Russia Reacts to US, NATO Military Buildup

More Russian Iskander Missiles could be deployed in the Kaliningrad enclave
More Russian Iskander Missiles could be deployed in the Kaliningrad enclave

Russia threatened US, NATO to deploy more forces on its borders and deploy more Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad if there is a military equipment buildup in eastern Europe and the Baltic States.

Military.com reported that Yury Yakubov, a senior Defense Ministry official, said that Russia would deploy more troops on its borders if the US deployment is confirmed.

“Russia will have no other choice but to boost its military potential along its western borders” to counter the U.S. move that is still in the planning stages, Russian Gen. Yury Yakubov, a senior Defense Ministry official, told the Russian Interfax news agency.

The United States announced on Monday that it is considering deploying a formidable amount of equipment in eastern Europe and the Baltic States to facilitate, according to Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren, its future training in the region.

Russia, however, voiced its concern over this deployment and said it would be the most aggressive move by the US and NATO since the end of the Cold War.

Yakubov dismissed the Pentagon’s claims. “If America’s heavy arms, be it tanks, artillery systems or other heavy military hardware, are deployed to Eastern Europe and the Baltic States, it will be the Pentagon’s and NATO’s most aggressive step since the end of the Cold War a quarter of a century ago,” he said.

Kaliningrad, Russia’s first line of defence against NATO, would play a vital part in the Russian response against the American deployment of equipment. In fact, Russia would hasten its missile brigade rearmament program to use the new Iskander missile system.

The Iskander missiles are capable of hitting, with precision, targets at more than 500 kilometres and can be equipped with conventional or nuclear warheads. The real problem for NATO is that the Iskander missiles are positioned to allow Russia to hit many NATO countries.

Iskander Infographic. Courtesy of RIA NOVOSTI
Iskander Infographic. Courtesy of RIA NOVOSTI

In fact, the Iskander missile can reach Warsaw, Vilnius and Riga. Three NATO country’s capital are within range and other various strategic point within these countries are also vulnerable.

Iskander range. Warsaw, Poland and Vilvius, Lithuania could be hit by an Iskander missile. Courtesy of Bilyana Lilly, an international relations expert and consultant specializing in Russian foreign and domestic policy, NATO, U.S. foreign policy, and international security.
Iskander range (maximum 500km). Courtesy of Bilyana Lilly

Bilyana Lilly is an international relations expert and consultant specializing in Russian foreign and domestic policy, NATO, U.S. foreign policy, and international security. She is also the author of Russian Foreign Policy toward Missile Defense: Actors, Motivations, and Influence, published by Lexington Bookks. You can follow her on Twitter.

Adding to that, Russia would reinforce its military presence on its borders with NATO. Yakubov confirmed that Russia could deploy tank and artillery capabilities. In fact, Russia would most likely deploy troops on the Nerva river and near the Riga-Zulipe train route, enabling them to easily launch an attack against  the Baltic States. This menace, however, could be contained by NATO, especially if the US goes forward with its deployment of equipment in the region.

The T-72b3 could very well be deployed on Russia's border to counter US equipment builup in the region
The T-72b3 could very well be deployed on Russia’s border to counter US equipment buildup in the region.

That said, the probability of seeing Russia launching an attack on the Baltic States is extremely low. It is also their right to secure their borders, especially since NATO is moving forward with more weapons and troops.

Despite the tension buildup in the region, both NATO and Russia has no desire to launch an attack on each other. As many say, NATO has a defensive posture while Russia has an offensive one. This is not always completely true, however. NATO is moving more weapons eastward whereas Russia is slowly building up its forces on its borders, meaning that the two old enemies are presently conducting defensive deployments.

This is a typical Cold War scenario. In that case, we will most likely witness new proxy wars such as the current Ukraine conflict; Russia is clearly helping rebels in eastern Ukraine and many NATO countries are providing assistance to train new Ukrainian recruits so they can quickly be moved forward.

The issue here is that Ukrainians are the one suffering from this ongoing conflict and are placed between Russia and NATO, an impossible position to take.

Russian threats are to be taken seriously and NATO should maybe reconsider its deployment of equipment near the border. On the other side, Russia should stop supplying eastern Ukraine rebels with military equipment and goods. Both moves would clearly ease tensions and diplomatic channel could be reopened for dialogue.

Until then, we will only see an escalation of threats and massive deployments of troops.

 

 

 

 

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Jonathan Wade, CD

Jonathan Wade is the director of the ‘The Sentinel Analytical Group’ and a decorated veteran of the Canadian Forces. Specialized in tactical, strategic, intelligence and geopolitics analysis, Jonathan has a fondness for technical details. His military experience brought him valuable insight on the realities of conflicts and war. A combat veteran of Afghanistan, Jonathan brings in in-theatre experience. Jonathan writes about Russia, Canada and Arctic.