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Russia warns Poland and Baltics of “retaliatory measures”
While NATO readies to deploy additional forces in frontline states bordering Russia, Moscow warned these will be met by three new military divisions.
Russian Foreign Ministry department chief, Andrei Kelin, told Interfax that NATO is heading towards “a very dangerous build-up of armed forces pretty close to our borders” that will require these “retaliatory measures.”
This echoes Sergey Lavrov’s warning last week to Sweden not to join NATO saying that it is the Euro-Atlantic alliance “getting closer to Russia, not the opposite.”
The US is planning to deploy four battalions in Poland and the Baltic States, two US, one German, and one British. US Defense Secretary Ash Carter confirmed on May 3 the plan to base the new battalions in the Baltic region. On April 28, the German Ministry of Defense signaled it is now ready to move 250 troops in the buildup of a deterrent force against Russia that will rotate in and out of each of the Baltic States, Poland and Romania. In January the deployment of 1,000 troops in Poland from 2017 onward.
The total NATO force will amount to 4,000 troops, according to Wall Street Journal. In February, Washington vowed to quadruple budgetary and military commitment to front-line countries facing Russia with no less than €3,11 bn.
In no uncertain terms, Poland has been spearheading a demand for an affirmation of NATO’s commitment to Article V in effect rather than in principle, with boots on the ground. Across the Baltics, NATO member states have seen Crimea’s annexation in March 2014 as Europe’s relapse in a security environment where there is a traditional danger to national sovereignty rather than a terrorist threat to human security alone.
Writing to Foreign Policy, Poland’s Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski urged NATO to face up to the Russian “menace” and use the Euro-Atlantic summit in Warsaw this July to renew “marriage vows.” Washington seems to respond positively, but there are one ro two unsettled questions the allies will have to resolve.
“The marriage” will require the discussion about dowry, or the cost of defense. NATO allies have made a commitment in 2006 of spending 2% of their GDP on defense. Of the 28 NATO member states, only five meet this requirement.