Russia will move forces closer to its western border in response to any movement of U.S. heavy weaponry into eastern Europe, while posing no threat to the Baltic states, the head of a military alliance of former Soviet republics said.
Politicians in the U.S. and Europe are using the crisis in Ukraine as a “battering ram” to provoke a confrontation with Russia, Nikolai Bordyuzha, general secretary of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, said in an interview amid tanks and anti-aircraft missiles displayed at the Army-2015 defense exhibition outside Moscow on Tuesday. “This is playing with fire, it’s like smoking at a gas station,” he said.
The Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are making incomprehensible and “absolutely provocative” statements that Russia plans to attack them, Bordyuzha said. “Nobody has ever planned to attack the Baltic countries and they won’t attack,” he said. “We have enough problems of our own. We want to live in peace like other countries.”
Amid the worst tensions since the Cold War between Russia and the U.S. and Europe over the conflict in Ukraine, the Pentagon may announce agreements this month to station tanks and troops in eastern European and Baltic countries to reassure North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies. Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview published last week that “only an insane person and only in a dream can imagine that Russia would suddenly attack NATO” and that some countries are using a fear of Russia to gain defense benefits.
Russia and Belarus, which are responsible for security close to Europe under the CSTO mutual-defense pact, will act to minimize threats from new weapons placed near their borders, Bordyuzha said. Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are members of the CSTO, which was set up in 1995.
“It’s above all a matter of having certain types of missile systems and heavy weapons in place” from the Russian armed forces, Bordyuzha said. It’s premature to say how much weaponry will be placed along the border until the threat has been analyzed, he said.
Leaders of the CSTO states will discuss their response to any increase in weaponry in eastern Europe at its next summit in October in Tajikistan, Bordyuzha said.
Russia’s strategic forces will get 40 new nuclear missiles this year “capable of overcoming even the most technically advanced anti-missile defense systems,” Putin said at the opening of the defense exhibition at Patriot Park near Moscow on Tuesday.