As things stand now, NATO would be unable to protect the Baltics against a Russian attack, the commander of US ground forces in Europe, General Ben Hodges, said in a news report on Wednesday.

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© Scanpix

Russia's military could overrun the Baltic states before the NATO alliance could respond, according to Lt. Gen. Hodges.

"Russia could capture the Baltic states quicker than we could get there to defend them," he was quoted as saying by German weekly Die Zeit.

The general said he agreed with an assessment by military analysts that says Russian forces could conquer the capitals of Baltic states Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia within 36 to 60 hours.

Hodges also said NATO forces had found numerous deficiencies during the recent "Anaconda" military exercise in Poland, according to the article from Thursday's edition of Die Zeit quoted by AFP.

Heavy military equipment could not be moved fast enough from western to eastern Europe, he said, while also voicing concern about the alliance's communication technology.

Ben Hodges
Ben Hodges
© DELFI / Domantas Pipas

"Neither radio communication nor email are secure," he was quoted as saying. "I assume that everything I write on my BlackBerry is being monitored."

NATO member states are due to meet in Warsaw in July to discuss Russia's assertiveness, among other issues. NATO announced last week that it would deploy four battalions to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

Russia has criticized the ongoing exercise in Poland, saying that the presence of the alliance's troops close to its borders is a threat to its security.

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