Outgoing President Barack Obama, who told then presidential candidate Mitt Romney in a 2012 debate that the cold war has been over for 20 years, has deployed US special forces troops along Lithuania’s border with “aggressive” Russia.
Now in 2017, tensions between Washington and the Kremlin have reached Cold War levels amid reports Vladimir Putin is deploying nuke-ready missiles in the Russian province of Kaliningrad. Russia’s actions following annexation of Crimea in 2014 and pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine, and recent confirmation of Russia’s military activity in Kaliningrad is terrifying the region, according to Lithuania’s foreign minister Linas Linkevicius.
Kalingrad borders Poland, Belarus and Lithuania, but has no land connection with Russia. Asta Galdikaite, spokeswoman for the Lithuanian Defence Ministry, confirmed the United States has offered additional military support following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. “The United States was the first to offer additional safety assurance measures to the Baltic countries following the deterioration of the security situation in the region after the annexation of the Crimea,” according to Galdikaite.
She added, “US Special Operations Forces presence in Lithuania is one of the deterrents” against military threats by Putin’s aggressive regime, according to the UK publication Express.
The US and its NATO allies will send battalions of up to 1,200 to each of the three Baltic states – Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – and Poland by spring this year, according to the New York Times.
Iskander missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads have been deployed in Kaliningrad. There are S-400 missiles and modernized jets in the area.
Militarisation of Kaliningrad: Russia pouring troops and weapons into strategic Kaliningrad (Ukraine Today/July 2015).
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Militarization of Kaliningrad: Russia pouring troops and weapons into strategic Kaliningrad (Ukraine Today/July 2015).