A Senior Russian lawmaker has claimed that the United States is “taking advantage” of tensions in the Persian Gulf in order to deploy more troops to the region.
“It is already clear who will be the first to take advantage of the escalated situation in the Strait of Hormuz and in the Middle East in general: The Pentagon has just approved the transfer of troops to Saudi Arabia," Russian senator Konstantin Kosachev said in a post on Facebook.
The Trump administration is reinforcing its controversial military relationship with Saudi Arabia by preparing to send hundreds of troops to the country amid increasing tensions with Iran, CNN learned Wednesday.
Five hundred troops are expected to go to the Prince Sultan Air Base, located in a desert area east of the Saudi capital of Riyadh, according to US two defense officials. A small number of troops and support personnel are already on site with initial preparations being made for a Patriot missile defense battery as well as runway and airfield improvements, the officials said.
The US has wanted to base troops there for some time because security assessments have shown Iranian missiles would have a difficult time targeting the remote area.
The decision comes as US and Saudi relations remain extremely sensitive amid bipartisan congressional anger how the administration handled the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
But the Trump administration has said it is committed to trying to help protect Saudi Arabia against Iranian aggression.
"Neither Iran nor the United States, by and large, are interested in a real war," Kosachev wrote. "However, the ‘game of nerves’ and the raising of stakes will continue."