The Russian Defense Ministry has accused the United States of beefing up troops near the Russian border in Poland, which is in breach of an agreement between Russia and the NATO.
According to the ministry, the Third Armored Brigade Combat Team of the U.S. Armed Forces was supposed to replace the servicemen of the Second Armored Brigade Combat Team in Poland last month, but the two teams ended up staying there together.
“The Second Armored Brigade arrived in Poland quietly with its military equipment. At the same time, the military equipment of the Third Armored Brigade did not leave Poland and the Baltic area,” the ministry’s spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said.
The presence of both brigades violated the Russia-NATO Founding Act signed in 1997, which opposes “additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces,” according to the spokesman.
Konashenkov added that the U.S. side took advantage of the chaos around the Russia-Belarus joint military drills Zapad-2017 when deploying the troops.
“This whole Baltic and Polish hysteria about a ‘Russian threat’ posed by Zapad-2017 is a fraudulently played information smokescreen part of the Pentagon’s operation,” he said.
The Zapad-2017 drills, held from Sept. 14 to 20, was widely criticized for the lack of transparency by the West who remained skeptical about Moscow’s “real intentions,” while the Russian side repeatedly claimed that the exercises were purely defensive in nature.
Reportedly the largest-scale between Russia and Belarus since the Cold War, the drills involve up to 12,700 troops, 70 warplanes and helicopters, 680 units of military equipment.