Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

During a 2015 NATO exercise. (Photo: Gonzalo Alonso/flickr/cc)

Ratcheting Tensions, Obama Orders Huge Weapons Increase Along EU-Russia Border

Just last week, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov referred to NATO's build-up near Russia's borders as "counterproductive and dangerous."

Deirdre Fulton, staff writer

Less than a week after Russia's foreign minister warned that NATO's military build-up near Russia's borders is "counterproductive and dangerous," the United States is ramping up the deployment of heavy weapons and armored vehicles to NATO member countries in Central and Eastern Europe, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

Administration officials told the Times "the additional NATO forces were calculated to send a signal to President Vladimir V. Putin that the West remained deeply suspicious of his motives in the region," referring to Russia's ongoing presence in eastern Ukraine.

According to the paper, "the administration plans to pay for the additional weapons and equipment with a budget request of more than $3.4 billion for military spending in Europe in 2017, several officials said Monday, more than quadrupling the current budget of $789 million. The weapons and equipment will be used by American and NATO forces, ensuring that the alliance can maintain a full armored combat brigade in the region at all times."

The equipment could be deployed in Hungary, Romania, and the Baltic countries, Pentagon officials said.

The Times reports:

The official said the Pentagon wanted a “heel to toe” rotational troop presence in Eastern Europe, meaning that there would always be the equivalent of a brigade in the region. Under a 1997 agreement known as the NATO-Russia Founding Act, both sides pledged not to station large numbers of troops along their respective borders.

Administration officials said they were confident that the new deployments would not be seen as breaching that agreement. In any event, Poland and the Baltic States argue that Russia’s incursion in Ukraine was a clear violation of the act, and that NATO should no longer abide by it.

Nikolay Patrushev, head of the Russian Security Council, highlighted this disconnect in an interview with the Associated Press. "What sort of trust can we talk about?" he asked. "You can see it yourself that NATO is making promises, but it never keeps any of the promises made to our country, it does not take our interests into consideration."

This is merely the most recent example of saber-rattling on the part of the U.S. and NATO against Russia.

Last week, NATO General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance would step up its military exercises in 2016, "noting that Russian operations near the alliance’s borders have increased dramatically," the Wall Street Journal reported at the time.

"We see a more assertive Russia to the east…that has shown a will to change borders in Europe," Stoltenberg said.

Meanwhile, Romania over the weekend announced its desire to station a permanent alliance fleet—including ships from Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Germany, Italy, and the U.S.—in the Black Sea to counter what they see as Russia's rising involvement in the region.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We need your help.

Support progressive journalism.

Common Dreams is not your average news site. We don't survive on clicks or advertising dollars. We rely entirely on your support. And without it, our independent progressive journalism simply wouldn’t exist. Every gift of every amount matters.

Join the fight and support our common dreams today.

Progressive International Convenes Global Summit to Achieve Vaccines for All

The virtual gathering aims to foster "vaccine internationalism" and cooperation to put human lives over corporate greed.

Andrea Germanos, staff writer ·


After Campaigning Against Death Penalty, Biden Admin Seeks Execution of Boston Marathon Bomber

Advocates say the president could eliminate the use of the death penalty by commuting all federal death row sentences.

Julia Conley, staff writer ·


Led by Sanders, Senate Dems Weigh $6 Trillion Infrastructure Bill as Bipartisan Talks Fail on Climate

"The Republican Party has made clear that they are not prepared to stand up for the American people and address the many crises facing working families today. We can get to work without them."

Jake Johnson, staff writer ·


Progressive Warnings Grow as Big Oil-Backed Republicans Endorse Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework

"The Senate GOP members participating in these talks on infrastructure have accepted a career total of $15,896,919 in campaign contributions from oil and gas companies."

Jake Johnson, staff writer ·


Advocates Cheer DOJ Reversal of Trump Policy Denying Asylum to Victims of Violence

"Now it's time to build on this progress," said one migrant rights campaigner. "We're ready to work with the administration to create an asylum system that provides every person a fair opportunity to apply for protection."

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·