MOSCOW, March 20. /TASS/. Plans for deploying US armor on NATO’s eastern flank cast doubt on NATO’s compliance with its liabilities, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday following a statement by the chief of NATO’s Allied Land Command in Europe Ben Hodges.
"We have taken note of the statements Hodges made in Washington on March 17," the Russian Foreign Ministry’s comment runs. "As follows from what he said, in the near future there will follow a build-up of the US forces in the East European countries within the framework of the operation Atlantic Resolve. In particular, the fleet of US armor (the number of both Abrahams main battle tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles) will be increased from 60 pieces to 220. As he dwelt on the deployment options, Hodges speculated it would be preferable to keep the vehicles in the East European countries on open-ended terms, saying that it would be a normal state of affairs.
"In that connection we would like to recall the obligations the alliance assumed under the Russia-NATO Founding Act on the non-deployment of considerable combat forces on the permanent basis in the territory of newly-admitted members, in other words, the East European countries which Hodges was referring to. According to our estimates, in case of the deployment of US armour on the permanent basis on NATO’s eastern flank in the mentioned amounts there will emerge solid reasons for calling in question the alliance’s compliance with these liabilities," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
"If a policy undermining the key provisions of the Founding Act is a normal state of affairs, that means that Washington openly neglects the interests of European security and deliberately moves towards destabilization of the military-political situation," the commentary said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry hopes that Europe "does see the risk of unconditionally following advice from US generals and will opt for approaches that will rule out the risk of a slide towards a military confrontation between Russia and NATO."