For years, Russian-Chinese naval exercises have been staged closer and closer to potential conflict zones while the training scenarios have become increasingly realistic.

In 2015, the countries ran war games in the Eastern Mediterranean, not far from Syria. In 2016 the joint exercise was held in the South China Sea, where China is locked in territorial disputes.

Russia and China’s Joint Sea-2017 exercise, which took place on the main stage of the current Russia-NATO military standoff, in the Baltic Sea this week was no exception.

NATO’s military buildup in Eastern Europe is based on the theory that Russia may have the capability and the intention of attacking the Baltic states and possibly Poland.

This theory is of purely political design, necessary to create a united U.S.-EU front against Russia on a number of political economic issues. In reality, even the USSR took NATO Charter Chapter 5 obligations very seriously and would not dare to invade a NATO member.

Russia, compared to the Soviet Union, is even more serious about that and this is the reason why Russia is dedicated to opposing NATO enlargement.

In this new reality, the United States needs to distribute its limited military resources between several parts of the world. It is tasked with containing Russia, China and Iran at the same time. It is also deterring North Korea, fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The United States’ political investment in the Russian threat theory is making the Baltic region more relevant to Washington’s adversaries around the world.

Basically, in the current situation, Russia has the power to have any desired number of the U.S. troops bogged down in Eastern Europe doing nothing at any given moment.

Russia just needs to publish some strong-worded political statements and hold large exercises — like the upcoming West-2017 planned for September.