Exclusive to The Middle East Online
Edited by Nelly Tawil
Russia could steamroll NATO forces in just 60 hours, a leading US defence official has warned amid rising tensions with the west.
The worrying claim comes as Russia deploys troops westward in association with its ongoing standoff with NATO.
Michael Carpenter, the US Deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, reported to a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that the West and NATO were currently not ideally prepared to deal with a Russian threat.
Mr. Carpenter believes the threat would decline after 2017 due to recently approved US defense expenditures.
“I don’t know that we’re significantly more advanced now than when the RAND Corporation report came out,” Carpenter told Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee. “But I’m confident by the end of 2017, when we have an additional armoured brigade combat team worth of force posture on the eastern flank of the alliance, that we will be,” he assured.
The warning over increasing Russian aggression comes just four months after non-profit global policy think tank RAND raised “concerns about its larger intentions” and speculated Russian forces could reach those areas in 60 hours.
“Russia clearly possesses a time-distance advantage, if it were to decide to be an aggressor in the Baltic States,” Carpenter said. “We are making the investments … to have forces prepositioned, along with more fighting equipment, so that we are better able to deter Russian aggression in the first place.”
Ahead of the NATO summit set to take place in Warsaw in July, Poland is hosting unprecedented war games on its territory, which began on Monday. Over 31,000 troops from 24 countries are taking part in NATO’s Anaconda 2016 war drills in Poland – the largest war games in Eastern Europe since the Cold War.
Lithuania is hosting another NATO military exercise, the Iron Wolf 2016 war games, which are the largest this year. The exercise started on Monday and involves some heavy military hardware deployed for the occasion by visiting members of the alliance.
The West claims that the string of recent military drills is to assure Eastern Europe of NATO’s full commitment to defending them against Russia. Meanwhile Moscow maintains it has no plans at all to interfere with any country in the region, and expressed concerns over the destabilizing and threatening NATO military build-up along the Russian borders.