Russia is not backing down when it comes to dealing with NATO. On Friday a Russian envoy to NATO said that the country would increase its military forces in occupied Ukraine, also claiming that it is not banned from deploying nuclear arm in Crimea. The envoy, Alexander Grushko went on to say that all that his country has done in Crimea complies with its obligations under the Russian Federation’s international treaties. When Grushko was asked if nuclear weapons were being deployed to the Ukrain he declined to comment. The remarks were made in a video press release from Moscow at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
Captain Greg Hicks the European Command spokesperson called Grushko’s remarks “rhetoric” and that NATO would not alter its position because of it. He discussed how attempts to deploy nuclear weapons to Crimea would be destabilizing.
The House passed a defense authorization bill this week dealing with congressional concerns about deployments of nuclear weapons in Crimea. The bill would require congress be notified by the Secretary of Defense within seven days of Russia deploying nuclear weapons in Ukraine territory, and for the US to outline what its response would be.
The Baltic nations are also concerned, in response to fears of Russia’s expansion U.S. tanks were in an area of Estonian located 65 miles from the feared countries’ border. Estonia had its biggest military exercise since the Cold War, and other nations bordering the country have taken steps to avoid becoming the next Ukraine. Along with Estonia, Georgia, Lithuania, Poland and the Baltic Sea have all had separate training drills this week. Not only have these drills been a way to teach lessons in how Russia fights in a war, but as a warning to Vladimir Putin and his country, that they will not be so easily overtaken and will fight back, unlike in Crimea where Ukrainian forces surrendered, without even one shot being fired.
Grushko countered that the increase in NATO’s presence in Eastern Europe especially in Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia have caused Russia to not back down and in reality has forced them to increase its military forces in Crimea as a response to NATO. He called the increase in NATO’s military presence near his country unacceptable.
In Turkey on Thursday at a NATO meeting representatives from the Baltic states requested that the alliance permanently station forces in the area to deal with further threats from the country. As of now the alliance has 13,000 troop in Estonia, and is also directing large-scale anti-submarine exercises in the Baltic Sea. In recent months Russian submarines have been detected in the area. Support for Eastern Europe from NATO has been limited to increased surveillance flights, temporary deployments and exercises. Next week the Latvian Defense Ministry will send a formal request for permanent basing of troops.
NATO had announced last year after Russia seized Crimea that they would be deploying forces to the NATO countries whom border the country, and who have poor defenses. Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland have had rotating troops deployed since then. Rotating U.S. troops have gone through the countries and trained with their military even since a September visit by President Obama to Tallinn, the capital of Estonian. While there he pledge to send armed U.S. forces as part of a NATO alliance if called upon, saying that an attack on one is an attack on all.
Estonia had more than 13,000 troops practice their response to a military invasion from the fictional country of Alslavia. European and U.S. troops have played the part of the invaders and supplied air support with A-10 Warthog jets. The exercises named Operation Hedgehog has had a large impact on the small country. It has dominated the local news and taken reservist from their jobs. The town of Narva has been a point of worry for Estonia. The town borders Russia and has an 80 percent ethnically Russian population.
The increase of NATO close to Russia, and with reports of the them flying aircraft into the Baltic states’ airspace, and their nuclear threats is seems as if they have no intention of backing down. Their stance and NATO’s response to their actions have some fearing another Cold War.
By Jessica Hamel
The Washington Free Beacon: Russia Says It Can Deploy Nuclear Arms to Crimea
Value Walk: The West vs. Russia Tensions Are Spiraling Into Cold War
The Washington Post: Fearing Russian Expansion, Baltic Nations Step Up Military Exercises
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