Nothing To Fear
(RFE/RL – rferl.org – The Daily Vertical: Brian Whitmore – July 18, 2016)
So the big talking point coming out of the Kremlin is that NATO is overreacting to a non-existent Russian threat.
According to Moscow, rotating just four combat battalion groups, a total of 4,000 troops, on the alliance’s eastern frontier constitutes a “provocation.”
According to Vladimir Putin’s regime, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland have absolutely nothing to fear from Russia.
Nothing, that is, except provocative military exercises and troop build-ups near their borders.
Nothing, that is, except Russian warplanes violating their airspace and flying without transponders.
Nothing, that is, except their citizens being kidnapped from their homelands.
Nothing, that is, except bellicose rhetoric from Russian officials, including suggestions that the independence of the Baltic states is illegitimate.
The troop deployments NATO just announced in its most vulnerable members can in no way be called an offensive force.
Four thousand soldiers, of course, aren’t nearly enough to mount an attack on Russia.
But they are clearly enough to establish a deterrent and set a marker; to send a clear message to Moscow that if you attack these countries, you will be engaging U.S., British, Canadian, and German troops.
Speaking after a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia would never attack a NATO member.
Maybe he’s telling the truth. But given that the man lies for a living, it’s probably best for the alliance to hedge its bets.