TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - Moscow could deploy more forces, including Iskander-M tactical missile systems, to its western regions in response to the US deployment of additional forces to Poland, the head of the Russian parliament’s Defense Committee said.
Russia will “most certainly” respond to the ongoing military buildup at its western borders, Vladimir Shamanov, the head of the Russian State Duma’s Defense Committee and a former airborne troops commander, said.
“That may result in not only an increase of the number of military personnel, but could also involve strengthening our Iskander-M group, in [Russia’s western exclave of] Kaliningrad in particular,” he added, as cited by TASS.
The MP once again slammed US actions in Eastern Europe by saying that Washington is building up its troops in the region without consulting with Russia, in violation of international agreements.
Such an angry reaction by the head of the Duma’s Defense Committee was provoked by reports that the US recently “covertly”sent a new mechanized brigade to Poland, effectively increasing the overall strength of its military group in the Eastern European state to the level of a mechanized division.
Against the background of Western concerns around the joint Russian-Belarusian ‘Zapad-2017’ drills, “the US 2nd Armored Brigade arrived and took up positions in Poland, [bringing in] its own military hardware,” Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov, said Thursday.
He claimed the equipment of the 3rd US Armored Brigade, which was previously stationed in the region, “remained in place.” The ministry’s spokesman drew attention to the fact that the US could easily redeploy its trained military personnel from the German Rammstein base to Poland within just two hours.
“In contrast to the claims of NATO and the US on the insignificance of the troops approaching the Russian border, in fact now it is not a brigade there but a US mechanized military division,” he said.
The major general added that, under NATO's Operation Atlantic Resolve rotation scheme, the 3rd Armored Brigade should not have brought its own military equipment to Poland but should instead use that left by the 2nd Armored Brigade. Amassing such military power on Russian borders violates the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act, he stressed.
Both NATO and Poland dismissed the Russian ministry’s claims, saying the bloc’s activities are “proportionate and fully consistent with its international commitments," as cited by the Polish PAP news agency.
The Pentagon neither openly confirmed nor denied the reports concerning the numbers involved in the buildup. “We are in those places as a defensive posture and we are very clear about that,” Dana White, a Pentagon spokesperson, said on Friday.
In the meantime, several videos recently posted on YouTube show what are assumed to be US military convoys moving to Poland through Germany. The videos apparently show dozens of US Stryker interim armored vehicles driving through the streets of German towns located in the state of Saxony as well as dozens of Bradley Fighting Vehicles.
NATO and its partners have repeatedly staged drills and amassed forces close to Russian borders, with a perceived “threat” from Moscow often cited as justification.
Russia has stressed that such accusations lack any basis, pointing out that the military buildup by the West is leading to increased tensions. Moscow also, however, said that it is nevertheless open for dialogue with NATO and its partners.
The most recent wave of hysteria in the West was provoked by the joint Russian-Belarusian Zapad-2017 drills held in mid-September.
Notably, the war games were smaller in scale than military drills held in Poland and Sweden around the same time, while the Russian and Belarusian leadership tried their best to make the Zapad drills transparent by inviting some 90 foreign observers from 60 countries.