Russia will form three new military divisions to face off with Nato troops due to be deployed in Poland and the Baltic states, officials in Moscow threatened on May 4.
Nato is ready to station four battalions in Poland and the Baltic states, the US media reported on April 30. The deployment is part of efforts to strengthen the alliance’s eastern flank in the face of Russia’s reinvigorated military activity. The countries in the region have been calling for a greater presence from the military alliance since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014.
Russia will form three new military divisions to counter what it believes is the growing strength Nato near its borders, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu announced. He was backed up by other officials, who spoke as the climate of tension mounts. The US has slammed Moscow in recent weeks, claiming Nato ships in the Baltic Sea have been dangerously buzzed by Russian planes.
Should the plan go ahead, Moscow will be forced to take retaliatory measures, Andrei Kelin, a department head at the Russian foreign ministry said, according to Interfax. “This would be a very dangerous build-up of armed forces pretty close to our borders. I am afraid this would require certain retaliatory measures, which the Russian Defence Ministry is already talking about,” the official claimed.
The US will provide two battalions, and Germany and Britain one each. The plan is just the latest in a series of pledges from the alliance intended to assure eastern members they will not be left without support.
In February, Washington announced a budgetary boost of $3.4bn (€3.11bn) to send extra heavy weapons, armoured vehicles and other equipment to the CEE region. The following month, an additional armoured brigade for the region was detailed.
US Defense Secretary Ash Carter confirmed on May 3 the plan to base the new battalions in the Baltic region is being considered, claiming Russia is acting aggressively in Europe and that Moscow is "going backward in time". That compels a US military buildup on Nato's eastern flank, he insisted.
"We do not seek to make Russia an enemy," he asserted. "But make no mistake: We will defend our allies, the rules-based international order, and the positive future it affords us.”