Moscow ac­cuses US of ‘qui­etly’ adding troops in E. Europe

Mil­i­tary al­liance says it abides by NATO-Rus­sia deal

Arab News - - INTERNATIONAL -

MOSCOW: Rus­sia’s De­fense Min­istry on Thurs­day ac­cused the US of adding troops in Poland in vi­o­la­tion of an agree­ment between Moscow and NATO, a charge the mil­i­tary al­liance de­nied.

A set of US troops were sent to re­place an­other group of sol­diers in Poland but the orig­i­nal squadron never left, Moscow said in a state­ment, which ac­cused the East­ern Euro­pean na­tions of “hys­te­ria.”

The ac­cu­sa­tions came as ten­sions between Rus­sia and NATO have soared to their high­est since the Cold War.

The US Third Squadron and Sec­ond Squadron were due to ro­tate as joint Rus­sian-Be­laru­sian war games named Za­pad 2017 (West 2017) were tak­ing place last month, De­fense Min­istry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

“The Sec­ond Squadron ar­rived in Poland qui­etly with its mil­i­tary equip­ment. And, dur­ing this time, the mil­i­tary equip­ment of the Third Squadron did not leave Poland and the Baltics,” he said in the state­ment.

The pres­ence of both squadrons vi­o­lated the 1997 NATO-Rus­sia Found­ing Act, Konashenkov added.

He said the Za­pad mil­i­tary ex­er­cises were “ac­com­pa­nied by un­prece­dented hys­te­ria in Euro­pean me­dia,” sin­gling out newer east­ern EU mem­bers for ac­cu­sa­tions of “Rus­so­pho­bia.”

“This whole Baltic and Pol­ish hys­te­ria about a ‘Rus­sian threat’ posed by Za­pad 2017 is a fraud­u­lently played in­for­ma­tion smoke­screen part of the Pen­tagon’s op­er­a­tion,” he said.

“So who is, in fact, pre­par­ing for ag­gres­sion?” Konashenkov asked.

NATO’s deputy spokesman Piers Caza­let dis­missed the ac­cu­sa­tions, say­ing that “NATO fully abides by the NATO-Rus­sia Found­ing Act.”

“Any ac­cu­sa­tion that NATO is vi­o­lat­ing the act or break­ing its prom­ises, is un­true,” Caza­let said in a state­ment.

He said NATO’s de­ploy­ment of 4,000 troops to East­ern Europe fol­low­ing Rus­sia’s 2014 an­nex­a­tion of Crimea and “ad­di­tional bi­lat­eral de­ploy­ments by the United States are well be­low any rea­son­able def­i­ni­tion of ‘sub­stan­tial com­bat forces’ men­tioned in the NATO-Rus­sia Found­ing Act.”

Rus­sia ac­cuses the US of troops spread in the east­ern Europe. (AFP)

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