Two weeks ago I wrote about US troops landing in Germany as they prepared for their deployment to the Baltic States and Poland as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve. On Tuesday, the United States signed a defense cooperation agreement with the Baltic States and Poland to finalize American commitment to the region. The US deployment involves 4,000 troops, including 87 tanks, 144 up-armored vehicles, aircraft, and an unknown number of U.S. Special Forces. Additionally, Norway a NATO member, has also just received 300 U.S. Marines as part of a separate winter training operation to be held over the next year.
In the months leading up to the NATO’s recent activities, Russia has been deploying units of its own to north western Russia and Kaliningrad.
In the region of Kaliningrad and the Baltic Sea more than 50 ships, two submarines, several S-400 air-defense systems, air and naval support units were among the tactical elements deployed. And in Kaliningrad, Russia deployed nuclear capable ballistic missiles (the SS-26) for military exercises. Although, the Kremlin maintains that theses weapons systems were only deployed as a response to the US deployment of the ‘Aegis Ashore’ anti-missile shield in Romania. The deputy head of the Defense Committee Klintsevich, said, “They [SS-26] do not bear any threat, they are designed to ensure the security of our territory in the event of any real threat. Nothing else.”
This comes at a time after the publication of an interesting military war-game by the Rand Corporation, a prevalent think tank in VA. The report read, “Across multiple games using a wide range of expert participants playing both sides, the longest it has taken Russian forces to reach the outskirts of Tallinn (Estonia) and Riga (Latvia) is 60 hours.” Clearly, the several thousand troops deployed by the US are no match for the tens of thousands of Russian troops just across the Baltic border. But much in the same way the US deployed troops to West Berlin as a trip-wire against Soviet aggression, the US has once again decided to use similar tactics today.
In response to the US and NATO’s deployment to the Baltic States and Poland, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said “We perceive it as a threat. These actions threaten our interests, our security. Especially as it concerns a third party building up its military presence near our borders.”
This quote gives an interesting insight into Russia’s, and more likely Vladimir Putin’s thought process. Russia quite obviously sees the world as 0-sum. The more another country has, the less Russia will have. And so, Russia’s security is equated to the insecurity of those along its borders.