Leader comment: Forget Trump’s Twitter feed and focus on real risks

American soldiers are pictured during a welcome ceremony at the Polish-German border in Olszyna, Poland deployed under Operation Atlantic Resolve. Picture: PA
American soldiers are pictured during a welcome ceremony at the Polish-German border in Olszyna, Poland deployed under Operation Atlantic Resolve. Picture: PA
Have your say

All the attention on the United States this week has been on Donald Trump and what the Russians may or may not have got concerning embarrassing material about his business or sex life. It’s a good story and it is no wonder it dominates the headlines.

But actually this week there have been much more serious global developments with US involvement which the personality of Mr Trump has eclipsed, but it is best that they do not go unnoticed.

The first was the biggest deployment of US troops in Europe since the end of the cold war. The first one thousand troops of a promised four thousand were deployed to Poland as President Barack Obama’s response to the nervousness of central European states in the face of Russian aggression, namely its action in Ukraine and the Crimea. This is the first time US troops have been permanently stationed along Russia’s western border.

More than 80 main battle tanks and hundreds of armoured vehicles have already arrived in Germany and are being moved into eastern Europe by road and rail and today there will be a formal ceremony to welcome the forces.

The Kremlin has hit out at the deployment, branding the arrival of troops and tanks in Poland as a threat to Russia’s security.

Last October Russia sent nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to the Polish border and in December it deployed Bastion anti-ship missile launchers to the Baltic.

What we are seeing here is an old-fashioned arms build up. Never a settling occurrence.But it is not the only part of the world where Russia and the US are squaring up to each other, and in the other scenario Russia has a powerful partner – China. The Asian economic powerhouse has also said US actions in the region are a threat to its national security.

Last week saw China sending its only aircraft carrier into the Taiwan Strait, which was seen as a provocative move amid tensions between Beijing and the country it claims is rightly its province, Taiwan.

China is also deeply unhappy about a plan by the US and South Korea to deploy an advanced missile defence system, ostensibly a defence against any missiles fired from North Korea.

Representatives from Beijing and Moscow met last week and it was reported they had agreed to take “further counter-measures” in response to the plan. We don’t know what those counter measures will be but it was said they had a range of economic, military and diplomatic options at their disposal.

Meanwhile Mr Trump is already heightening tensions in the region, first with his decision to break diplomatic protocol and call Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-Wen, and then his secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson saying the US should deny Beijing access to new islands it has built in the much disputed waters of the South China Seas.

Chinese newspapers carried editorials saying such US action would result in war.

It is clear we should not be distracted by Mr Trump’s Twitter feed and instead concentrate on the bigger, and more worrying, picture.