14:53 GMT05 July 2020
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    US General and Commander of United States Army Europe Ben Hodges criticized bureaucratic obstacles that prevent free movement of troops and military equipment between EU countries. His words seem to have attracted followers as after his speech former Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski suggested renaming tanks as “tractors”.

    Hodges expressed his disapproval during a recent debate in Washington organized by the American think tank CEPA (Center for European Policy Analysis), Polish national daily newspaper Rzeczpospolita reported.

    The commander complained that it would take NATO two weeks to receive an official permit to deliver tanks and military equipment from Poland to Lithuania. According to the official, a rapid reaction force that is always in a state of high alert proves not to be rapid enough because of long-lasting bureaucratic procedures and obstacles.

    Hodges also accused Russia of its alleged intention to divide NATO and the European Union, claiming that the best way to avoid further conflict with Russia is its "deterrence".

    To give weight to his words, the general intimidated his listeners with an alleged threat from Russia, referring to the recent military exercises and activities of the latter. For instance, he mentioned that Russia made large military investments in Kaliningrad and is able to "close" the Baltic Sea, by concentrating there a huge number of soldiers and military equipment, including nuclear ones.

    The commander also claimed that, because of its heavy military presence in Crimea, Russia can attack "94% of the surface of the Black Sea" and block access to the sea and the mouth of the Danube to NATO countries, harming their economies.

    Regardless of how controversial the words of the US general might be, they, surprisingly, seem to have attracted followers.

    Commenting on the problems with the transportation of troops, former Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Radosław Sikorski said:

    "We need a Schengen area for American tanks. Maybe we should rename tanks as ‘tractors’? Here in Europe we already have experience with reclassifying vegetables as ‘fruits’ and vice versa," Sikorski stated.


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    NATO, military equipment, threat, Europe, United States, Russia
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