Russia strongly condemned the planned maneuver of U.S. forces in Eastern Europe on Friday. The Russian Foreign Ministry stated that the military convoy known as the “Dragon Ride” undermines the Russia-NATO Founding Act and the Minsk Agreement.
“In case of the deployment of U.S. armor 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,” noted the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Moreover, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the United States of destabilizing the ceasefire agreement with Ukraine. He said, “Washington is encouraging Kiev to pursue a military solution.”
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The military maneuver in question involves 120 U.S. Army Strykers, and is part of the U.S. plan to show its own ability to move manpower and heavy equipment given Russia’s recently demonstrated capability to form troops quickly.
Russia hopes Europe will see the risks of following advice from U.S. generals
Russia is also hoping that Europe will “see the risk of unconditionally following the advice from U.S. generals and will not opt for approaches that will rule out the risk of a slide towards a military confrontation between Russia and NATO.”
The U.S. military’s 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment and troops from training locations in Estonia, Lithuania and Poland will convoy through Latvia until they reach their station in Vilseck, Germany. The convoy will start on March 21 until April 1.
According to U.S. Army Europe Commander Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the Dragon Ride will help them “further develop understanding of freedom of movement in Eastern Europe.”
Lt. Gen. Hodges pointed out that President Vladimir Putin exercises freedom of movement within Russia all the time. He noted that Russia has the ability to form 30,000 troops and deploy 1,000 tanks very quickly, which he described as impressive.
“This is what the US Army does, we can move a lot of capability a long distance,” said Lt. Gen Hodges. He added that the planned military convoy is a tremendous opportunity to practice and reassure allies amid Russia’s aggression.
President Putin ordered his Northern Fleet to a “full alert snap combat readiness exercise” in the Arctic while the U.S. and some of Eastern European NATO countries were conducting military exercises in Black Sea. Russia’s combat readiness exercise involved 38,000 troops, 41 ships, 15 submarines and 110 aircraft.
Russia asserts right to deploy nuclear weapon in Crimea
Russia recently stated that it has the right to deploy nuclear weapons in Crimea. Mikhail Ulyanov, head of the department nuclear non-proliferation and weapons control of the Foreign Ministry of Russia, stated that his country “has the right to put nuclear weapons in any region on its territory if it deems necessary. We hold that we have such a right, though Kiev has a different opinion on this matter.”
Russia sanctions over 200 foreign nationals
Yesterday, it was reported that Russia sanctioned more than 200 foreign nationals, including 60 from the United States, due to their anti-Russian actions and sentiments. The blacklisted individuals are prohibited from entering the country and their assets will be frozen.
Russia stated that it has no desire to play banning games with West. However, it is prepared to blacklist more foreign nationals if the West maintains the current or impose new sanctions. The presidential administration instructed the Russian embassy to put together a list of Russophobic- minded foreign nationals with assets in Russia.
EU extended economic sanctions against Russia
On Thursday, the European Union decided to extend its current economic sanctions against Russia.
“Leaders decided to align our sanctions regime to the implementation of the Minsk agreements brokered by Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande,” noted Donald Tusk, president of the European Council.
In response to the EU actions, Russia warned that it would “do what meets its national interests with regard to retaliatory steps.” Presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov indicated the possibility of Russia implementing counter-sanctions.