18:26 GMT +315 November 2019
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    American Abrams Tanks in Eastern Europe Obama's Way to Say Good-Bye

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    Barack Obama has taken every effort to complicate the US-Russian relationship on the eve of his departure: the outgoing US President has extended anti-Russian sanctions, dispatched US troops and heavy tanks to Eastern Europe and kicked off NATO maneuvers near Russia's borders, Italian military journalist Mirko Molteni told Sputnik.

    It appears that outgoing US President Barack Obama has decided to mark his departure with more anti-Russian sanctions, tanks in Europe and NATO maneuvers.

    According to Italian military journalist Mirko Molteni, in recent weeks Obama has almost outdone himself in trying to contaminate US President-elect Donald Trump's relations with Russia.

    "In recent weeks we have witnessed the [Obama] administration taking every effort to further complicate US-Russian relations, making them difficult for Trump to fix. The latest example is the deployment of about four thousand soldiers and 87 M1 Abrams heavy tanks in Poland. It is no coincidence that the soldiers were sent to Poland, as Russia's exclave, Kaliningrad, which borders Poland and Lithuania, is located nearby, almost inside the NATO perimeter," Molteni told Sputnik Italia.  

    The journalist underscored that tensions continue to simmer over Washington building its missile defense base in the Polish village of Redzikowo. The base is due to become operational in 2018.

    Redzikowo will become yet another American missile defense installation in Eastern Europe following the inauguration of the US Aegis Ashore system in Romania in May, 2016.

    Back in May, Italian military analyst Manlio Dinucci warned in his op-ed for Il Manifesto that while the Aegis Ashore system is routinely called a "missile shield" it actually has an offensive function as well.

    "No one really knows what kind of missiles are actually deployed in the vertical launchers at the Deveselu base," Dinucci stressed, adding that Moscow cannot even be certain that the missiles aren't nuclear-armed.

    According to Molteni, these NATO maneuvers are part of a broader plan aimed at exerting pressure on Russia's Kaliningrad military base and Russia in general. He also called attention to NATO's Operation Atlantic Resolve, which kicked off in Eastern Europe over alleged Russian interference in the Ukrainian crisis.

    March 15, 2015. Operation Atlantic Resolve is a U.S. Army Europe-led land force assurance training mission taking place across Estonia
    © Flickr / Program Executive Office Soldier
    March 15, 2015. Operation Atlantic Resolve is a U.S. Army Europe-led land force assurance training mission taking place across Estonia

    "Now Trump will have to negotiate phasing these programs out with his own military and intelligence establishment, if he wants to improve relations with Russia," the Italian journalist underscored.

    However, it will be no easy task for the Trump administration to change the established direction of US foreign policy, given strong anti-Russian sentiment among the US intelligence community, within the Pentagon and in Congress, Molteni pointed out.

    The Democrats strongly oppose the idea of a Russo-American détente, and many Republicans are also against the potential thaw between Moscow and Washington, the journalist said, pointing to US Senator John McCain as a prime example.

    Indeed, during his recent interview with MSNBC, McCain strongly rejected the idea that the Trump administration could team up with Russia to fight Daesh (ISIS/ISIL). According to the politician, the two countries' interests do not overlap: All that Moscow wants is to "restore the Russian Empire," McCain claimed.  

    Molteni noted that Trump is well aware of this antagonism.

    "Trump knows it. He has recently reiterated that he wants to lift the sanctions; however, keeping in mind that he cannot do it right away, he added that sanctions [against Russia] will be in place at least for a period of time," he told Sputnik.

    The Italian journalist believes that by working in tandem, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his American counterpart Trump would be able to ease tensions simmering between Washington and Beijing over the South China Sea.

    "Putin and the Russian government could step in as a mediator between Washington and Beijing, due to the fact that Russia and China are currently maintaining economic and military cooperation," he suggested.

    Assessing the results of Obama's presidency, Molteni opined that "it was a disaster in many respects."

    "Obama's [presidency] has become a disaster in many respects and not only for [the US'] relations with Russia: he was almost uninterested in Middle Eastern affairs with the exception of the early years of the Syrian crisis, when Obama wanted to dispatch bombers to Damascus to overthrow [Bashar] al-Assad," Molteni noted, adding that it was Russian President Putin who stepped in and prevented the catastrophe by convincing Assad to destroy his chemical weapons.

    According to the military journalist, the US nuclear agreement with Iran, struck in 2015, is definitely a point in Obama's favor. However, given Trump's skeptical attitude toward the deal, it is also now hanging in the balance.  


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    anti-Russian sentiment, anti-Russian sanctions, Aegis Ashore BMD complex, Operation Atlantic Resolve, NATO, Daesh, US Congress, Pentagon, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Donald Trump, John McCain, South China Sea, China, Poland, United States, Russia, Eastern Europe, Romania, Lithuania
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