The commander of US ground forces in Europe, General Ben Hodges, said in an interview with Germany’s Die Zeit on Wednesday that Russian forces could capture Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania “quicker than we could get there to defend them.”
Hodges said he agreed with the assessment by military analysts that Russian forces could take over the capitals of the Baltic countries within 36 to 60 hours.
The general said NATO would be unable to move heavy military equipment fast enough from western to eastern Europe in the event of a Russian attack.
Hodges also voiced concern about NATO’s communication technologies which he described as not “secure.”
“I assume that everything I write on my BlackBerry is being monitored,” he said.
NATO announced last week that it would deploy four battalions to the Baltic States and Poland. The deployment, expected to be approved in a July summit in Warsaw, will be led by the United States, Germany, Britain and possibly Canada.
Russia, which is wary of the increased presence of NATO troops close to its borders, pledged to respond accordingly to any threats posed by the Western alliance.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Moscow will take adequate measures to counter NATO’s increasingly “aggressive rhetoric.”
NATO has stepped up its military buildup near Russia’s western borders since it suspended all ties with Moscow in April 2014 after Crimea re-integrated into the Russian Federation following a referendum in the Black Sea peninsula.
The United States and its European allies accuse Moscow of destabilizing Ukraine. Moscow, however, rejects having a hand in the crisis gripping the country and blames the West for the bloodshed that has plagued the country and left more than 9,000 people dead and over 20,000 others injured, Press TV reported.