‘US troop buildup in E. Europe symbolic gesture to Russia over Ukraine’
The US is deploying troops to Poland and the Baltic states. Around 700 soldiers, 20 battle tanks and a number of mechanized vehicles will arrive in the coming weeks. This move is a part of Operation Atlantic Resolve which is NATO’s response to what the alliance calls Russia’s “aggression” in Ukraine.
RT:This is one of the largest deployments of US forces in Eastern Europe. What message does America want to send?
Lode Vanoost: First of all, I think this is a message from the President [Barack Obama] to his own backyard, to the more conservative elements in the Congress to say “Look, at least I’m doing something.” It’s also a message to geopolitical allies in Eastern Europe, the ones that are most pro-Western within these countries. And this is of course a message to Russia. Even though it’s quite substantial compared to what was in the past, it’s still a symbolic gesture. Let’s not forget that even with this buildup this is not exactly the force that will so-called protect four countries or stop invasion from whatever.
RT:Both ground troops and tanks are being deployed. Is there a real chance they could see action?
LV: I don’t think so. Whenever you say the things about the future you should always be careful of course, because the risk of something going badly wrong inadvertently is always bigger when you have this kind of deployment. I think this is saber-rattling and showing some muscle, but it’s merely a symbolic gesture towards Russia.
RT:How do you think Russia should respond to this troop build-up?
LV: I think they should keep the same restraint as they did for the last months. They should, first of all, point out that their policy towards Poland and the Baltic states for the last years has never changed, and that whatever happened in Ukraine has nothing to do with the relations they have with these countries. This is just a buildup of forces on the other side to hide that things in Ukraine are not going according to the Western plan.
RT:How will sending American troops to Eastern Europe affect the stand-off between Russia and the West? Will it somehow help to resolve crisis in Ukraine?
LV: This is not going to improve things, certainly not. But for the moment I think the thing is how you are going to react as a country. Let’s not forget that when you say “react[tion] from Russia,” Russia’s territory borders these countries. So whatever they do is moving military forces within its own country, this is not as if the Russians are building up forces in the Gulf of Mexico. So we should put things in prospective…The Western side are the ones who are building up tension, let’s not forget that. But yes, the tension is [increasing] and this is not going to help in anyway.
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