US general: NATO couldn't stop Russian attack on Baltics (17)
NATO would currently be unable to protect the Baltics against a Russian attack, the commander of U.S. ground forces in Europe, Gen. Ben Hodges, was quoted in a news report on Wednesday.
“Russia could take over the Baltic states faster than we would be able to defend them,” Hodges was quoted saying by German weekly Die Zeit.
The general said he agreed with an assessment by military analysts that said Russian forces could conquer the capitals of the Baltic States of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia within 36 to 60 hours.
Hodges also said NATO forces had identified numerous deficiencies during the recent “Anaconda” military exercise in Poland. Heavy military equipment could not be moved fast enough from Western to Eastern Europe. Hodges also voiced concern about the alliance's communication technology.
“Neither radio communication nor email are secure,” he was quoted saying. “I assume that everything I write on my Blackberry is 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”.
NATO announced last week that it would deploy four battalions to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland to counter a more assertive Russia, ahead of a landmark summit in Warsaw on Jul. 8-9.
All four countries were once occupied by Soviet forces and remain deeply suspicious of Russian intentions, especially after Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Russia bitterly opposes NATO's expansion into former Soviet republics and satellites and last month said it would create three new divisions in its southwest military region to meet what it described as a dangerous military build-up along its borders.