The Russian military dismissed Western concerns over a major war game that has underscored Cold War-style tensions in the Baltic Sea region, as the U.S. further beefed up its presence there.
Russian Deputy Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Alexander Fomin said Tuesday the joint-Russian-Belarusian exercises, which will take place in September partly on Belarus’s border with NATO members Lithuania and Poland, would be of “a purely defensive nature,” testing the ability of troops to respond to a hypothetical adversary.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization officials have warned the maneuvers, planned amid a military buildup in the region by the alliance and Russia, could serve as a screen for Russia to deploy more military equipment and heighten the risk of an accident or miscalculation that could touch off a crisis.
The U.S. has deployed a tank brigade to Central and Eastern Europe, part of a larger deterrent force covering NATO’s eastern flank. On Tuesday, it sent seven F-15C Eagle fighter planes from a base in the U.K. to Lithuania to take over NATO’s Baltic air policing mission from Poland, a larger-than-normal deployment of aircraft. (Read more from “Russia Says War Games Are ‘Purely Defensive'” HERE)