Are Russian diplomats being assassinated? (UPDATED)

Are Russian diplomats being assassinated? (UPDATED)

February 21, 2017

Since the death of Vitaly Churkin I see more and more speculations that Russian diplomats are being killed (example here and here)  This is exceedingly unlikely and I consider these speculations to be based on ignorance and a form of “clickbaiting”.  Here is why:

  1. So four senior Russian diplomats have died in one month.  Considering how many diplomats Russia has worldwide, this hardly a tsunami.
  2. They died in Ankara (murder), Athens (natural causes), New Delhi (disease) and New York (heart attack).  There is no pattern, no modus operandi, no common link between these men and their deaths.
  3. During the Cold War the US and Soviets had an understanding that they would not attack each other’s personnel simply because any such attack would trigger an immediate retaliation which both sides wanted to avoid.  There is absolutely nothing suggesting that this has changed.
  4. Killing diplomats is useless.  They don’t really take decisions but their symbolic value is immense.  Thus the benefit for murdering them is zero and the cost potentially a nuclear war.
  5. Russia is not the Palestinian Authority which had to ask for a French expertise to establish the real cause of death of Yassir Arafat.  If anybody hard murdered Russian diplomats the Russians would inevitably find out who did it and why and the retaliation would be terrible (all, repeat, all the Takfiri Chechen leaders have by now been killed by the Russians, as have been the units who killed the Russian pilot in Syria as have been the key Takfiri leaders in Aleppo).

Coincidences do happen and not everything is the result of a conspiracy.  In this case, there is exactly zero evidence of a plot by anybody to murder Russian diplomats and spreading rumors about that is unhelpful and distracting from the important issues.

The Saker

UPDATE: okay, I am not coming across, so let me try something different: call two authorities to my rescue.  First, Carl Sagan who used to say that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence“.  In this case, the claim is absolutely extraordinary: the murder of a senior diplomat is basically an act of war.  As for the evidence, at this time of writing it is exactly ZERO.  Nothing.  Ziltch.  Nihil.  My next expert authority is William of Occam who wrote “Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem” which meaning can be roughly rendered as “the simplest explanation is the best”.  For example, while it is definitely *possible* that Russian diplomats have been murdered, it is far more likely that they simply died.  Of course, I cannot prove a negative.  But at this point in time I repeat that this line of speculation is based on absolutely nothing, that there is no evidence at all while the the claim is truly extraordinary.  To simple speculate on the basis of a statistically irrelevant sample and arrive far reaching hypotheses is simply not “analysis”.  At best, this is idle gossip.  Frankly, I am kind of shocked and even disappointed that so many seem to miss the total lack of evidentiary support, nevermind any “proof”, for this hypothesis.

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Pentagon Wars and US Hegemony at the Root of Instability and Dislocation

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By Abayomi Azikiwe,

Washington Seeks to “Reassure” Europe at Munich Security Conference

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Pentagon wars and capitalist exploitation at the root of instability and dislocation

Members of the United States government spoke in Germany at the Munich Security Conference (MSC) held from February 17-19 in an effort to assuage growing fears in Europe over the apparent escalating official and public disaffection from the administration of President Donald Trump.

Vice President Mike Pence told the MSC that the U.S. commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was “unwavering.” Pence later said that the Russian Federation would be held accountable for actions internationally dispelling the myth that a Trump White House will lessen tensions with Moscow.

Republican Senator John McCain, however, raised questions about the stability of the current regime in Washington assessing that the Trump presidency was in “disarray and had a lot of work to do.” He cited the recent scandal and departure of National Security Advisor Gen. Michael Flynn as firm evidence for his viewpoint on the White House.

Everyday across the U.S. there are demonstrations being held against Trump’s policies which are being enacted through executive orders and presidential memorandums.

From the concerns over escalating military tensions with Iran and China to the domestic protests against the targeting of Muslims, immigrants, women, African Americans, etc., people have come out in the millions to register their opposition. At the same time, high-ranking Democratic Party spokespersons have sought to blame unverified claims of interference from the Russian Federation into the 2016 national presidential elections for the contradictions in the present administration.

Excessive propaganda against Moscow has reached levels not seen since the years prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Socialist states of Eastern Europe. Trump is falsely portrayed by the corporate media as being too close to Russia while at the same time his appointees within the administration are continually voicing hostilities towards the Kremlin.

Sanctions enacted against Russia by former President Barack Obama remain in effect. The Pentagon military buildup within the NATO states in the closing days of the previous administration has not been withdrawn.

These are some of the factors that are fueling speculation over the stability and internal consistency of the Trump White House. During the period leading up to his inauguration, Trump held a conversation with the Taiwanese leader indicating a possible shift in the “one China” policy which has been in operation since 1979. Nevertheless, in recent days it has now been reported that Trump engaged in a conversation with the People’s Republic of China government saying that the “One China” policy is still enforce.

Background to the Munich Security Conference

The annual gathering of the MSC brings together officials and analysts to discuss the major questions surrounding the continuing hegemony of imperialism. Amid economic difficulties and massive population shifts throughout Africa, the Middle East, Asia-Pacific and Europe, the capitalist ruling class of Europe and North America are concerned over the impact of these developments.

This meeting was not only addressed by officials of the leading western imperialist states in Europe and North America. Contrastingly, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke as well calling for the creation of a ‘Post-West World Order.” He described NATO as a relic of the cold war which is not serving the interests of peace and stability.

People’s Republic of China Foreign Minister Wang Yi utilized the summit to express the Asian nation’s opposition to the U.S. defense missile system known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD). The Republic of Korea government is scheduled to deploy the system by the end of 2017 ostensibly in response to missile developments taking place in the neighboring Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

In a post on its website, the MSC says: “Over the past five decades, the Munich Security Conference (MSC) has become the major global forum for the discussion of security policy. Each February, it brings together more than 450 senior decision-makers from around the world, including heads-of-state, ministers, leading personalities of international and non-governmental organizations, as well as high ranking representatives of industry, media, academia, and civil society, to engage in an intensive debate on current and future security challenges.”

This same entry goes on noting that: “In addition to its annual flagship conference, the MSC regularly convenes high-profile events on particular topics and regions and publishes the Munich Security Report. All its activities aim at offering the best possible platforms for a frank and open exchange of ideas and opinions.”

Nonetheless, there is a seemingly unease between the White House and the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany combined with the Brussels-based and U.S.-directed NATO military alliance.

Moreover, Merkel has clashed with other European states of the former socialist bloc such as Hungary in a dispute over the influx of migrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asian-Pacific countries. Pressure is emerging strongly from right-wing political parties not only in Germany but many other states including the Netherlands, Britain and France who are saying that the existing governments are not going far enough in curtailing immigration from these above-mentioned nations along with Eastern Europe.

In this MSC context what is often not discussed in detail are the reasons behind the current instability and dislocation around the world. The wars of occupation and genocide waged against the peoples of Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, Libya, Syria and Yemen are to blame in part for the current crisis.

At the same time the role of international finance capital is also responsible for the mass poverty and economic underdevelopment. Over the last two years the impact of the over production of oil and natural gas has triggered problems of declining growth rates, growing unemployment and poverty. People are fleeing their home countries due to the horrendous social conditions that are in existence.

Several years prior, reports abounded of the phenomenal economic growth that was taking place in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America. However, the dependence upon oil revenues in countries such as Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador, Russia, Nigeria, Angola, etc., has plunged millions back into poverty and uncertainty.

Domestic War Against People in the U.S.

Simultaneously huge sections of the U.S. population are being targeted for political and economic reasons by the administration.

A travel ban on people from seven African and Middle Eastern states was temporarily halted as a result of mass demonstrations and court actions. The Federal Court of Appeals in the Ninth Circuity unanimously upheld a temporary restraining order on the implementation of the ban placed by a lower Federal Court in Washington State.

These efforts by the Trump administration represent the continuation of U.S. military policy against Africa and the Middle East. The populations of these states have been displaced by the war and economic policies of the imperialist governments led by the U.S. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNRA) has declared that the degree of displacement internationally is the worst on record so far in history.  Approximately 75 million people have been driven from their homes both internally and outside of their geographic borders.

Compounding the domestic attacks against people from Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Iran and Iraq, the administration has intensified its targeting, detention and deportations of people from Mexico and other Central and South American countries. Many of these migrants have been displaced as well due to the economic policies of Washington which has made agricultural production and energy extraction largely non-viable industries within their national economies.

Trump administration Secretary of Homeland Security Gen. John Kelly stated in a draft memorandum that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) along with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will hire 10,000 new agents to pursue, detain and deport so-called “criminal aliens” from the U.S. Other reports which have been denied by the White House advance proposals which will federalize 100,000 National Guard troops to assist in the search and remove policy towards people considered as undesirables.

These policy initiatives are related to the promise made by Trump during the national presidential elections of 2016 to construct a wall along with border between the U.S. and the Republic of Mexico. Trump insists that the funding taken from the tax dollars of working families to build the wall will be authorized by Congress. Nonetheless, he says that a tariff on imported goods to Mexico will serve as a reimbursement for the expenses related to the building of the wall.

Any reasonable observers within the European Union (EU) member-states as well as the Russian Federation realize that the situation inside the U.S. is quite politically fluid. The burgeoning hostility towards the administration from various sectors of the population is bound to influence the attitudes of governments and civilian organizations in Europe.

 

Big Bad Russia vs Poor Little NATO: A Disinformation Primer (VIDEO)

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NATO officials make it sound like Russia has encircled the globe with military bases. Welcome to our upside down garbage-world!

Everyone feels bad for NATO and its Napoleon complex.

Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has even rolled out the red carpet for NATO. Poor little guy just needs some encouragement and positive reinforcement. Don’t mind the S-400s. Make yourself at home!

But apparently Washington’s “defensive alliance” demands pity and sympathy from the entire world. After all, look at how Russia rudely placed its country right next to all of NATO’s defensive military outposts.

Big bad Russia is being so mean to little ol’ NATO

Ukraine: Allowing the right wing Kiev regime to join NATO would be a fast track to World War

Ukraine’s NATO Referendum A Vote For War

 

546423423434The massive artillery bombardment of the peoples of the Donbass, that has been raining down shells and fire on them since Christmas, is a war crime of horrific proportions designed to terrorise the people and bring their refusal to be subject to the NATO-installed regime in Kiev to an end. It is also becoming clear that it has a political purpose, which is to increase anti-Russian, pro-NATO propaganda among the Ukrainian people to influence them to vote to join NATO in a referendum, the consequences of which will be dramatic because a vote for NATO will be a vote for war.

On Thursday, February 9, the Frankfurter Allgemeine, of the Funke Mediengruppe newspaper chain, reported that the claimed president of Ukraine, Mr. Poroshenko, intends to hold a referendum on NATO membership. Poroshenko referred to recent opinion polls that indicate 54 per cent of Ukrainians now want to join NATO as opposed to 16 per cent before the NATO-backed coup put his puppet regime in power. This change in opinion is a direct result of the aggression of the Kiev regime against the peoples of eastern Ukraine that refuse to accept the legitimacy or anti-Russian policies of that regime and its fascist allies, which resistance is turned upside down by the western propagandists and described as Russian aggression against Ukraine.

The continuous violations of the Minsk ceasefire accords and the refusal by Kiev to adhere to the steps to be taken to grant the Donbass republics autonomy and protect the rights of their peoples as stipulated in the Minsk agreements, including the right not to be attacked, are shrugged off as irrelevant in the face of the supposed aggression from the east.

In line with this propaganda, the NATO powers lay all the blame on Russia and portray Ukraine as a helpless victim. The minds of Ukrainians are manipulated to induce them to vote to join NATO; create the circumstances of war, falsely identify the attacked as the attackers, raise fears of “aggression” from Russia, drive the people into seeking the protection of the NATO war alliance.

Poroshenko stated,

“As President, I am guided by the views of my people and I will hold a referendum on the issue of NATO membership.”

What he really meant to say of course is that “I and my NATO masters have successfully frightened the Ukrainian people with this war, suppressed the opposition, turned Russia into the bogey-man and made the people prisoners of the scenario we created.”

The consequences of such a vote, and of Ukraine being accepted into NATO, would be immediate and disastrous for the Donbass republics and for Russia. For once Ukraine is a member of the NATO alliance logic dictates that the alleged ‘Russian aggression” against Ukraine and the “rebellion” of the Donbass republics will lead to a final offensive to crush the republics once and for all. NATO will not tolerate one of its members facing such an internal war on NATO borders or tolerate an “aggressor” state which it accuses of instigating the “rebellion.” Once Ukraine is part of NATO, Russian “aggression” against Ukraine will be deemed to be “aggression against NATO.”

An offensive will follow and the Donbass republics will either face the fight alone and be crushed by the combined forces of NATO in Ukraine, or they will be supported by Russia leading to a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia. If Russia stays out of the fight, as it has tried to do since 2014, the defeat of the republics and the establishment of large NATO military formations in Ukraine will then constitute a direct and immediate threat against Russia itself that could not be tolerated.

Of course the people of Ukraine will not be informed that this is the logical outcome of a pro-NATO vote, that it will be a vote not for peace but for war. They will be bombarded with cheap American slogans now being used against the American people by the new Trump regime in Washington, that “peace comes through strength,” and will be led like lemmings to their doom.

In line with this strategy we can expect the military pressure on the Donbass republics to increase as spring approaches. We can expect more assassinations of its leadership as we have seen take place with the recent assassination of Mikhail Tolstykh, known as Givi, leader of the Somali battalion of the Donetsk Republic forces, the assassination of the chief of staff of the People’s Army of Lugansk, Colonel Oleg Anaschenko, and the assassination of Colonel Arsen Pavlov of the Donetsk forces, on October 16 of 2016.

And this is exactly what the Kiev minister responsible for the “temporarily occupied territories stated,” Yuri Grymchak,

“We believe that in the near future, a year and a half, we will return this territory when its maintenance becomes too expensive for the Russian Federation.”

In Washington the Trump administration continues to apply the same strategies as the administrations before it, to threaten retaliation against any nation that refuses to kowtow and Russia is no exception. Despite Trump’s words of supposed moderation towards Russia it is clear from the statements of his ambassador at the UN that the illegal “sanctions” against Russia will continue indefinitely since the American position under Trump remains the same as under Obama; no lifting of “sanctions” unless Crimea is retuned to Ukraine. This will never happen and the Americans know it will never happen. So, essentially the Americans are stating that Crimea is just an excuse to inflict economic damage on Russia until Russia agrees to become just another one of America’s satellite states.

One has only to take note of the flurry of phone calls made by the new American minster of defence, General “Mad Dog” Mattis to a series of flunkies around the world to see what the situation really is. In quick succession General Mattis called, on January 26, the Israeli Defence Minister, then the German minister of Defence and the French Minister of Defence, on January 30th met with King Abdullah of Jordan, called the Korean minister of defence and the Italian minister of defence, on the 31st called the minister of defence of Saudi Arabia, on February 3nd, called the Korean national security adviser and met with the Japanese prime minister in Tokyo, on February 6th called the Canadian minister of defence, on the 7th the President of Afghanistan, and the minister of defence of Mexico, on the 8th the ministers of defence of India and Iraq, on the 9th the minister of defence of Pakistan, and on the 10th met with the German minister of defence at the Pentagon; a very busy agenda.

In every call and meeting, echoing the sycophantic visit by British Prime Minister May to the US earlier, the theme was the same, the NATO alliance is strong, cooperation will continue. In the case of Germany and Japan, Mattis, as the Americans like to do from time to time, reminded the Germans and Japanese of their status as occupied countries by thanking them for “hosting” the American occupation forces.

These calls follow the biggest deployment of US troops in Europe since the end of the so-called Cold War. Russia has branded these forces, which are arriving now arrived in Poland, Ukraine and Romania, a threat to its national security. President Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated,

“We perceive it as a threat. These actions threaten our interests, our security especially as it concerns a third party building up its military presence near our borders. The US is not a European state.”

A few days later snap air force drills were conducted in Russia and new anti-aircraft and antimissile defence systems were deployed around Moscow.

On the 9th of February Poroshenko signed the document permitting large-scale manoeuvres in Ukraine. On social media a video taken by a Slovak citizen shows a long train transporting NATO armoured personnel carries, tanks, and transport vehicles near the town of Sabinov 100 kilometres west of the Ukraine border heading towards Ukraine, and the Slovaks report that they have seen many of these trains transporting armoured vehicles over the past days, as well as military truck convoys. The local government stated that 6 military trains and 22 military truck convoys will have passed through that one location by Saturday 12 February and that they are to be used in large scale manoeuvres by the Ukrainian army, the Americans and other NATO forces including German, British and Canadian elements. These are part of larger elements that have been fanning out from the Baltic to Romania threatening Russia along its entire western flank the past few months. If I were the Russian General Staff I would be very edgy. But they have cooler heads than mine and in the lead President Putin. There lies a hope.

Meanwhile, in the west, the anti-war movement is lost in the swamp of the anti-Trump movement that has adopted the anti-Russian rhetoric of the NATO war machine and seems not to notice that Trump is proving just as aggressive as their alternative candidate for power, or worse, does all it can to push him further down the road to war, and seems to be unaware that Trump, who has adopted Reagan’s “peace through strength” rhetoric, does not need pushing.

Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto.

EU must not bow to US threat over reduced support for NATO: Juncker

‘EU must not give in to US threats on NATO’

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker attends a debate on the priorities of the incoming Malta Presidency of the EU for the next six months at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, on January 18, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker attends a debate on the priorities of the incoming Malta Presidency of the EU for the next six months at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, on January 18, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says Europe must not give in to threats by US Defense Secretary James Mattis that Pentagon could scale back its pledge to defend Europe if US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member states do not increase military spending.

“It has been the American message for many, many years. I am very much against letting ourselves be pushed into this,” Juncker said in a speech on the sidelines of the international Munich Security Conference on Thursday.

“I don’t like our American friends narrowing down this concept of security to the military,” he said, highlighting that it would be levelheaded to consider a “modern stability policy” that consists of several components.

“If you look at what Europe is doing in defense, plus development aid, plus humanitarian aid, the comparison with the United States looks rather different. Modern politics cannot just be about raising defense spending,” Juncker said.

“Europeans must bundle their defense spending better and spend the money more efficiently,” he added.

The remarks came a day after Mattis warned that the amount of American support for NATO could depend on whether other countries meet their own spending commitments.


US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis addresses a news conference during a NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium, on February 16, 2017. 

“Americans cannot care more for your children’s future security than you do. I owe it to you to give you clarity on the political reality in the United States and to state the fair demand from my country’s people in concrete terms,” he said in a speech to NATO allies in the Belgian capital city of Brussels on Wednesday.

He added that “America will meet its responsibilities,” noting that American support had its limits.

US President Donald Trump has called NATO “obsolete,” demanding members of the transatlantic organization to either pay up for US support or rely on their own military power.

World War 3 With Russia “Very Likely”. Why doesn’t the EU ban all USA troops from Europe before it’s too late?

NATO Chief: World War 3 With Russia “Very Likely”

U.S. Army and NATO Generals have warned that the planet is teetering on the brink of World War 3 between the U.S. and Russia

U.S. Army and NATO Generals have warned that the planet is teetering on the brink of World War 3 between the U.S. and Russia. 

In a recent interview for Time magazine, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev echoed recent warnings by military chiefs, saying that the tensions between NATO and Russia indicate that a nuclear war is “imminent”.

“More troops, tanks and armored personnel carriers are being brought to Europe. NATO and Russian forces and weapons that used to be deployed at a distance are now placed closer to each other, as if to shoot point-blank. It all looks as if the world is preparing for war… The nuclear threat once again seems real.”

His warning comes after military bosses told the world’s media that citizens need to prepare for the very real prospect that the United States and Russia will be at war with each other in the near future.

Anonhq.com reports:

At a press briefing, the U.S. Army and NATO Generals, however, told reporters that they should prepare for World War III with Russia in the very near future.

If the U.S. wants peace with Russia, it must prepare for war in Europe. They are convinced that war is a peace-making endeavor. Major General Timothy McGuire, deputy commander of the U.S. military in Europe, told reporters when asked if the large deployment was meant to send a message to Russia:

“The best way to maintain the peace is through preparation. This is just showing the strength and cohesion of the alliance and the U.S. commitment to maintain the peace on the continent.”

Beginning in February, the U.S. Army will send its 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, with about 50 Black Hawk and 10 CH-47 Chinook helicopters and 1,800 personnel, as well as a separate aviation battalion with 400 troops and 24 Apache helicopters across Poland, the Baltic states, Bulgaria, Romania and Germany.

So, who deploys Bradley’s, Paladins, anti-ballistic missile systems, indirect fire systems, helicopters, and armed troops at international borders to maintain peace? Christian Goerke, who heads Germany’s Left party in Brandenburg, says:

“Tanks never create peace anywhere. Quite the contrary, a troop deployment of such a scale is part of always increasing buildup and provocation.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov claims the aggressive western buildup in Eastern Europe is not a warning, it’s a provocation:

“Any country can regard a buildup of foreign military presence near its borders negatively and it will do so. This is precisely the way we see it. We interpret this as a threat to us and as actions that endanger our interests and our security. It’s a third country that is building up its military presence on our borders in Europe. It isn’t even a European country.”

In its response, Russia deployed the S-400 Triumph air defense system for the air defense of Moscow and the central industrial region of Russia. The anti-aircraft missile system, reports RT, is capable of hitting moving U.S. and NATO missiles at a distance of 400 kilometers, as well as ballistic targets moving at speeds of up to 4.8 kilometers per second at altitudes.

America’s ‘peace-making’ efforts have drawn not just Russia’s but China’s and North Korea’s ire as well (deployment of a squadron of elite fighter jets to bases in Japan to protect itself from North Korea, and vowing to wage war to bar China’s access to disputed islands in the South China Sea).

In a televised address on New Year’s Day, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un warned “unless the U.S. and its vassal forces stop nuclear threat and blackmail and unless they stop the war exercises which they stage right at our noses under the pretext of annual exercises, the DPRK would keep increasing the military capabilities for self-defense and preemptive striking capacity with a main emphasis on nuclear force.”

As a warning shot at Donald Trump, the Chinese military leaked the images of the Dongfeng-41 — an advanced intercontinental ballistic missile system deployed in the Northeast. China’s state-run Global Times describes it as a nuclear solid-fuel road-mobile system with a range of 14,000 kilometers and a payload of 10-12 nuclear warheads that can target anywhere in the world.

USA/NATO continues aggression against Russia under Trump using false pretext of “Russian aggression”

U.S. Army tanks being moved to Russian border

UPI — Jan 31, 2017

American armoured vehicles in Georgia. The news of the exercise, called Noble Partner 2016, angered Russia, who said it could destabalise the region. Click to enlarge

American armoured vehicles in Georgia prior to a drill called Noble Partner 2016. The exercise, which took place in March last year, angered Russian officials who said it could destabalise the region. Click to enlarge

The U.S. Army will send M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks to the Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania along Russia’s borders ahead of a NATO operation in the spring.

The tanks participated in joint drills between U.S. and Polish forces but some are being moved to the Baltic states to await a deterrence operation set to reassure the United States’ European allies that Washington, D.C., is committed to their defense, The Wall Street Journal reported.

German troops are also arriving in Lithuania, British troops are reinforcing positions in Estonia and Canadian troops are being sent to Latvia.

The United States deployed 87 tanks, 144 armored vehicles and 3,500 troops — the biggest U.S. deployment in Europe since the end of the Cold War — to perform regional operations through most of 2017 to combat Russian aggression, the Pentagon said. Another unit will replace the brigade that’s currently deployed in Europe in October.

“This is the largest ever U.S. deployment in Poland and it’s about deterrence,” U.S. Army in Europe commander Gen. Ben Hodges told NBC News. “An outright attack by Russia is unlikely, but the best way to keep it unlikely is to do what we’re doing here today.”

The United States did not have a single tank in Europe prior to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

“Let me be very clear, this is one part of our efforts to deter Russian aggression, ensure territorial integrity of our allies and maintain a Europe that is whole, free, prosperous and at peace,” U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Tim Ray, deputy commander of U.S. European Command, previously said of the NATO operation.

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