Germany is sending hundreds of soldiers to the Baltic region near the Russian border as part of NATO’s anti-Russia force.
The troops will form part of a NATO force to deter Russia by deploying combat battalions in the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as well as in Poland.
Press TV reports:
The 500-strong military contingent, including 450 troops from German armed forces and the rest from Belgium and the Netherlands, assembled in the Bavarian town of Oberviechtach on Thursday for deployment to Lithuania.
The mechanized infantry soldiers attended a farewell ceremony before their deployment in what the US-led military alliance has described as a “deterrence” force against Russia.
“In the past few months, we have undergone a highly intensive training,” said Christoph Huber, commander of the so-called German Panzergrenadiere force, emphasizing that the soldiers were looking forward to the “great task.”
According to the reports, soldiers from Battalion 122 of Germany’s mechanized infantry, along with 26 Leopard-2 tanks and 170 armored vehicles would be stationed in Lithuania nearly 100 kilometers away from the Russian city of Kaliningrad in the coming weeks.
The troops would contribute to NATO’s “deterrence” force against Russia, which is deploying combat battalions in the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as Poland.
Up to 600 troops from members of the NATO military alliance are to be stationed near Kaliningrad by the end of next month.
The development comes as Germany’s main opposition party, The Left, has slammed NATO’s aggressive efforts and “escalation with Russia.”
However, the alliance’s military moves in the Baltics were welcomed by members of Germany’s ruling party as well as the Green Party in the nation’s parliament, the Bundestag.
Meanwhile, senior NATO military officials anticipated that the Kremlin will respond to the troop deployment, pointing to recent reports that Moscow has deployed its mobile nuclear “Iskander” missiles in Kaliningrad, which are capable of striking targets as far as Berlin.
Earlier this month, the US deployed nearly 4,500 troops and more than 2,800 pieces of military hardware to Poland in a bid to take part in NATO war games that Washington touted as “defense against Russian aggression.”
Moscow hit out at the biggest deployment of US troops in Europe since the end of the Cold War, criticizing the move as a threat to Russia’s national security.
“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. It’s [the US], not even a European state,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said at the time.