Less than a week after US landed massive troops and weapons, first in Germany and then in Poland, Russia has begun setting up an anti-aircraft missile system to guard the skies above Moscow, setting the stage for further escalation of tension between global powers.
Experts have already begun to express fears that the situation, if allowed to continue, might lead to a major conflict at the global stage.
Russia’s defence ministry confirmed that S-400 ‘Growler’ missile systems had been deployed around Moscow, the Independent reported on Thursday.
Tensions escalated even in Asia, as President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state set the stage for a potential showdown with China over the South China Sea, saying that China should be denied access to the artificial islands it has built in the disputed waters.
Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of oil giant ExxonMobil, told his confirmation hearing on Wednesday that China’s activity in the waters, which see $5 trillion in ship-borne trade a year, was “extremely worrisome,” reports CNN.
The comments during Tillerson’s day-long testimony before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee look set to inflame tensions with China, which claims much of the South China Sea as an integral part of its territory.
“Building islands and then putting military assets on those islands is akin to Russia’s taking of Crimea. Its taking of territory that others lay claim to,” Tillerson said.
“We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that first, the island-building stops, and second, your access to those islands also not going to be allowed.”
Tillerson blamed the Obama administration saying it had neglected to tackle the problem, saying the “failure of a response has allowed them to just keep pushing the envelope on this.”
The S-400 deployed by Russia is the country’s most advanced surface-to-air missile system and can hit a target 250 miles away. The weapon has been sent to the city of Podolsk, 15 miles south of Moscow, local media reported.
“The combat crews of the Aerospace Forces’ Moscow Region air defence formation’s surface-to-air missile regiment, which received the new regimental set of the S-400 anti-aircraft missile system, have begun air defence combat duty on Wednesday, January 11, in Moscow and Russia’s central industrial region,” the defence ministry said.
The defence ministry said the S-400 was designed to protect critical state infrastructure – such as bridges, power stations and rail lines – from “enemy air attacks,” without elaborating on who the enemy was.
Earlier, while commenting on the Syrian conflict, the Turkish deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus had gone on record saying, “If this proxy war continues, after this, let me be clear, America and Russia will come to a point of war.”
Kurtulmus suggested that the Syrian conflict could be the beginning of World War Three, saying it had put the world “on the brink of the beginning of a large regional or global war.”
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