​Why is US building up arms in Eastern Europe?

Ambassador's view
Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko
US paratroopers participate in training exercises at the Land Forces Training Centre in Oleszno near Drawsko Pomorskie, north west Poland, May 1, 2014  (Reuters / Kacper Pempel)
US media have recently reported on the White House’s plans to stockpile arms in NATO’s Eastern European countries for the purpose of rotational training.

Possible destinations for the deployment of up to 1,200 units of military equipment include Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and possibly Hungary. This “pre-positioned” weaponry would be enough to equip a brigade of 3,000 to 5,000 military personnel. These plans are expected to be coordinated in time for approval at the upcoming NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels in late June.

The United States is obviously negotiating with its allies to erode the fundamental provision of the Russia-NATO Founding Act of 1997, under which the alliance pledged to avoid “additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces” in the above countries. The pre-positioning of weapons is equivalent to permanent stationing, and the rotation of military personnel is but a detail. Russia has taken note of the arguments used by Washington, which says that these measures are necessary to reassure its European allies in the face of an alleged Russian threat.

In fact, Washington and its European allies know that the perceived Russian threat is nothing more than a myth used to relieve the United States of responsibility for the anti-constitutional coup in Ukraine, and activities of certain forces in Kiev that refuse to end the fratricidal war in Donbass. This comes at a time when the living conditions for the population of this region are deteriorating into a humanitarian crisis: the water supply has been shut off and the delivery of provisions, medicine and essential goods has been blocked by the Ukrainian authorities in Kiev. And all this is taking place against a backdrop of shelling of residential buildings, schools, nurseries and other civilian facilities.

The United States is also fueling tensions and nurturing its European allies’ anti-Russian phobia because it plans to use the current conflict to expand its military presence and, hence, strengthen its influence in Europe. There is a growing risk that the US’s military strategy on NATO’s “eastern flank” will take on a life of its own, disregarding realities and Europe’s political interests, and gather momentum that will be difficult to reverse. However, we hope that common sense will prevail, and that the situation in Europe will be prevented from sliding into a new military confrontation with devastating consequences.

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