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Russia has not seen such a major military buildup close to its borders since 1941 when the Third Reich sent the Wehrmacht to conquer the Soviet Union, Professor Stephen F. Cohen said in his recent interview on The John Batchelor Show, referring to NATO’s increasingly assertive strategy in Eastern Europe and the Baltics.
Russia has been concerned with NATO’s overall strategy and its recent moves particularly. Last week the US completed its first land-based component of the Aegis missile shield at an air base near Deveselu, Romania. A day later, the alliance held a groundbreaking ceremony in Poland. The Aegis Ashore base is scheduled to be deployed in Redzikowo by 2018. Moscow has warned that the system could be detrimental for global peace and stability. NATO officials have tried to alleviate Russian concerns by saying that the Aegis system is purely defensive, but Cohen warned that it the complex could be used for other purposes. "We have been watching for nearly a month a steady buildup of American and NATO forces along near Russia’s borders –on land, on sea and in the air", said Cohen. "There has been nothing like this on Russia’s borders, such an amassing of hostile military force, since the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941". "Somebody said that the only defensive weapon in military history is a foxhole ; everything else could be used for offensive purposes. [NATO’s missile defense system] could be used for offensive purposes. They can launch cruise missiles", he observed.
Russian officials and experts have also questioned whether it was reasonable to build a shield that is supposed to protect the West against Iran’s ballistic missiles considering that Tehran does not pose any threat to its neighbors and beyond. The Islamic Republic is not the real target. "The majority of our missile defense installations … are directed at Russia. They are not directed at Iran, that’s a fairytale. The government puts it out, but nobody believes it", the analyst noted.
Professor Cohen has long warned that Washington’s policies towards Russia have been the key reason for the recent cold spell in relations between the two global powers. This trend appears to be getting more dangerous. "Are we sleepwalking towards an actual war with Russia or is this a plan to provoke a war with Russia ?" he asked. "If we are sleepwalking, we all need to yell, "Wake up !" If they actually now would not mind a war with Russia, then they are crazy. Because there is no way if there is war with Russia on Russia’s borders that eventually some kind of nuclear weapons will not come into play".