WASHINGTON DC – The Pentagon responded to warnings from Russian politicians, who in turn criticized the US decision to send additional troops to the Middle East.
The Defense Department defends its decision to implement its troops saying that it is Russia that is trying to destabilize the situation in the Middle East .
“This deployment is not a provocation, the additional troops are for defensive purposes to address air, naval, and ground-based threats in the Middle East,” Lt. Col. Carla M. Gleason from the Pentagon’s Europe public affairs unit told CNBC in an email Tuesday.
“Russia seeks to revise the world order and reject the international system that has enabled peace for decades. Russia has sought to exploit chaos and advance its influence, expanding beyond its near abroad. And it has done so with particular focus in the Middle East,” she added.
For the U.S., the Middle East “remains a vitally important region to our national security interests, where the Department (of Defense) strives to maintain a favorable balance of power, deny safe havens to terrorists, and secure critical trade routes and ensure freedom of navigation,” Gleason added.
Russia reacted angrily to the U.S.′ plans on Tuesday with officials, including the country’s deputy foreign minister, warning the U.S. that it was tantamount to a “military provocation. ” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov urged “all sides to show restraint.”
This week saw a further escalation of tensions between the US and Iran as the Americans accused Tehran of being behind the explosions that hit tankers, a Norwegian and a Japanese, without providing any evidence of these allegations. Iran responded by saying that the incident was planned by Washington to justify the sanctions and undermine the work of the Islamic Republic’s diplomats.
It’s not the first time the U.S. and Russia have clashed over their foreign policies toward the Middle East in recent years. Both sides have fought in an awkward coalition against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria with the U.S. having supported regime change in Syria while Russia propped up Syrian President Bashar Assad.