According to the Russian State run Tass media, the Chairman of the Russian defense committee in the Duma, Vladimir Shamanov, issued an accusation that the United States was violating the NATO Peace Treaty by deploying the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Poland. He vowed that Russia would retaliate – even to increasing the number of Iskander missiles in the region, and deploying more military and equipment.
“This creates prerequisites that may eventually enable them to create a certain stronghold. We will surely not turn a blind eye on this. We will take retaliatory measures…Not just personnel, but combat equipment. For instance, the group of Iskanders, including that in Kaliningrad, may be increased.” Vladimir Shamanov
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said it was the U.S. “preparing for the aggression” by stationing the 2nd Cavalry Regiment across Russia’s border without removing the military equipment of U.S. forces previously posted there, a move he said violated the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act. The agreement was designed to end decades of Cold War animosity between the two sides and states that “NATO and Russia do not consider each other as adversaries.”
Russia-US relations tanked under President Obama, and for a brief moment they appeared to be mending under President Trump. But they have once again fallen into serious disrepair as Putin continues his plans. The games on the diplomatic chess board such as kicking out each other’s diplomats and seizing each other’s properties seems to have dragged us all back to the Cold War era.
The New Cold War
“Putin has also increased the intensity and tempo of military deployments in the Baltic region, heightening Russia’s military posture and signaling his intention to continue challenging the U.S. and its NATO allies in Europe. Moscow announced on November 21, 2016 that it would permanently deploy Iskander-M tactical ballistic missiles to the European enclave of Kaliningrad along with additional S-400 anti-air missile systems. Russian forces in Kaliningrad will also receive the Bastion-P anti-ship missile system, which was recently shown to have land attack capabilities. These deployments follow the June 2016 overhaul of the Baltic Sea Fleet leadership, as well as efforts to provide the fleet with advanced surface vessels.
Putin is using the symbolic value of these deployments to achieve much larger strategic gains than the marginal increases in tactical capability most of them constitute. The permanent deployment of the Iskander system, which can launch missiles carrying either a conventional or nuclear payload, demonstrates Russia’s ability to conduct a tactical or operational nuclear strike in Europe without using its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) or submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and without requiring manned bombers to penetrate NATO air defenses. The renewed armament of the Baltic Sea Fleet similarly signal Russia’s intention to intimidate the Baltic States and Poland even as NATO reinforces them with multinational battalions. Putin hopes to intimidate or coerce the U.S. into ceding influence in Eastern Europe, allowing him to expand Russian military and political influence.” Institute for the Study of War (ISW)
The latest dust up began after the United States military deployed the 2nd Calvary Regiment earlier this year to about 100 miles from the Russian border in order to bolster NATO forces against possible Russian aggression. The most recent deployment of the 2nd Cav came after the massive Russian Military exercise called “Zapad 2017,” which occurred September 14-20 in the yellowish shaded area below.
The Russian war game pitted Russian and Belarus troops against a fictional country called “Veyshnoria.” But most Western analysts didn’t believe Russia’s figures on how many troops were scheduled to participate and even stated they were “outright lying.” The last ZAPAD war game was held in 2013, just prior to the Russian annexation of Crimea – which is just one of the myriad of reasons why NATO countries were worried.
Russia, of course, said NATO was responding to “hysteria.” But the 3 Squadron 2nd Cavalry Regiment’s Task Force Wolfpack crossed the German/Polish Border on October 12, 2017 to become part of Battle Group Poland’s Forward Presence initiative as they replaced the 2nd Squadron 2 Cavalry Regiment.
And they definitely did not look hysterical.
Featured photo: US Army- 3rd Squadron 2nd Cavalry Regiment Stryker vehicle rolls into Poland.