Russia slams growing US military buildup in Eastern Europe as ‘destructive’
Russia has slammed the increasing military buildup by the United States in Eastern Europe and near Russian borders as "destructive" and said it will diminish the likelihood of finding a political solution to the current standoff over Ukraine.
US President Joe Biden on Wednesday ordered that 1,700 troops be deployed to Poland and some 300 soldiers to Germany. He also ordered a 1,000-strong armored unit to be deployed from Germany to Romania. The US had already placed 8,500 troops on heightened alert to prepare for deployment in Eastern Europe and bolster NATO's presence in the region.
The fresh deployments to Eastern Europe, according to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, aim to boost the deterrent posture on NATO's eastern flank.
Later in the day, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko responded by slamming the new deployments as a "destructive step" that made it harder for a compromise between Russia and NATO over Ukraine.
Biden will "increase military tension and reduce scope for political decision," and will "delight" Ukrainian authorities, who will continue sabotaging the Minsk agreement "with impunity," Grushko said, referring to the Minsk agreements of 2014 and 2015 that were designed to reach a political settlement in the east of Ukraine, including greater autonomy for the region.
Russia and NATO have recently been at odds over Ukraine. Western countries accuse Russia of preparing for an invasion of Ukraine by amassing 100,000 troops and armaments near the border with that country. Rejecting the allegation, Moscow says the troop build-up is defensive as NATO has increased its activity near Russian borders.
In December last year, the Russian government asked the US-led Western military alliance to deny Ukrainian membership and roll back its military deployments near Russia, demanding legally binding guarantees. The US and NATO both offered written responses to the Russian requests, and Moscow later said its key demands had been ignored.
Russia has repeatedly reiterated that the expansion of the NATO military infrastructure in Ukraine constitutes a red line for Moscow and that any future expansion must exclude Ukraine and other former Soviet countries.
Relations between Ukraine and Russia have been deteriorating since 2014, when the then-Ukrainian territory of Crimea voted in a referendum to fall under Russian sovereignty. Ukraine, as well as the EU and the US, also claims that Russia has a hand in an ongoing conflict that erupted in the Donbass region of Ukraine between government forces and ethnic Russians in 2014. Moscow denies the allegation.