A Russian defense official says the United States is planning to deploy some 400 anti-ballistic missiles on Russia’s doorstep as part of its military buildup in Eastern Europe.
“A large-scale effort is ongoing to encircle Russia with an anti-missile shield. Anti-missile defense sites have been already seat up on US soil in California and Alaska,” Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin told state-run Russia 24 TV channel on Friday.
“Overall, some 400 anti-ballistic missiles will be deployed, significantly diminishing the potential of Russia’s nuclear deterrent,” Fomin said, adding that “anti-missile defense sites in Japan and South Korea will join this circle.”
Washington has in fact long been enhancing its anti-missile shield into Europe.
Last year, the US for the first time deployed Patriot long-range anti-aircraft missiles to the Baltics to be used in large-scale NATO military drills in Lithuania near Russia’s border.
Back in July, US Vice President Mike Pence indicated that the US was considering deploying Patriot systems to the Baltic state of Estonia.
Poland has recently secured a $10.5-billion arms deal with Washington to purchase 208 Patriot Advanced Capabilty-3 (PAC-3) missiles in addition to 16 launchers and four radars.
Commenting on the mobility of US troops, Fomin said that they had been practicing deployment overseas and had already created “a logistical reserve sufficient for a very rapid deployment of an additional grouping of up to 300,000 troops.”
The United States has deployed contingents of troops since Crimea’s reunification with Russia following a referendum in March 2014. The US deployments have been supplemented by four NATO battle groups of more than 1,000 soldiers.
Around 3,500 US troops arrived in Poland in January 2017, one of the largest deployments of US forces in Europe since the end of the Cold War in 1991.
Western countries have moved to step up their military presence in Eastern Europe to deter what they call Russian “aggression.”
Russia is wary of NATO’s military build-up near its borders. In response, Moscow has beefed up Russia’s southwestern military capacity, deploying nuclear-capable missiles to its Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad bordering Poland and Lithuania.
Delivering his annual state of the nation speech in Moscow on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow had tested a number of new advanced strategic weapons, which could not be intercepted, saying they would render NATO’s US-led missile systems “useless.”
They include a nuclear-powered cruise missile, a nuclear-powered underwater drone and a hypersonic Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that have no equivalents elsewhere in the world, Putin said.
The Sarmat system is capable of carrying a wide range of nuclear weapons and has virtually no range limit, able to strike across both the South and North Poles, according to Putin.