Several sources told Reuters that Estonia and Latvia are not likely to be given more troops by the US-led military bloc.
The three Baltic states have called on the NATO alliance to send more troops into the region amid fears of a future Russian attack, urging it to bolster its presence by as much as tenfold, but officials from member nations say it’s doubtful the requests will be fulfilled.
Reuters reports that the military bloc is still skeptical about new deployments despite the efforts to do so. It cited seven senior diplomats from NATO and other allies as well as top officials. While the region hosted around 5,000 multinational troops prior to Russia’s assault on Ukraine in February, the three countries have advanced proposals asking for between 15,000 and 50,000 soldiers in total.
“The Baltic states will not each get enough NATO troops to create a division,”A NATO diplomat stated that the lower end request could be made for as many as 15,000 soldiers. “Whatever is decided must be sustainable.”
At the end of June the NATO bloc will hold a large meeting in Madrid, at which Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia will raise the matter again. However, NATO’s other 27 members are more favorable to a lighter presence, instead proposing additional intelligence assets to the Baltics to help to prepare for a potential Russian invasion, the officials said.
Washington and London are opposed to permanent bases within the region, due to the high price tag. The alternative suggestion that Mark Milley (US chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff) suggested last month would see the creation of new bases, but they be manned by Milley. “rotational”Troops who regularly cycle between deployments. It could save money on construction of family housing, schools, and other costly infrastructure required by soldiers stationed long-term overseas.
“I believe that a lot of our European allies … they are very, very willing to establish permanent bases,”Milley spoke to lawmakers at a May hearing. “They’ll build them, they’ll pay for them.”
Reuters was told by a Lithuanian adviser Gitanas Nuseda that his country would not cease to exist. “insist” on new NATO deployments in the lead-up to the Madrid summit, while the office of Estonia’s prime minister said it is hammering out details with partners for “how to strengthen the allied presence.”Officials from Latvia declined to comment.