Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to NATO’s recent moves by threatening the West that the Kremlin would be forced to direct its armed forces at any countries, which might threaten Russia.
“We [Russia] will be forced to aim our armed forces … at those territories from where the threat comes,” he said on Tuesday, speaking at a joint news conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, according to Reuters.
Putin’s comments come after the U.S. has recently said it is increasing its military presence in NATO states in Eastern Europe, including deploying some heavy military equipment in the Baltic states and Poland to rapidly send 5,000 troops to counter Russia threat and aggression. Russian officials then denounced such a move and called it the most aggressive U.S. act since the Cold War.
Putin pointed out that Russia was mostly concerned about a long-term NATO’s project to build a missile defense system in Europe.
“It is NATO that is moving towards our border and we aren’t moving anywhere,” he said after the talks with Finnish President at a presidential residence outside Moscow.
Putin opens Russian ‘military Disneyland’ and announces 40 new ballistic missiles
Apparently, Tuesday was a special day for Russian President as he also officially opened Russian ‘military Disneyland’, and announced 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles.
In Putin’s opinion, the theme park at Kubinka, which is located 30 miles outside Moscow, is part of Russia’s ‘military-patriotic work with young people’. Welcoming the country’s first cutting-edge technology military exposition, Putin announced that Russia would add 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles to its nuclear arsenal this year.
Putin explained the missiles as part of an extensive program aimed to modernize the country’s military, and noted that they would be able to overcome “even the most technically advanced anti-missile defense systems.”
The opening ceremony of Russia’s ‘Disneyland’ also started Army 2015, a Russian military exhibition boasting the most advanced and latest military equipment, which was attended by many guests from dozens of countries.
Russia’s deputy defense minister, Anatoly Antonov, announced at the conference that the West was “provoking an arms race” with Russia, stopping short of saying that the West was provoking a war against Russia.
Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of NATO, responded to the claims and announcements made at the conference by saying that Russia is unjustifiably spreading panic. “This nuclear sabre-rattling of Russia is unjustified,” he said. “It’s destabilizing and it’s dangerous.”
The park is planned to be completed in 2017, and will cost Russia 20 billion rubles (£236m), according to Russia’s Kommersant newspaper. The park will offer its visitors to ride tanks, shoot guns and participate in extreme sports.
Russian Foreign Ministry warns the U.S. of “dangerous consequences”
Meanwhile, the three Baltic states – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – have asked NATO to permanently deploy ground troops to their territory amid Russia’s concerning and threatening actions at the borders with the three nations. Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak said Sunday that he held talks with U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter about deploying U.S. heavy military equipment to Poland.
The Kremlin then denounced the plans, warning the U.S. that deployment of new military weaponry anywhere near Russian borders would “entail dangerous consequences.”
“The United States is inciting tensions and carefully nurturing their European allies’ anti-Russian phobias in order to use the current difficult situation for further expanding its military presence and influence in Europe,” the Russian Foreign Ministry stated in a comment on Monday.
“We hope that reason will prevail and it will be possible to save the situation in Europe from sliding toward a military standoff which could entail dangerous consequences,” the Russian Foreign Ministry warned. Or threatened?
Russia’s nuclear arsenal currently includes military stockpile of approximately 4,500 nuclear warheads with nearly 1,800 strategic warheads deployed on missiles and at bomber bases. Another 700 strategic warheads are in reserves with roughly 2,700 non-strategic warheads. Furthermore, about 3,500 of retired warheads await dismantlement.
Kerry: Russia’s actions could force us go back to Cold War
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry responded to Russia’s plans of adding 40 intercontinental ballistic missiles to its nuclear arsenal by saying that it was concerning and could force Russia and the West return to the international hostility of the “Cold War.”
“Nobody should hear that kind of announcement from the leader of a powerful country and not be concerned about what the implications are,” Kerry told reporters via teleconference from Boston, where he is recovering from surgery on a broken leg.
“Of course it concerns me, we have the START agreement (the nuclear arms reduction treaty between the U.S. and Russia) and we’re trying to move in the opposite direction,” he said.
Kerry noted that since the 1990s there had been “enormous cooperation” in the destruction of nuclear weapons that were located on the territories of the former Soviet Union states.
“No one wants to see us step backwards, nobody wants to, I think, go back to a kind of Cold War status,” he added.
Is there enough money for Putin’s military appetite?
Six months ago, Putin announced that Russia would add 50 ballistic missiles to its nuclear arsenal in 2015, while at least one high-ranking Russian military official has openly noted that the Kremlin’s appetite exceeds its wallet.
Putin has repeatedly said he would maintain both his $400 billion, decade-long military modernization campaign, and the social safety net. Furthermore, speaking at the opening ceremony of Russia’s military ‘Disneyland’, Putin stated that at least 70 percent of all weapons should be modernized by 2020.
However, there are clear indications that with that kind of military activities, Russia’s money will run out fast. Furthermore, Russia lags behind in the advanced technology required for some weapons systems. Therefore, it can be noted that Putin might be just trying to maintain the image of a robust and nuclear military power without actually having the means to be the president of one.