NATO simply does not have enough forces and facilities. The leader of the alliance - the United States – has too many military and political commitments in the various regions of the world and too little "bootsontheground". The Russian response to the NATO deployment in Eastern Europe with four infantry battalions on a rotating basis looks like an overreaction.
The danger of a direct military confrontation between Russia and the US-NATO intensifies with each passing day. Moving from a defensive to offensive deterrence, the parties have reached a new, rather dangerous level of "relations." NATO "North-East" operational headquarters moves to Poland and "South-East" to Romania, approaching the military infrastructure to Russia's borders. Russia, for its part, forms a tank army, three new divisions on the Western theater.
NATO is preparing for the next summit in Warsaw (July 8-9), which is already called the "turning point", because it should decide to increase the military presence on the eastern flank of the alliance. Vladimir Batyuk, Head of the Political and Military Research Center, Institute for the US and Canadian Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, discussed in interview with www.valdaiclub.com
, whether Russia is exaggerating a real threat from NATO, and is the US really ready to begin a war to protect the Pax Americana.
"Indeed, the Russian response to the NATO deployment in Eastern Europe with four infantry battalions on a rotating basis looks like an overreaction. By taking such measures as the formation of a tank army, deployment of divisions and brigades, Moscow seems to proceed from the "mental image" of the North Atlantic Alliance, which was formed during the Cold War. Then NATO was far more cohesive and effective organization ", - Batyuk said.
According to him, at that time NATO member states really were ready to mobilize all its forces to repel the Russian attack against Western Europe. "Now the situation is different. Land corridor between Belarus and the Kaliningrad exclave is not the same as the famous Fulda Gap, whose loss meant the defeat of the West in the possible Third world war ", - the expert said.
"Moreover, NATO simply does not have enough forces and facilities. The leader of the alliance - the United States – has too many military and political commitments in the various regions of the world and too little "bootsontheground". Of the 480,000 US Army troops Washington may send to the fight only 160 thousand soldiers, in the best case, and without US support the European allies are simply combat-ineffective", Vladimir Batyuk said.
He also noted that in the list of the US foreign policy priorities Eastern Europe "is somewhere at the bottom," so the Russian General Staff should be more realistic in assessment of the military threat from the United States and NATO.
It is also known that the concentration of forces on the border with Russia needs a lot of financial allocations. Currently, the United States provide 75% of the NATO budget. And it is not the fact that Washington is able to convince the European allies to increase their military budgets. "The numbers speak for themselves. According to 2015 data, only Poland and Estonia increased their defense spending to levels that exceed 2% of GDP, which corresponds to the decisions of the NATO summit in Wales in September 2014. And it happened at the height of the Ukraine crisis. Now, to achieve this goal would be even more difficult, "- Batyuk said.
On the other hand, it is worth remembering that in May in Romania the Aegis Ashore missile complex was officially launched. A similar facility is planned to be launched in Poland in 2018, near the Russian border. Moscow considers the missile defense system in Romania as part of the US nuclear potential, and how it will respond to these actions is unknown. "Russia has a wide range of response capabilities against deployment of missile defense systems near the Russian border - Iskander and Calibre missiles, Tu-22M, Su-24, Su-34 aircraft and others. One can only speculate what option the General Staff would choose, but in any case it has a lot of options, "- the expert said.
Batyuk believes that even after the new US administration coming to power real chances to achieve Russian-American agreements on the missile defense issue are minimal. "The development of missile defense is a two-party politics, and differences in the approaches between the two major US political parties on the ABM problem relate only to the nuances. The American establishment does not consider Russia as a serious partner in this area", - he said.
However, according to Vladimir Batyuk, despite the mutual distrust, Russia and the US have tools for easing tensions in bilateral relations. Here could be a return to some kind of Confidence Building Measures (CBM) negotiations, which occurred in 1980s-90s. "Restoration of normal dialogue between Russia and the West on a number of military and political issues, including confidence-building measures, would affect the situation in the world in the most positive way. Only such a dialogue can lead to real positive results, "- Batyuk said.
The question is, who would be the first to recognize that the situation is getting out of control and will call the other side to the negotiating table.