President Vladimir Putin told reporters Tuesday that his government would be compelled to direct its military forces at any country engaged in a military buildup against Russia. He was responding to the report last weekend of plans under consideration by the Obama administration to permanently position battle tanks and other heavy military equipment in Eastern Europe, enough to maintain a 5,000-strong force in the Baltic states and other Eastern European NATO members.
The Pentagon’s plan, if approved by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, would see the positioning of weapons and tanks in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary. This would mark the first permanent deployment of US military equipment to NATO members that were once part of the Soviet Union.
The response of Putin and other Russian officials has made it clear that US plans for a significant military buildup in Eastern Europe have only pushed the two nuclear-armed powers even closer to the brink of war.
While US officials claim that the positioning of weapons is meant only to facilitate military training exercises, a logical interpretation of the deployment of arms to these countries is that the US and its NATO allies are preparing to launch a war against Russia. For its part, the Putin regime is responding accordingly, shoring up its military forces and making its own preparations for war by whipping up reactionary Russian nationalism.
There is nothing progressive about the response of the Putin administration to the aggression of the Western imperialists. Putin has combined saber-rattling and the buildup of Russia’s military forces with repeated appeals for some sort of deal with the US and Europe. Such a policy, sowing illusions in the possibility of accommodation with the rapacious Western imperialists while escalating military tensions, can only lead to disaster for the working class, not just in Russia, but throughout the world.