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US Admiral: Russia’s Naval Presence In Europe Has Reached Cold War Levels

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Russia’s naval activity in Europe is higher today than it was during the Cold War, a U.S. and NATO military officer warned Sunday.

Navy Adm. Michelle Howard, who commands U.S. naval forces in Africa and Europe and heads NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command in Italy, said Russia’s naval actions across the continent have increased dramatically in recent years as relations with the West have soured since the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

“We’re seeing activity that we didn’t even see when it was the Soviet Union,” Howard told Reuters. “They’re a global navy, I understand that. But the activity in this theater has substantially moved up in the last couple of years.”

The deployments are spread out to different corners of Europe, which could end up “splitting and distracting” NATO troops. Howard mentioned the deployment of an Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier to the Mediterranean, patrols in the Arctic and north Atlantic region and submarine movement in the Black Sea as some examples of current activity around Europe.

“When … you think about what happens when they move forces around, you look at the alliance and they end up splitting and distracting the view of the alliance,” Howard told Reuters.

Russia is capable of launching an attack against the Baltic states — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — within a day’s notice, according to new report by Lithuania’s intelligence service.

“This is a signal to NATO to improve its decision speed,” Lithuanian Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis said of the report, according to Euronews. “NATO’s reaction time is not as fast as we would like it to be.”


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