Why Putin's New Military Theme Park 'Does Pose a Danger to Us'
The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee says the new military-themed park in Russia is one example of how Moscow is a threat to the United States.
Russian President Vladimir Putin opened "Patriot Park" in Kubinka yesterday with an exhibition of wares offered by the country's arms dealers.
The Kremlin said Putin stressed "that Russian arms and military equipment remain in great demand on the global arms market and the arms order portfolio has been filled for years to come."
"The president also expressed confidence that the Patriot Congress and Exhibition Centre where the Forum is taking place will become a platform for demonstration of the latest arms and equipment. On display today there is a variety of military products, including small arms and armoured tanks, combat robots and control systems," the Kremlin statement continued. "The president toured the exposition. From an observation platform, he saw the latest samples of military equipment and arms on display outdoors, and then visited a number of pavilions that display, among other things, military uniform, high technology products and army information systems."
Visitors to the park can play with grenade launchers, eat military rations for lunch and buy Putin tchotchkes at the gift shop, the Guardian reported.
Putin said the theme park would be “an important element in our system of military-patriotic work with young people."
Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) told CNN "bizarre is a good word to use" for the theme park.
"But I think it would be a mistake to dismiss all of this," Thornberry said. "Putin has an approach which includes internal propaganda and also propaganda for the neighboring countries. So he is trying to rev up this nationalism, rev up this idea that they are defending the motherland. And that is so they will ignore the damage that he's doing to their country."
"So, you know, in some ways it's clever. But I'm not sure how long it will last. But it does pose a danger to us."
Russia's plans are about more than theme parks and games, as Putin announced this week the addition of 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles to Russia's stockpile.
"I think it's consistent with what Putin has done before. It's to try to escalate and intimidate us for standing with NATO allies. I think it's perfectly consistent," Thornberry said.
"The thing -- the only thing -- and Churchill said this back right after World War II, the thing that Russia respects the most is strength, particularly military strength. He has sensed weakness from the West. And he's going to keep pushing and making these gestures until he sees something different."
The chairman said defense cuts need to be reversed and "shoring up our allies all along Russia's border is very important."
"They are very nervous and they're wondering whether NATO and the United States will stand with them," Thornberry added. "So that reassurance so that we can stand together as an alliance against this sort of aggression, I think is one of the most useful things we can do."
White House press secretary Josh Earnest today called Putin's 40 ICBM announcement "saber rattling."
"What continues to be true is that saber rattling like this does nothing to deescalate conflict. And the United States has repeatedly stressed our commitment to the collective defense of our NATO allies. That is a commitment that we are willing to back up with action if necessary," Earnest said. "And that stands in pretty stark contrast to the saber rattling that we've seen from Mr. Putin."