09:48 GMT +325 July 2017
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    U.S. soldiers stands next to a Patriot surface-to-air missile battery. (File)

    Missile Palisade on Russian Borders: US Umbrella Will Cost a Rocket for E Europe

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    The Czech Republic, Lithuania and Romania are hosting the US-led Tobruq Legacy 2017 military drills. Ahead of the exercises, the US deployed its Patriot missile system to Lithuania. Russian military analyst Andrei Koshkin explained that the US is putting a missile palisade on Russia's borders and forcing the countries to pay for it.

    Three Eastern European countries are hosting Tobruq Legacy 17 (TOLY 17), a military exercise which is being led this year by the US Air Defense Artillery Branch, according to the website of NATO Allied Air Command in Ramstein, Germany.

    "The exercise, which continues until July 22, serves not only as a validation of newly-obtained capabilities, but provides an opportunity to improve the level of interoperability of multinational Surface-Based Air and Missile Defense systems forces," the website says.
    Initially a trilateral exercise with Surface-Based Air-Defense (SBAD) forces from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and the United States, TOLY developed in just four years to the largest SBAD exercise in NATO.

    The size of the participating force has quickly grown to include 2,200 personnel and more than 800 vehicles from 13 nations. For the second time, NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) at Uedem, Germany, will be involved. Its role is to introduce and implement NATO standards, doctrines and tactics to take the exercise to the next level, the statement says.

    Ahead of the exercises, the US has deployed the Patriot long-range missile system in Lithuania for the first time, according to the Lithuanian Ministry of National Defense.

    The Patriot has been deployed alongside air defense systems used by other NATO allies. Up to 500 soldiers and 30 air defense systems from Lithuania, the UK, the US, Latvia, and Poland are involved in the drills.

    Commenting on the deployment of yet another US missile defense system on Russia's borders, Andrei Koshkin, a military analyst and head of the Sociology and Political Science Department at the Russian Plekhanov Economic University, told Sputnik Radio that it will be left in the country upon completion of the drills.

    "The US wants to deploy these systems in the Baltic States, Poland and Romania. So, everything is going on according to their schedule. These exercises are part of the plan on the deployment of these missile defense complexes. As the result, it will be a so-called missile palisade on Russia's borders. The effort is part of the serious modernization of NATO's infrastructure, which is moving closer to Russia," he told Sputnik.

    The military analyst noted that Europe is ready for this modernization, but wants Washington to foot the bill. Sweden also said that it is ready to deploy these systems on its territory, he said.

    However, the US is not ready to deploy its missiles free of charge.

    "Donald Trump has made it clear that these countries should buy these [missile] systems, and the US will secure its high-class operations. I am sure that the US will pressure all the bordering countries to deploy these systems to be able to build a missile palisade that doesn't have any gaps; and notably, at the expense of those countries. It has no intention of donating [them]," Andrei Koshikin concluded.

    Tags:
    military drills, Patriot missile system, NATO, Andrei Koshkin, Czech Republic, Europe, Romania, Lithuania
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