Originally appeared at DWN, translated by Karin exclusively for SouthFront
The permanent stationing of a US armored brigade in Eastern Europe was met in Germany with little understanding: General Breedlove said the measure was necessary to counter the aggressive Russians. The German papers express themselves surprisingly dismissive and write that it would make more sense to use the tanks in the Middle East against the Islamic State.
US General Philip Breedlove, the commander of US forces in Europe said, the US and NATO turn in Eastern Europe “from security to deterrence.” Breedlove announced this doctrine on Thursday in the Latvian capital Riga, in connection with the earlier notice from Wednesday that a tank brigade with 4200 men in Eastern Europe will be permanently stationed in 2017. As a reason the US-General referred to the “reviving and aggressive Russia”.
“We are prepared to fight and win if we have to,” Breedlove said after talks with NATO commanders from the Baltic. “We have witnessed in the last two years, that Russia seeks to expand its influence.” Russia had in 2014 the Black Sea Crimean peninsula annexed and is involved in the conflict in the eastern Ukraine. Since then, the Baltic States and Poland are interested in a stronger military presence of NATO.
The deployment of the armored brigade in Eastern Europe had been announced by the US Department of Defense on Wednesday. The brigade will be dispatched in early 2017 and be rotating successively stationed in various Eastern European countries, it said. Details of where the unit is to be first deployed, the Pentagon did not say.
The presence of the brigade should, according to a Pentagon spokeswoman, help to improve cooperation with the Eastern European NATO partners in the military training and military exercises. Since the outbreak of the Ukraine conflict, NATO has gradually strengthened its presence in the Eastern European NATO countries. Among other things warplanes were sent to the Baltic States and warships stationed in the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea.
The plans for the permanent stationing of an US armored brigade in Eastern Europe brought out strong criticism by the chairman of the German-Russian Forum, Matthias Platzeck (SPD). The troops strengthening on the eastern border of NATO is “the wrong step at the wrong time,” Platzeck told the Rheinische Post.
He understands the security needs of the Eastern European neighbors of Russia, but considers the step in this regard counterproductive, said the former Minister President of Brandenburg. The announcement of counter measures by Alexander Grushko, the Russian ambassador to NATO, shows that with the relocation of the tanks arises less and not more security in Eastern Europe.
In fact, the measure is more an attempt to keep the issue of rearmament in Europe going. The US defense industry is in a highly competitive global environment and is looking for new markets for their products. Breedlove himself will not be very important much longer in the future in Europe: The NATO forces in Europe will get soon a new commander. An announcement of the alliance partners on Friday stated that US General Curtis M. Scaparrotti would take over the duties of his compatriot Philip M. Breedlove in spring. He had been appointed in 2013 to the European top commander of NATO.
The 60-year-old Scaparrotti was previously commander of the US forces and commander of the joint South Korean-US forces. He did not make a career like Breedlove in the Air Force, but in the Army.
Breedlove was lately disputed even within the Allies. For example from Germany he was accused last year, to have exaggerated about the military role of Russia in eastern Ukraine. This was considered a threat to peace efforts. According to diplomats the change of leadership, however, has no political reason, writes the “dpa” who is usually well informed from NATO circles.
The German newspapers have surprisingly unanimous react negatively to the declaration of war on Russia.
The “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung” writes:
“The explanation for the continued deployment of units to Eastern Europe has long been the same: They want to strengthen the back of the local Member States who fear Russian aggression. The approach of NATO is like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because, of course Russia’s response followed right away, Moscow announces a nebulous ‘asymmetrical response’. However this will look like: They will certainly not contribute for general reassurance. What in turn will makes the next NATO step expectable. This very much predictable spiral of threats follows the mechanics of the Cold War and belongs to the dustbin of history”.
The “Straubinger Tagblatt” commented:
“Of course, NATO has the duty and the right to protect its members. But there is no indication that Russia actually poses a real threat to the Alliance. And if that were so – 250 American tanks and 4 500 troops are only of symbolic significance, given the military possibilities of President Vladimir Putin. Moscow can within days bring up to 30000 troops to the border. Instead of returning to allow the old patterns and an armored brigade travelling from one to another NATO country, just not to formally contravening the NATO-Russia Act, more should be done to revive dialogue forums such as the NATO-Russia relations. “
The “People’s Voice” in Magdeburg analyzed:
“Russia has quite different problems than to pounce on the Baltic republics or even Poland. The annexation of the Crimea and the maintenance of the separatist administration in eastern Ukraine are complicated and expensive. An even greater burden for the in a tailspin Russian economy is the military intervention in Syria where the Russians and Americans work together. The Syrian Desert would also be a terrain in which 4200 American tanks in the fight against IS were in better use than in Lithuanian forests.”
The “Freie Presse” from Chemnitz writes:
“In the current global uncertainty, it is therefore inappropriate to rattle with sabers at European borders again. More important than the show of military strength would be at last some diplomatic initiatives that bring Russia back to the negotiating table. For example, the 2014 in the wake of Ukraine crisis suspended NATO-Russia relations could be used to slowly build up new trust. We do not need a new Cold War, but a serious return to foreign policy diplomacy that is non-confrontational, but ways to balance the different interests. The return to an East-West confrontation does not help Russia to tackle the absolutely necessary modernization of the economy, nor does it help the European Union, their companies have currently not much access to the Russian market.”
The “WAZ” considers the action counterproductive:
“The trust between the US and NATO on one side and Russia on the other side is destroyed. A painstakingly developed partnership has given way to a hostile opposition. In some places, this new cold war has also become quite hot: Different, partially contradictory war aims in Syria and regular targeted violations of NATO airspace by Russian fighter pilots pose again the risk of short-term and direct military confrontation. In such a situation of increasing tension is the reaction of the US to relocate a third combat brigade in Europe, legitimate and logical. One side effect may however not to be overlooked: The military upgrade of the USA in Eastern Europe is fuel to the fire of the ruling nationalists there. And as they damage the European Union increasingly from the inside out, which benefits in a certain way – of all things – the Russians.”
From the German federal government is on the subject no statement available. Chancellor Angela Merkel had changed, after the orientation of the NATO doctrine against Russia, the German defense doctrine to the effect that Russia will be in the future regarded as an enemy.