There’s a lot of posturing going on near the border of Russia with Poland, Belarus and Lithuania:
Lithuania’s foreign minister Linas Linkevicius confirmed Russia’s military activity in Kaliningrad is terrifying the region.
He said: “Iskander missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads have been deployed. There are S-400 missiles and modernised jets.”
Lithuanian Defence Ministry spokeswoman Asta Galdikaite confirmed America has offered additional military support following Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
She said: “The United States was the first to offer additional safety assurance measures to the Baltic countries following the deterioration of the security situation in the region after the annexation of the Crimea.”
She added: “US Special Operations Forces presence in Lithuania is one of the deterrents” against military threats by Putin’s aggressive regime, reports the Express.
One is tempted to remember the exchange between Mitt Romney and Obama over Russia during the second debate of the 2012 campaign. But that’s old news. Now Trump will have to deal with this.
Speaking of old news, please recall that one of Obama’s first moves on becoming president was to scrap the Bush-planned missile defense system for eastern Europe and replace it with a different and NATO-based system. In 2016, that new system was finally put in place last May:
The U.S. and NATO have continually stressed that the system is intended to defend Europe from Iran and its expanding arsenal. Tehran has continued to test-fire ballistic missiles following the internationally negotiated deal to limit its nuclear program.
But Russia has dismissed the justification.
“From the very outset we kept saying that in the opinion of our experts the deployment of an anti-missile defense poses a threat to Russia,” Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to the Tass News Agency. “The question is not whether measures will be taken or not; measures are being taken to maintain Russia’s security at the necessary level.”
The Bush administration proposed the European-based system to counter the perceived threat of Iran’s developing a nuclear weapon that could be placed atop its increasingly sophisticated missiles…The Bush plan infuriated the Kremlin, which argued the system was a potential threat to its own intercontinental ballistic missiles…The Obama administration’s assessment concludes that U.S. allies in Europe, including NATO members, face a more immediate threat from Iran’s short- and medium-range missiles and is ordering a shift toward the development of regional missile defenses for the Continent, according to people familiar with the matter…
Russia on Thursday welcomed the news [of the Obama changes] but said it saw no reason to offer concessions in return. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called the plan a “responsible move.” He threatened last year to station tactical Iskander missiles on Poland’s border if the U.S. system was deployed.
“We appreciate this responsible move by the U.S. president toward realizing our agreement,” Mr. Medvedev said Thursday. “I am prepared to continue the dialogue.”
So let’s recap on the situation as presented by that history: the Bush plan was scrapped by Obama as a concession to the Russians (apparently in hopes of Russian cooperation on Iran). Russia didn’t do much to thank Obama, and when the new system was finally in place—almost six years later—this is Russia’s response. It’s a challenge to both outgoing president Obama and incoming president Trump, as well as to eastern Europe.