine (nothing happened in both cases.) Normally, you don’t make your internal considerations public until you are actually ready for action, otherwise it’s called bluffing and, after a time or two of that, nobody takes you or your threats seriously, and that’s where Obama is now. So it remains to be seen whether he learned anything form his past debacles. If not… well, I don’t know whether he can fall any lower vis-a-vis hard men of Russia, Iran and China.

  • Руслан Дружелюбный

    USA is pushing Europe to war with Russia,it is profitable to cover its foreign debt

  • Gurza Gurza

    You are so stupid and primitive in their analytics that your articles in Russian only cause LOL. Believe me, we are ready for war is well and ready to crush your brazen challenge. Unlike the 80s, and we are ready for nuclear war. Currently, more than 50% of the Russian army – contractors professionals. We regularly conduct exercises where sharpen their mobility, controls ralioelektronnoy struggle and everything else. Mass buy the latest weapons and uniforms. Sudden test the combat capability have become permanent. With regard Uraine – believe me, the Russian army is not there. We are able to stop the war there for 72 hours. Russia and Ukraine are different weight classes. In fact, Ukraine has no army.

  • Nevis07

    The Putinbots have officially discovered TAI, I see.

    • Gurza Gurza

      Dumb Pindos, I personally am not a supporter of Putin. He spends too soft policy towards your country and your mongrel monkey.

      • Nevis07

        The fact that you and Руслан Дружелюбный are both new commentator are great evidence of what I’ve stated. I also see your up-voting pseudonym “slide” is also new. No more than 3 comments to any of your profiles.

        TAI staff: please consider turning comments off entirely from the site if they start to infest the site. I see enough of their propaganda BS elsewhere. I’d prefer at least one site that stays free of their interference.

        • Gurza Gurza

          I repeat once again that you’re stupid, like all Pindos. My sister lived two years in Alabama. The primitive and stupid nation, so you and the family is ruled by Bush and monkeys. As to where I am. Here is a link where pervod this article in Russian:

        • Slide

          Similarly, I bot that uses to answer ridiculous lie)) I do not want to learn English, , because soon the whole world will speak Russian))

  • Сергей

    once again to blame for the fact that the US and NATO are targeting
    their missiles at us and placed its troops on the border of the Russian
    Federation. Maybe it is time to more actively support Nicaragua and Venezuela? It is possible to place air defense missiles and the Russian Federation – “to protect the region from Iran.” You can also place anti-complexes “Bastion”. Then the terrorists will not be able to attack free nations.
    But the United States will certainly be to blame – they provoke Russia that protects Venezuela and Nicaragua. US attempts to impose its own free nations of America dictates must be prevented. The imperial ambitions of the United States interfere with the free countries of Latin America.
    Россия в очередной раз виновата в том что США и НАТО нацеливают на нас свои ракеты и размещают свои войска на границе РФ. Может быть уже пора более активно оказать поддержку Никарагуа и Венесуэле? Там можно разместить ПВО РФ и ракетные комплексы – “для защиты региона от Ирана”. Там же можно разместить противокорабельны комплексы “Бастион”. Тогда террористы не смогут напасть на свободные страны.
    Ну а США конечно будут виноваты – они провоцирую Россию которая защищает Венесуэлу и Никарагуа. Попытки США навязывать свободным странам Америки свой диктат должны быть пресечены. Имперские амбиции США мешают свободным странам Латинской Америки.

    • Loader2000

      Always interpret the actions of your adversaries as if they were acting in their own best interest (unless they are ruled by a crazy dictator) and economic plays the largest role in self interest. The US has NO interest in invading Russia or in starting a war between Russia and Eastern Europe. We gain nothing economically by war. I repeat, we gain nothing economically by war. We gain nothing economically by weakening Russia. US doens’t buy gas from Russia. US doesn’t compete with Russia economically in most areas (weapon sales are the exception), US does not compete with territory with Russia. However, we do gain economically by preventing war and instability in eastern Europe. Thus, for whatever reason, many in the US believe that future war will be prevented by placing tanks and defensive missiles in Eastern Europe. Perhaps they are wrong. However, economic stability in Eastern Europe is their motivation. Economic stability and prosperity are always the motivation. If the news tells you otherwise, then the news has learned that they benefit economically by telling you that, not because it is true. It is always the economy.

      • Сергей

        1. The United States has a plan Prompt Global Strike nuclear potential of Russia. While this technique does not allow such a plan but there are
        hypersonic missiles out of the ABM Treaty, missile defenses around the
        borders of the Russian Federation – is the fulfillment of this plan.
        2. The economic and political power of the United States are primarily
        concerned with the wars that took place mostly in Europe – the first and
        second world wars. US plays the role of a safe haven for finance – so many countries use the dollar. Therefore, the US has a direct interest in the destabilization of the situation in Europe.
        3. Competing US and Russia – oil, gas, weapons, aircraft, automobiles,
        metal production, space, GPS against Glonass, the fuel for nuclear power
        plants and the construction of nuclear power plants, banking,
        agricultural products, building combines for farmers – and much more .
        4. The United States bombed in Europe one of the European capitals – Belgrade. And thereby destroyed the system of international law. Now the US is involved in a coup in Ukraine (even Obama acknowledges this in his interview). Therefore, if the United States put the Nazis adopted the Ukraine –
        Russia will take retaliatory action against the United States.
        Yes, the economy is closely linked to politics. First of all it demonstrates the US – using political influence by getting rid of the competition. The
        political influence of the United States based on military might (700
        military bases around the world and the huge military budget). The United States is an empire – in the old classical sense.

        1. США имеет план молниеносного глобального удара по ядерному потенциалу РФ. Пока технологи этого не позволяют но такой план есть и гиперзвуковые ракеты, выход из договора ПРО, размещение ПРО вокруг границ РФ – это исполнение этого плана.
        2. Экономическое и политическое могущество США в первую очередь связаны с войнами которые проходили преимущественно на территории Европы – первая и вторая мировые войны. США играют роль тихой гавани для финансов – поэтому многие страны используют доллар. Поэтому у США прямая заинтересованность дестабилизации обстановки в Европе.
        3. Конкуренция США и РФ – нефть, газ, вооружение, самолеты, автомобили, производство металлов, космос, GPS против Глонасс, топливо для атомных станций и строительство атомных станций, банковский сектор, продукция сельского хозяйства, строительство комбайнов для фермеров – и много другое.
        4. США в Европе бомбили одну из европейских столиц – Белград. И этим самым разрушили систему международного права. Теперь США причастны к государственному перевороту на Украине (даже Обама признает это в своем интервью). Поэтому если США поставят вооружение нацистам на Украине – Россия будет предпринимать ответные действия направленные против США.
        Да экономика тесно связана с политикой. В первую очередь это демонстрируют США – используя политическое влияние избавляясь от конкурентов. Политическое влияние США основано на военном могуществе (700 военных баз по всему миру и огромный военный бюджет). США это империя – в старом классическом смысле.

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