The world’s only superpower, which already maintains a military presence in 140 countries, said it was expanding its empire because of “increased threats” in the post September 11 world.
A senior US official told Moscow on Wednesday he hoped Russia would not take the news as an aggressive act.
The message was delivered by Marc Grossman, the US undersecretary of state for political affairs, to the Russian foreign ministry and top officials in the country’s security services.
However, Grossman refused to divulge Russian officials’ response to the US push.
Poland and Azerbaijan
He also refused to confirm that Poland and Azerbaijan were the two most likely destinations where Washington planned to open bases in coming years.
“We briefed the Russian side on our thinking and we tried to emphasise that everything that we are doing is designed in a way that will meet our treaty commitments, that will meet our political commitments, and is not directed against any country,” Grossman said.
US MILTARY FACTS
– $379 billion yearly defence budget
– 247,000 troops and civilians posted overseas
– 13 military bases in countries around Afghanistan
– A fleet of more than 15,000 aircraft
– Navy operates more than 1000 ocean going vessels
“I want to be clear here though, that what has been decided is that we need to make change.”
Grossman added that the idea of a US eastward push was formalised by US President George Bush on Monday, and that he was sent to Moscow for urgent negotiations as a result.
“I think there is recognition on their side there are new threats, there is a recognition there are new opportunities to meet those new threats, and also I hope, there is a recognition that we would like Russia to be a partner in this.
“I felt… that this old way of thinking, that the Cold War is over, was very much welcomed by the Russian side.”
Although America’s military presence is global, it only has significant deployments in 25 countries.
In January 2002, the US opened its first military base in the former Soviet Union, when the Kyrgyz government granted it permission to build the Manas military airfield.
The US also has the use of military bases in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Georgia.
Russia is worried about losing influence over its former empire and has recently opened a new airbase of its own less than 30 km from the Kyrgyz Manas base.