The United States is making billions of dollars in American arms sales to European nations by raising the specter of Russian aggression, according to a report.
The weapons deliveries are part of the Donald Trump administration’s wider plans to confront Russia in the region, CNN reported on Saturday.
The State Department issued approval for a potential sale of the Patriot missile system, including about 100 missiles, to Sweden on Wednesday. The system is designed to intercept short- and medium-range ballistic missiles as well as drones.
A US military official based in Europe said Russia’s deployment of its nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad was “the biggest move we’ve seen” in terms of the country’s efforts to militarize the Baltics.
“They’ve always had ballistic missiles there; this kind of brings a significantly longer range than they had there previously,” the official told the American broadcaster.
He claimed that the Russian missiles could threaten parts of Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Germany and Sweden.
“These sales are a response to not only Russia’s increasing military activity, but also to the fact that Russia is modernizing its Air Force and long-range strike capabilities,” Magnus Nordenman, the director of the Transatlantic Security Initiative at the Washington-based Atlantic Council, told CNN.
The United States has encouraged its allies in the region to acquire American capabilities to counter Russian missiles.
In November 2017, the State Department authorized the sale of $10.5 billion in Patriot missile systems to Poland. However, Polish officials protested the hefty price tag.
The proposed sale includes four radar sets, four control stations, sixteen launching stations, and 208 Patriot Advanced Capabilty-3 (PAC-3) missiles, according to the Pentagon.
Last month, Poland’s Minister of Defense Mariusz Błaszczak said that his government had renegotiated a lower price and accelerated delivery time for the system.
US Vice President Mike Pence has claimed the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania face the specter of aggression from Russia.
“No threat looms larger in the Baltic States than the specter of aggression from your unpredictable neighbor to the east,” Pence said in July last year during a joint press conference with Baltic leaders in Tallinn, Estonia.
In July 2017, the US deployed the Patriot missile system to Lithuania to be used in NATO military drills — the first time the advanced missiles were sent to the Baltics near Russia’s border.
Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia possess only short-range anti-aircraft missiles, leaving their air space largely unprotected in the event of hostilities.
The Baltic states have expressed concern about their air defense weakness in the face of Russian air superiority.