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A senior US Defense Department official said on Tuesday that while Russia could break NATO defences in the Baltics in 60 hours or less, it will become much more difficult after 2017.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Carpenter confirmed arguments outlined in the RAND Corporation report, saying that Russian troops could reach the Estonian and Latvian capitals in only 60 hours or less after launching an attack.

Mr. Carpenter is quoted by weeklystandard.com as saying that the alliance does indeed struggle to increase defence capacity in eastern Europe and Russia has a favourable geographical position.

“Russia is really lucky regarding time and distance - if it would decide to strike against the Baltic states. <...> We invest in deployment of additional military forces and equipment: we want to be ready to deter Russian aggression,” said Mr Carpenter.

NATO is holding a summit in July, to be hosted by Warsaw, where leaders are expected to make decisions boosting NATO presence in Eastern Europe and the Baltic states.

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