Russian military exercises ‘logical response’ to NATO troops on its border
Vladimir Putin has ordered the Russian Northern Fleet put on full combat alert as part of large snap military exercises. The announcement came with increased NATO activity near the Russian border.
RT:The media generally reports that these are a response to the NATO exercises. What's your take?
Chris Bambery: I think they are a response to NATO exercises which have taken place at first in the Black Sea and now in the Baltic. Why America has sent 750 military vehicles to the Baltic states including Abrams tanks, I don’t know. Plus 3,000 troops. Germany is sending 600 troops. This is quite an escalation for Russia and it’s on their border we should remember. But I think we also have to say something else. The rhetoric from America and to some extent from London is this idea that Putin is this “new Hitler,” “the aggressor.” The German military intelligence know full well that Vladimir Putin has got no ambition to occupy Ukraine. He’s got no ambition to occupy the Baltic states. He’s not an idiot. He is not going to invade the Baltic states and have a war with NATO. If there was evidence that Putin had sent in armored columns into Ukraine, NATO which has been [monitoring] this and the Americans who have been [monitoring] this very carefully would have flooded the world with those images.
And in fact Germany and France have secured a ceasefire which is relatively successful. So why they are going along with the Americans who clearly have much more aggressive agenda here, I don’t know. This is a question we should ask Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel. But I think the answer to your first question is: sure, if you are going to put troops on the borders of Russia, isn’t it logical; is it hardly a surprise that Russia is going to respond in kind?
RT:NATO says it's boosting its presence in Eastern Europe to counter what it calls Russian aggression. What do you make of that?
CB: Well, where is this Russian aggression? As it’s been the case, it’s well known that there are Russian volunteers fighting in Eastern Ukraine. They are not Russian regular forces operating with heavy weaponry because if they were, as I said, the Americans and NATO would have had those images all over the news media and we haven’t had it. Secondly, there is not an ounce of veracity about the idea that Putin is about to attack Estonia, Lithuania or Latvia. He is not suicidal. He knows if he does this he is going to engage in a war with NATO, the EU and the US. He is not going to do this.
There is a big difference between Ukraine, its bankrupt economy which has failed its own people, and the Baltic states which are relatively okay and a part of the NATO alliance, part of the EU. So Putin is not going to do anything so silly as to threaten the Baltic states. But this is why we are told we have to rush American and NATO troops to the Baltic states because there is a supposed aggression paralleling – we are told –what Hitler did in 1939 with all that rhetoric which is about to be unleashed by Putin. It’s a fantasy world.
RT:The NATO chief says that Russia's snap drills are destabilizing the region. What about NATO's own exercises, are they impacting on the situation?
CB: It’s a very good question. If you have anti-aircraft, anti-submarine exercises in both the Baltic and the Black sea, you might think the Russians will be a bit alarmed. If you have 3,000 American troops, 750 military weapons on you border, you might feel you are a bit alarmed. And clearly the Americans, the British and NATO have gone ahead with this just ignoring the fact that Russia has got every right to be perturbed at this build-up. And of course there is the ongoing story of NATO expansion into Eastern Europe along Russia’s borders despite, as Russia sees it, promises which were made back in 1991 that this would not happen when the [Iron curtain] came down. So the Russians are looking at this and have the right to be paranoid about this given what’s happened to them.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.