Thousands of US troops have been deployed to Poland as part of a massive military buildup on NATO's eastern flank. Moscow has criticized the move, saying it signals a threat to its sovereignty. However, NATO countries say the planned deployments are purely defensive. Press TV has spoken to Brian Becker, member of the ANSWER Coalition, as well as Brent Budowsky, columnist with The Hill, to discuss this issue.
Brian Becker sees the US troop deployment to Poland as a very “provocative” move, adding that Washington and NATO have been “relentlessly” pushing eastward toward Russia’s border since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
“25 years ago when the Soviet Union collapsed, there was an agreement - ratified again in 1996 - that the United States would not take advantage of the end of the Soviet Union by expanding NATO into Eastern and Central European states that had been Russia’s principal allies. And in fact, it has done just that. It has pushed relentlessly,” he said.
He also opined that Russia has no intention of invading the Baltic States, but that it perceives the United States’ continuation of setting up missile shields in those countries as an attempt to gain “military superiority.”
The analyst went on to say that the United States initially positioned the missile shield systems in Poland and Romania under the pretext of stopping Iran’s nuclear threat which never really existed.
Therefore, he argued, now that the United States and the P5+1 countries have signed the nuclear agreement with Iran, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Washington must remove those missile shields.
He further stated if the United States has no intention to start a war, there is no reason for it to carry out military exercises with NATO on Russia’s doorstep.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Becker noted that NATO troop deployment to Eastern Europe is like a “gravy train” that will connect the commercial interests in the region to the US military-industrial complex.
He also asserted that it is not the people of Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia who have called for NATO troops to come in and save them from the “Russian menace,” rather the right-wing governments of those countries.
The analyst explained that Washington’s relations with Moscow have soured since the events in Libya, Syria and Ukraine which is the reason why the United States has deployed troops to Poland, adding that President Vladimir Putin is not planning to invade other countries.
He also predicted that US President-elect Donald Trump will not be able to follow through on his promise to normalize ties with Russia, because the “real dominant forces” in Washington do not have some sort of deep collaboration with Moscow.
According to the analyst, the Pentagon is only seeking to expand its financial sources and is doing a very good job of creating an endless enemy in order to have the incentive and rationale for taking a bigger part of the national treasury.
Meanwhile, the other panelist on the program, Brent Budowsky argued in favor of the US deployment to Poland, alleging the move was “defensive” and “deterrent” in nature.
“What is happening right now is that there is a great [deal of] concern in Eastern Europe, the Baltic states - that used to be under Soviet domination during the Cold War - about Russia’s activities that they believe are threatening. That is what we are doing. It is not expanding NATO. We are providing a defensive force,” he stated.
He also argued that if Moscow is sincerely seeking to reduce tensions, it should work towards reaching an agreement whereby it would pull back its forces from the border on its side, and in return, the United States and NATO would withdraw their troops and ammunition from Russia’s border.
Unless the Russians pull back, he noted, the United States will continue to support the Baltic states disregarding who becomes the president.
The analyst emphasized that positioning military equipment in Eastern and Central Europe is not to start a war, but to prevent one, adding that US troops are there at the request of those countries to support them in case Russia makes a provocative move.
“This is the territory of the countries of the Baltics and Eastern Europe. It is their country, and they want NATO in to defend them. What Poland wants, what the other countries want in that area is not to return to the old Soviet days, not to return to being undermined or dominated by Russia,” he said in conclusion.