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US military presence cuts in Europe could help ease tension, says diplomat

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was commenting on Washington’s plans to cut the American personnel in Germany

MOSCOW, June 11. /TASS/. The downsizing of the US military contingent on German territory would help ease the military and political tension in the region, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a news briefing on Thursday, commenting on Washington’s plans to cut the American personnel in Germany.

"On our part, we would welcome any of Washington’s moves for really cutting its military presence in Europe. Such steps would undoubtedly contribute to reducing the confrontational potential and the military-political tension in the Euro-Atlantic region," the Russian diplomat said.

"Incidentally, Moscow, let me remind you, has always said that maintaining the considerable numerical strength of the US troops in Germany after its unification in 1990 is a vestige of the cold war period," she stressed.

The Russian side is convinced that European countries can ensure their security independently in present-day realities "without the persistent American patronage," the diplomat said.

"All the more so as it [the patronage], as is known, is far from being selfless, which Washington regularly and quite insistently recalls, giving instructions to its European allies, including, incidentally, Berlin, to increase their contribution to the NATO budget and does this unceremoniously, to put it mildly," Zakharova said.

Practical steps do not always follow Washington’s declarations on its intentions to withdraw its troops from foreign countries, the Russian diplomat pointed out.

"I can cite Syria as an example. Despite numerous statements by the US president on his decision to finally withdraw from that country, the Pentagon continues keeping its combat units and bases in the violation of international norms and contrary to the common sense and the leader’s expressed will and does not consider it necessary to give any explanations," she said.

The initiative on cutting the US troops in Germany causes a cautious attitude also because it was followed by invitations to the US soldiers still deployed in Germany to relocate to Poland, Zakharova noted.

"I would like to stress that the reconfiguration of the US military presence in Europe towards the Russian borders will not only exacerbate the already high tension in the sphere of security on the continent but will also further complicate the prospects of building a constructive dialogue between Russia and NATO in the military and political sphere," the Russian diplomat said.

"In any case, if Washington is really going to gradually free German land from US Army units, it should also take away with it the American non-strategic nuclear weapons deployed on the territory of Germany, especially considering that the Americans continue actively practicing the methods of handling them in the course of joint nuclear missions with the participation of NATO non-nuclear states, and this clearly violates the basic provisions of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which we have drawn attention on many occasions," Zakharova stressed.

US troops’ withdrawal from Germany

The news agency Reuters reported last week, citing a US official that President Donald Trump had ordered the Pentagon to cut the American military personnel in Germany. That official said that about 9,500 US soldiers and officers would be pulled out from Germany by September. Currently, about 34,500 US troops are stationed in Germany.

On its part, the German government announced that it was waiting for official information and Washington’s final decision before giving any detailed comments.