Obama sends hundreds of tanks to Russian border
On Friday, January 6th, at the German port of Bremerhaven, hundreds of tanks, trucks, and other military equipment began arriving from the US. The transport ship Resolve has delivered the goods to the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, United States located in Eastern Europe, as reported by Reuters.
According to the agency, the two other American transports - Freedom and Endurance - should reach the coast of Germany today, 8th of January. In Bremerhaven, the military equipment is to be loaded into rail cars, and then sent to their destination via the territory of Germany and Poland. According to the Bundeswehr, 900 cars will be required for the transportation with a total length of 14 kilometers.
We recall that Washington's plans to deploy in Eastern Europe an armored brigade group became known in late April 2016. As the commander of the European Command of the US Armed Forces (EUCOM), General Philip Breedlove , this is a reaction to the "aggressive" policy of the Kremlin. On paper, the Americans plan looks impressive: 4,200 troops, 250 tanks and howitzers, military equipment and 1,700 additional vehicles.
The decision to deploy a third brigade in Europe is more costly to the Pentagon. The White House announced its intention to allocate over $ 3.4 billion in 2017, for additional weapons and equipment in Europe. The given figure is four times higher than the amount provided in the budget for 2016.
The new team will be different from the other two brigades of the US Army stationed in Germany and Italy. New barracks in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and the Baltic States will not be built. Personnel and equipment will change every nine months. The brigade will break into small units, which will then be placed in rotation in various countries. This approach Washington intend to ensure respect for the fundamental act of the NATO - Russia in 1997. Under its provisions, the alliance should refrain from the permanent deployment in Eastern Europe "substantial combat forces".
SP: Pentagon plans immediately caused a sharp reaction from the Kremlin. As Russia's permanent representative to NATO, Alexander Grushko said "they further complicate the already difficult relations" between Russia and NATO. The Permanent Representative described the intention of the US military leadership as taking "the next step, setting up a transition of NATO from watchdog to aggressive."
Will they will correct these plans once Donald Trump comes to power in the United States, how will Russia respond to the strengthening of NATO in Eastern Europe?
A. Polunin: Barack Obama began the transfer of 3rd Armoured Brigade in Europe earlier than planned - said a leading expert of the Center for Military-Political Studies of MGIMO, doctor of political science Mikhail Alexandrov . Initially, I remind you, the operation was scheduled for February 2017. This is done, of course, within the framework of the decisions of the Warsaw Summit of NATO to deploy four battalion tactical groups in Poland and the Baltic States.
Here it is necessary to understand that battalion tactical groups have the infrastructure for rapid deployment in the full team. Personnel can be airlifted and equipment is already in stock. This will be the most capable team of the West in Europe, plus they will support the Polish army, which is quite an impressive effect - taking into account that the aircraft can be quickly deployed from Germany and even from the United States.
As a result, the United States will be able to in two weeks to create the most powerful striking force on the borders of the Kaliningrad region.
On our side, I remember, there are only three divisions, plus the Baltic Fleet. However, NATO members could delay our fleet forces by bringing additional naval groups in the Baltic, where, incidentally, there is also the German Navy, and Polish. In other words, the West is really able to quickly establish superiority of forces in the region of Kaliningrad.
SP: How can we resist such a deployment?
A. Polunin: We can increase the grouping in most of the Kaliningrad region. But there is a small area, and we did not place a lot of troops on it. In addition, these compounds will be in direct impact zone. This means that if NATO decided to strike first, our troops will for the most part be destroyed.
In my opinion, the best option is to create two tank armies on the borders of Latvia and Lithuania. In this case, the alliance will not have illusions that it can capture the Kaliningrad region.
Even if Belarus will remain neutral - given the current "wobbly" policy of Alexander Lukashenko - our armored army rolls and passes through Latvia, Lithuania, and quickly come to the borders of the Kaliningrad region. As a result, our group in Kaliningrad will need to hold out for two or three days, and then crush the Polish army, and American teams with our tank armies.
The main thing, I repeat, NATO should have no doubt that we will crush them in the region even without the use of nuclear weapons.
Because now the alliance expects that we do not dare go to the use of nuclear weapons, and hopes for predominance in conventional weapons.
SP: Can Trump push back the Obama administration plans to strengthen in Eastern Europe?
A. Polunin: I think he can. But Obama just does everything to hinder this coming together. If what was planned is postponed until February, Trump - whose inauguration will be held January 20th - could postpone the transfer of troops to the talks with Vladimir Putin , and then completely abolish it.
But now Trump can not withdraw troops - otherwise he would be serious attacked on the part of all Russophobes and representatives of the US Democratic Party. Therefore, he will have to proceed with caution.
SP: What's the Kremlin to do in such a situation?
A. Polunin: Putin, I believe he needs to have a conversation about making NATO return to its promise - not to deploy substantial forces in Eastern Europe - and that US troops were withdrawn. Otherwise we will be forced to take retaliatory measures that are adequate.
However, Trump himself must decide whether he aims at the continuation of confrontation with Russia, or wants to change the vector of foreign policy. In theory, he could blackmail us increasing in Eastern Europe in the hope that we will bargain on Syria, as well as with regard to Iran and China.
But if Trump really dares such blackmail, it will be a failing policy. In this case we are not going to retreat, and force Americans to delay more forces on the Eastern European front. As a result, Washington has no strength left to resist Beijing or solve problems in the Middle East. So that Trump should think twice before he goes to the escalation of tensions on the Russia-US line.
A correction of the NATO course in Eastern Europe is possible, but not in the near future, according to the deputy director of the Tauride information-analytical center Sergey Ermakov RISS.
An advanced military presence is a very important thing for the Americans. In addition, anti-Russian legislative initiatives, which came from Obama at the end of his presidency, has a certain inertia. With that Trump will have to be considered. It's no coincidence that American political scientists believe that the way of the new US president delivered a maximum of barriers, so that he too came closer to Russia.
In addition, the question now acutely rise, what will come of NATO? The alliance in recent years formed several centers of power - Western Europe, the neophytes, who are ready to support the United States in every way, plus Turkey, which is now playing a big foreign game.
This makes NATO an important tool for the United States, despite Trump's claims about the futility of the alliance. It is realized through the NATO military policy of the USA. And in order to support the alliance, keep it afloat and justify its appropriateness, the Americans really need a military presence in Eastern Europe.