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    Czech soldiers set up security during a military advisory team training exercise at US Army Europe's Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, Dec. 1

    NATO's Efforts to Increase Pressure on Russia to Prove Futile

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    NATO's efforts to increase pressure on Moscow by beefing up its military presence on the country's borders will prove futile, Russian military expert Viktor Litovkin told Sputnik, adding that it is impossible to scare Russia or make it to bend to someone's will.

    NATO is trying to reaffirm its importance in the eyes of Europeans, Russian military expert Viktor Litovkin told Sputnik Czech, commenting on a series of joint military drills held by the bloc's members on Russia's western borders.

    On Sunday a Czech mechanized battalion comprising 112 servicemen and 37 military-vehicles set off for Training Bridge 2017 joint military drills in Lithuania, according to the Seznam news portal.

    Lithuania's Ministry of National Defense reported Monday that "rotational troops of the Czech Armed Forces" was due to arrive in Lithuania, Sestokai, on January, 10. The drills will be carried out until March, 20.

    "Throughout the rotation time the Czech soldiers will be based at the Lithuanian Grand Duke Butigeidis Dragoon Battalion in Klaipeda and train alongside military personnel of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Kestutis Mechanised Infantry Battalion based in Taurage district. Lithuanian and Czech soldiers will train in a range of field training exercises and live firing events," the Ministry's official website reads.

    Within the framework of the Training Bridge 2017 the other Visegrad Group (V4) members, including Poland, Slovakia and Hungary, will also take part in the military exercise.

    The drills, aimed at countering the so-called "Russian threat," will be conducted near the Lithuanian city of Klaipeda, which is located not far from Russia's border region of Kaliningrad.

    According to Litovkin, those who believe that Russia is harboring plans to invade the Baltic region are completely detached from reality. He called attention to the fact that Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia joined NATO back in 2004.

    "Let me repeat the words of [President Vladimir] Putin: the speculation about the threat posed by Russia to, for example, the Baltic states, is utter nonsense. Are we going to fight with NATO?" Litovkin asked rhetorically.

    The Russian military expert underscored that it is quite natural for the Czech Armed Forces to take part in joint military exercises with other regional NATO member states.

    It is no secret that during the Warsaw Summit 2016 the Alliance decided to reinforce its eastern flanks. Thus unsurprisingly, the V4 countries have kicked off military training together with their Baltic neighbors, he remarked.

    What is absolutely unnatural, according to Litovkin, is that the US has dispatched hundreds of heavy tanks, self-propelled howitzers and other military vehicles as well as 3,500 military personnel to Germany in order to deploy this military force in Poland.

    The Independent reported Monday that American troops have begun arriving in Poland under a planned NATO operation to demonstrate the bloc's commitment to its Eastern European allies "in the face of mounting Russian aggression."

    "The troops will be followed by around 2,800 tanks and other pieces of military equipment which are being transported by land from Germany," the media outlet emphasized.

    US troops with Abrams tanks. Poland (File)
    © AFP 2017/ JANEK SKARZYNSKI
    US troops with Abrams tanks. Poland (File)

    To add fuel to the fire, the Alliance is preparing to station up to 4,000 troops near Russian borders in an unprecedented military build-up since the end of the Cold War.

    "This is not creating a favorable climate for the resumption of cooperation between Russia and NATO," the Russian military expert stressed, adding, however, that it is absolutely necessary to resume cooperation within the framework of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC).

    At the same time the military expert expressed hope that following the inauguration of US President-elect Donald Trump the situation may significantly change.

    "Judging by the statements made by the NATO leadership and the Russian Defense Ministry, the thaw in relations [between Russia] and the West can really happen," Litovkin told Sputnik.

    Soldiers take part in the NATO military exercise 'Iron Sword 2016' at a training range in Pabrade, north of the capital Vilnius, Lithuania on Friday, Dec. 2, 2016. The US and NATO have beefed up their presence throughout Eastern Europe significantly over the past two years following the outbreak of the crisis in Ukraine.
    © AP Photo/ Mindaugas Kulbis
    Soldiers take part in the NATO military exercise 'Iron Sword 2016' at a training range in Pabrade, north of the capital Vilnius, Lithuania on Friday, Dec. 2, 2016. The US and NATO have beefed up their presence throughout Eastern Europe significantly over the past two years following the outbreak of the crisis in Ukraine.

    The military expert denounced speculation that Russia is currently beefing up its military presence on its western borders.

    "We are not increasing our [Russian military] presence in the region; instead we are reorganizing our brigades into divisions without changing the number of personnel," he pointed out.

    "Yes, we have deployed our most advanced systems, such as, for example, S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems in the Kaliningrad region. They are able to control the airspace within a radius of 400 km. We also have deployed the anti-ship [coastal defense missile system] 'Bastion', which can fire at a distance of up to 600 kilometers," the military expert admitted.

    He added that the Russian mobile short-range ballistic missile system Iskander has also been deployed on a temporary basis in the region.

    The Russian Iskander SRBM system being prepped for launch during military exercises. File photo.
    © Sputnik/ Alexei Danichev
    The Russian Iskander SRBM system being prepped for launch during military exercises. File photo.

    Russia is seeking to protect its border regions and with good reason. Litovkin drew attention to the fact that the US' European missile defense shield could be equipped with Tomahawk long-range cruise missiles which could deliver their warheads to the distance of up to 2.5 thousand kilometers.

    "Russia won't sit on its hands, while [NATO] is amassing its military force on its border," the military expert emphasized.  

    Still, Litovkin doesn't believe that the ongoing NATO escalation may result in a direct confrontation between the bloc and Russia.

    "Is there anyone who wants to turn the continent into radioactive ashes?" Litovkin asked rhetorically, "There are no such fools in Russia, or Europe, or the United States."

    Does NATO want to scare Russia and force it into making concessions by beefing up its military presence in Eastern Europe?

    "It is impossible to scare Russia or coerce it into submission," Litovkin stressed, "NATO is just trying to reaffirm its necessity for Europeans; however, many in Europe have already called it into doubt."

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    Tags:
    military buildup, military drills, border security, Iskander-M ballistic missile systems, Tomahawk, S-400, Cold War, Visegrad Group (V4) countries, NATO, European Union, Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, Baltic Region, Hungary, Czech Republic, Estonia, Europe, Poland, United States, Russia, Kaliningrad region, Kaliningrad, Lithuania, Latvia
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    • avatar
      Erik Trete
      NATO's last gasp to keep the West's Military Industrial Complex feed. But this will not be sufficient to cover one costly failure after another after another F35/USS Zumwalt/Littoral combat ships.
    • avatar
      tobi.gelando
      I hope Putin is convince about his strategic about nato !!!
      Believing / now what the other aggressor will do has proven in history will come to a disaster !!!
    • avatar
      michael
      if there were to be a confrontation between Russia and nato, I for one would sincerely hope that the first retaliatory strike by the Russian Armed Forces would take out the nato command in belgium. The actions of those cretins who are a part of the nato has the potential to lead to a serious loss of life as well as other collateral damage. Remove the head (despite there being no brain inside).
    • avatar
      jasin reply tomichael(Show commentHide comment)
      michael, I was watching a documentary about Crimea and the Russians had a Bastion coastal security missile unit in Crimea that NATO didn't know about. Putin had it powered up so NATO would know it there. It apparently surprised the USS Cook when it locked on them after the Cook got within Tomahawk range of Crimea.

      It seems like NATO would know by now that it has no clue how Russia will respond. Like you say, Russia's going to find a way to make what they have available hurt as much as possible if they are forced to do it.
    • avatar
      michaelin reply tojas(Show commentHide comment)
      jas, let's hope that it never comes to that. :)
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