NATO would currently be unable to protect the Baltics against a Russian attack, the commander of US ground forces in Europe, General Ben Hodges, said in a news report Wednesday.
“Russia could take over the Baltic states faster than we would be able to defend them,” Hodges was quoted as saying in a German-language article by news weekly Die Zeit.
The general said he agreed with an assessment by military analysts who claimed that Russian forces could conquer the capitals of Baltic states Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia within 36 to 60 hours.
Hodges also said NATO forces had found numerous deficiencies during the recent “Anaconda” military exercise in Poland, according to the article from Thursday’s edition of Die Zeit, released early to AFP.
Heavy military equipment could not be moved fast enough from western to eastern Europe, said the general, who also voiced concern about the alliance’s communication technology.
“Neither radio communication nor email are secure,” he was quoted as saying. “I assume that everything I write on my BlackBerry is being monitored.”
The Anaconda manoeuvre included troops from more than 20 NATO member states but was officially a Polish national exercise.
Hodges told Die Zeit that “some countries, like France and Germany, thought it would be too provocative toward Russia to call it a NATO exercise”.
-‘Boost NATO’s eastern flank’ –
Fears of Russian expansionism have rattled NATO’s former eastern bloc members and prompted the US-led alliance to bolster its presence along its eastern flank.
Following talks in Berlin Thursday, both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Poland’s Prime Minister Beata Szydlo stressed the importance of boosting security on the border with Russia.
“Germany has always sought dialogue with Russia,” Merkel said, but added that on the other hand, “Germany also sees the necessity to boost NATO’s eastern flank”.
“That’s why we are taking on additional responsibility in Lithuania, that’s why we took part in the Anaconda manoeuvre,” she said.
Full article: US commander warns NATO couldn’t repel Russian Baltic invasion (Spacewar)