This was stated by United States Army Europe Commander, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, Yevropeiska Pravda reports citing Breaking Defense.
"Ukraine is only a symptom of what's going on. Russia believes that they're entitled to a sphere where they can dictate what countries do," Hodges said.
According to him, that sphere encompasses new bases in the Arctic, a new base in Belarus, Russian advisors and weapons in separatist-held Ukraine, and Russian regulars on territories claimed by both Moldova (Transnistria) and Georgia (Abkhazia and South Ossetia). A Russian official even made a nuclear threat against little Denmark.
He recalled that former territories of the Russian Empire - Finland, Poland, the Baltic States - are particularly worried about Russia's activity.
"If you have had your nation disappear off the map because of Russia, I think you're entitled to a little bit of concern of it happening again," Hodges said.
He stressed that NATO countries should increase a deterrent force, conduct regular exercises, as the Russians build up the military.
"In order to deter a situation where they might decide to deny access, launch a snap exercise, and Little Green Men (Russian special forces - ed.) start appearing in Latvia, for example, or they start to seal off the gap (of Polish and Lithuanian territory - ed.) between Kaliningrad and Belarus, we've got to already be there," Hodges said.