WASHINGTON, August 29 (RIA Novosti) - The threat of a NATO confrontation with Russia remains slim, but increased military exercises will count for everything, a retired US foreign policy and defense analyst told RIA Novosti.
“Exercises count for everything,” Henry Gaffney said, referring to possible NATO actions and deployment of forces, following the Wales summit.
“There will be more exercises, more rotation of forces through, which gives them an idea of what the landscape is and how to operate there if they have to,” he said, adding that threat of a NATO confrontation with Russia is not great, although “if Putin does something really bad, now goes in for the invasion of Ukraine, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a move for the US to bring a brigade into Poland.”
Ahead of the NATO summit in early September, there has been public discussion of NATO increasing their rapid response forces and rotating troops along NATO’s eastern front. While the alliance already rotates troops throughout bases, secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen made statements that these rotations would increase, potentially in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
“I think Putin fully knows that the Baltics are under Article V and that requires a big response [from NATO], that he can’t sneak in there,” Gaffney said, dismissing the idea of a Russian provocation among the Baltic countries.
Gaffney said the notion of Putin “putting in ‘little green men’” in neighboring countries, particularly the Baltics, was absurd, as Russian assets could not “go in there without them being detected.”
Gaffney is currently retired. He served as the director of strategy and concepts and the Center for Naval Analyses. He spent 12 years, spanning the 1980s, working on NATO matters including nuclear issues and worked for 28 years out of the office of the US Secretary of Defense.