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    Russian soldiers watch a transporter-loader place an Iskander-M shorter-range missile onto a self-propelled launcher

    How Russia Could Respond to NATO's Eastern Flank Military Build-Up

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    The Polish press has alleged that Russia plans to deploy its Iskander-M missile systems in the Kaliningrad region on a permanent basis. It is only natural, given Warsaw's decision on the deployment of US Patriot interceptors in Poland, independent Polish political commentator Janusz Niedzwiedzki has told Sputnik.

    Polish political analyst Janusz Niedzwiedzki recalled that even before Warsaw decided to deploy an American missile base in Poland, Russia said that if it takes place, Moscow will respond symmetrically to an increase in the US presence in that part of Europe.

    "In my opinion, all this is about a natural cause and effect. The reason for the increase in [Russia]'s missile power in Kaliningrad is the decision by Warsaw to deploy the US missile systems in Poland," Niedzwiedzki said.

    The Iskander-M missile system during a military machine demonstration at the Alabino training ground. File photo
    © Sputnik/ Grigoriy Sisoev
    The Iskander-M missile system during a military machine demonstration at the Alabino training ground. File photo

    Warsaw has appealed to Polish public opinion and tries to describe Russia's move as something that should incite fear, rather than as a symmetrical response to the decisions previously made by Polish authorities, he noted.

    He said that "the atmosphere of fear is constantly being fueled in Poland amid allegations of Russia's looming aggression against this Eastern European country."

    Two soldiers run toward Patriot antimissile systems. File photo
    © AP Photo/ Michael Sohn
    Two soldiers run toward Patriot antimissile systems. File photo

    "But this deployment of [Iskander] missiles in the Kaliningrad region is just a natural consequence. With Russia's main geopolitical adversary deploying its military hardware near Russian borders, Moscow has no other choice but to build up its defense potential," Niedzwiedzki added.

    When asked about the speculations printed by Poland's Rzeczpospolita newspaper on Russia's "persistent drive" to modernize its army, Niedzwiedzki pointed to the Western media's approach to covering the joint Russia-Belarus Zapad 2017 strategic drills.

    READ MORE: Russia to Continue Deploying Iskander Missiles in Kaliningrad and Other Areas

    He recalled that for two months, the Polish public had been constantly scared by reports that the drills are allegedly only a cover for Russia's military activity which could result in an attack on Poland or — in line with the most optimistic scenario — the occupation of Belarus.

    "However, the Zapad 2017 exercises ended, the Russian army left the territory of Belarus, and those who frightened us with a Russian threat launched a new series of intimidation attacks, " Niedzwiedzki said.

    According to him, similar biased reports are needed to increase "domestic mobilization in the country in the name of fighting a fictitious external enemy."

    READ MORE: White Elephant: Poland Signs Deal to Buy 'Aging' Patriot Missile Systems

    Niedzwiedzki said that regardless of Russia's real actions, "there will always be someone who will allege that something terrible is happening there and that it is aimed against Poland."

    "Unfortunately or luckily, the facts do not confirm this as Russia shows a very restrained approach. Simple logic suggests that the increase in military capabilities and tensions on the 'eastern flank' of NATO and Americans' involvement in the process will prompt Russia to ramp up its defense potential," he said.

    The Polish Ministry of National Defense and the US Department of Defense signed an agreement on the delivery of Patriot missile defense systems to Warsaw in July 2017 during US President Donald Trump's visit to Poland.

    READ MORE: 'The Point of No Return': Why Poland Plans to Spend Billions on Patriot Missiles

    According to the initial deal, the systems should be handed over to Poland by 2022.

    The Patriot is a long-range, all-altitude, air defense system capable of countering tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and advanced aircraft. As for the Iskander-M, it is a mobile ballistic missile system designed to destroy a wide variety of ground targets at a range of up to 500 kilometers (over 300 miles).

    Related:

    Zapad-2017 Drills: Russia Test-Launches Iskander-M Missile
    Why Russia Restricts Sale of Iskander Missile Systems to Its Closest Partners
    Patriots for Poland: Why US SAMs Can't Survive a Russian Iskander Missile Strike
    Poland Buys Patriot Missiles as NATO Ramps Up Military Capacity
    Tags:
    scenario, military hardware, missile systems, power, deployment, aggression, decision, army, attack, Patriot, Iskander-M, NATO, Poland, Russia
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