The Russian President’s assertions came in American filmmaker Oliver Stone’s new documentary, Ukraine on Fire, that aired on Russia’s Ren TV on November 21.
According to the Russian News Agency TASS, Putin is alarmed by NATO expansion. Putin said the U.S. and other large NATO members push Eastern European members to establish bases, or “facilities which we think pose a threat to us,” and therefore are not for defense purposes, but to threaten Russia, and must be “countered.”
Within hours of Putin’s comments Russia deployed anti-ship missiles in the Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad and NATO slammed the move.
Eastern European NATO members have said on various occasions that they are not only willing to host military facilities of the alliance but want them as a defense from Russia and not to attack Russia.
Poland asked in 2014 for 10,000 NATO troops to deploy on its territory after Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula and placed 40,000 Russian troops in territory close to Poland. NATO has since sent troops and the U.S. is planning on installing a missile defense system in Poland in 2018. Poland is requesting more NATO troops to defend its territory.
Romania has asked for a fleet of NATO ships to “have regular and continued presence in the Black Sea” and has invited Ukraine and Georgia, non-NATO members that border Russia, to join this initiative. Estonia has also expressed its displeasure over the small number of NATO troops being sent to its sovereign state, saying they “are too small to worsen the alliance’s confrontation with Russia.”
Experts told Polygraph.info that Eastern European nations want to host NATO defense systems for their protection.
Analyst Keir Giles at the London-based think-tank Chatham House, wrote in a November 25, 2016 e-mail to Polygraph.info: “The inference that Poland and Romania were ‘forced’ to accept missile defense bases is completely wrong. The history of missile defense plans for Europe show that NATO member states instead lobby for the right to host these bases and the cancellation of previous hosting arrangements in the Czech Republic and Poland caused substantial political fallout.
“In fact, the United States has only limited powers of influence within NATO,” Giles wrote. “This can be seen in the mounting U.S. frustration at the inability or unwillingness of European allies to properly fund their own defense.”
Analyst Kathleen Weinberger of the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War wrote in an e-mail to Polygraph.info on November 26, 2016: “NATO member states in Eastern Europe have consistently requested greater NATO involvement and in fact usually ask for more than the U.S. is willing to give.”
Paul Ivan, an analyst at the European Policy Centre in Brussels wrote in an e-mail to Polygraph.info on November 25, 2016 that Putin is being "manipulative."
“The truth is that in what concerns NATO enlargement, the deployment of the missile defense system or of the other military assets in Central and Eastern Europe, the main pressure to make these things happen came from the Central and Eastern European members of the alliance.
“It is fictitious and manipulative to claim that Romania or Poland have been pressured to accept the deployment of the missile defense system when these countries have asked for years for the deployment of NATO assets on their territories.”
In his daily press briefing on November 22, U.S. Department of State spokesman Josh Kirby responded to Putin’s accusations saying: “NATO is a defensive alliance. It’s always been a defensive alliance. It remains a defensive alliance.”