US general: Russia could soon run multiple military operations ({{commentsTotal}})

NATO fighter jets patrolling and protecting Baltic airspace had to respond 12 times on Tuesday in reaction to Russian military aircraft flying near the Latvian border. Source: (AFP/Scanpix)

In a few years, Russia will be able to do battle with several neighbors at once on the scale of its current operation in Ukraine, commander of the NATO Allied Land Command and of the US Army in Europe, Lt. Gen. Frederick Ben Hodges, said.

He told Reuters no new front seems to be imminent right now as Russia appears to have its hands full in Ukraine.

That could change within a few years, when upgrades sought by President Vladimir Putin would give Russia the ability to carry out up to three such operations at the same time, without a mobilization that would give the West time to respond.

"Certainly within the next four to five years they will have the ability to conduct operations in eastern Ukraine and pressure the Baltics and pressure Georgia and do other things, without having to do a full mobilization." Hodges said.

Hodges had previously said the US will bring around 150 battle tanks to Europe, mostly to Eastern Europe by the end of the year, and despite budget cuts, will seek to keep 30,000 US troops on the continent.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu was quoted this week by TASS news agency as saying Moscow would stick to its modernization plans estimated to cost more than 20 trillion rubles (260 billion euros at current rates) through 2020.

Editor: J.M. Laats

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