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NATO’s Military Buildup: An Attempt To Deter Russia In Europe?

In the backdrop of Russian warship exercises and voyage to Syria via the channel of UK, concerns regarding the use of Russian warships to target civilians in Syria had made the Russia take back the request submitted in Spain to refuel the warships. These talked about warship exercises are part of an eight-ship carrier battle flotilla led by Admiral Kuznetsov, as it will be added to the ten vessels of Russia deployed at the Syrian coast.

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Pre-emptive Measures of NATO Allies

Francois Lenoir / Reuters

Consequently, NATO allies in the recent NATO meeting have shown concerns over the deployment of the Russia’s warship containing cruise missiles in the Baltic Sea. Similarly, Canada and Germany have announced the contribution of the troops to the NATO force in order to defend the Europe, and the delivery of Britain fighter jets to Romania will take place in coming year. Furthermore, the US is planning to deploy heavy tanks and artillery to respond to the provocations of Russia. In addition, NATO is focusing on building four battle groups by 2017. Similarly, a backup force is planned to support the NATO’s battle groups, which could be bolstered by the follow-on forces. However, the beefing up of troops in the Eastern Europe and Baltic fleet by the NATO is viewed as the response of NATO to Russian deployment of troops on the West of Moscow

Russian Stance

On the Russian front, ballistic missiles and nuclear-capable missiles have been deployed in the backdrop of the growing tensions between US-Russia over Syria, as the range of this missile could facilitate in targeting the Baltic States. For Moscow, the US interest to lead the NATO alliance in the backdrop of the eastward expansion of NATO is responsible for the Russians apprehensions and security concerns. Furthermore, the naval exercises of Russia are presented as the mean to enhance the military capability of Russia in experience and range.

Deteriorating NATO-Russia Relations

To put the tension between NATO and Russia into perspective, it is pertinent to understand the impact of US-Russia stalled talks to resolve the Syrian conflict. Likewise, the issue of alleged cyber attacks by Russia to influence the American Presidential Election has aggravated the concerns or threat perceptions on both sides. Furthermore, the tensions began to grow in the aftermath of a suspension of US-Russia talks over the Treaty on Weapons-grade plutonium. Some analysts read it as the Putin’s strategy to put pressure on the US to get her way in the US-Russia talks on Syrian ceasefire.

The rift between NATO and Russia can be traced back to the annexation of Crimea by Russia and NATO's pledge to impose sanctions on Russia. For Western analysts, Putin is seen as the leader who draws legitimacy from his narrative on confrontation with the West. Even though the naval journey of Russia towards Mediterranean has been done several times in the past, however, the recent naval voyage is seen as the Moscow's showoff of the naval might in the Europe.

While the Russian capability to carry out operations from the carrier was given importance around the end of Cold War, however, ample resources have been invested in improving this capability in the past few years. For some commentators, the ships are not traditionally utilized by Russia to implicitly signal in a crisis, however, the recent emphasis on increasing the reach of Russian warship fleets, particularly via the UK is viewed as the change in strategy.

Hence, If the latest escalation between Russia and the US is considered as Moscow's diplomatic signaling to Washington, it means that the Moscow is also projecting the capability to deploy task forces to the distant place and it can assert the military strength to gain leverage over her contemporaries. Therefore, the downplaying of the Russia potential to re-emerge, particularly, by the European Union would probably have to be revised in the near future.

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