Over the course of the past few months, the United States has pushed NATO to build up troops on Russia's border, held war games in its backyard, and deployed aircraft carriers to the Mediterranean in order to send a message to Russia of what the US is capable of. The rationale for such actions has always been very vaguely communicated, but as NATO European Command General Philip Breedlove said, it has all been to send a signal of deterrence to Russia.
Granted, over two years ago Russia annexed Crimea, however since that time the turmoil in that area has been relatively quiet. The reality is that, according to General Petr Pavel, chairman of the NATO Military Committee, there is no intelligence that suggests Russia is planning any broad-scale aggression whatsoever.
According to General Pavel, NATO is not contemplating any further troop build-up in Eastern Europe beyond what's already been done, and as Reuters reports, Pavel claims that the build-up was just in hopes of discouraging Russia from orchestrating the kind of campaign it used to annex the Crimea peninsula. However what Pavel said next is most interesting:
"Deployment of substantial military force is not being considered. It is not the aim of NATO to create a military barrier against broad-scale Russian aggression, because such aggression is not on the agenda and no intelligence assessment suggests such a thing."
Well that's quite a statement, because the actions of the US and NATO have completely contradicted that assessment. If Pavel is correct, and there is no actual intelligence that suggests any aggression is being planned by Russia, then either the US is trying to provoke the country into action on purpose, which is always a possibility, or another possibility is one that we pointed out last week, and that is the Saudi's are pressuring the US to get rid of Assad. If the US accommodates that request from its good friend Saudi Arabia, then a direct conflict with Russia would be imminent, as Russia has made it very clear that the US isn't to take Assad out militarily. If the US knows it is going to go ahead and topple Assad at the behest of the Saudi's, then it would make sense to have an already established force surrounding Russia's border to deter any immediate action.
Whatever the reason for the build-up, we will be watching closely to see how this ultimately plays out.