The latest component of Barack Obama's initiative, known as the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA), came online in Romania on Thursday. On Friday, construction will begin at a site in Poland. Once it is finished, the EPAA would become fully operational.
NATO officials have long claimed that the EPAA does not pose a threat to Moscow, but officials, politicians and analysts from Russia and elsewhere remain unconvinced. Political analyst Georgy Fyodorov maintained that this is NATO's strategy aimed at "putting Russia off its guard."
"Of course they will say that all [the bloc's] tanks in Estonia and Latvia, as well as war-games are not meant to counter us, but instead serve to protect [the alliance] against Daesh or some other terrorist group," he told Radio Sputnik. "But we should have no illusions. All military and deterrent actions performed close to our borders are carried out primarily against us."
Sergey Ermakov of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies shared this concern, pointing to NATO's military buildup in Eastern Europe. The bloc's missile defense system, nuclear weapons and conventional forces are all "targeted against our country," he told Sputnik. "This is crystal clear."
Components of NATO's missile defense system in Romania and Poland "are a worrying sign," Ermakov said, adding that they "pose a threat to [Russia's] security."
Defense analyst Igor Korotchenko shared this sentiment.
"Washington's missile defense system is directed against Russia. Its main goal is to offset our nuclear capabilities" he told the Vzglyad business newspaper. "The United States will invest into sea-based missile defense systems in the Baltic and the Black Seas. Then Washington will be able to blackmail Moscow."