According to the Washington Post, some 20,000 troops will be sent to each of these three countries in the event of an attack.
The Washington Post reports that Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia are seeking to increase NATO’s presence in Eastern Europe in the midst of the conflict in Ukraine. This was based on a proposal from the three countries. According to Washington Post, a division-sized force with around 20,000 soldiers should be available for rapid deployment to any nation in case of threat.
Baltic countries cite Moscow’s potential threat as the reason behind their buildup. “Russia can rapidly mass military forces against NATO’s eastern border and confront the Alliance with a short war and fait accompli,”According to the document, it states: “Russia’s direct military aggression against NATO allies cannot be excluded.”
The proposal involves increasing the military bloc’s presence in each of the three nations to 6,000 troops, up from 2,000 that were stationed there before the start of the Russian military operation in Ukraine in February. Additional troops in the thousands, “enabler” units that would provide air defense and other forms of protection are to be on standby elsewhere to come to the nations’ aid in case of a crisis.
If approved by the military bloc, the Baltic States will be able to host NATO equipment sufficient for an entire 20,000-strong unit of troops.
According to the Washington Post, other NATO member countries appear divided over the idea of increasing military deployments. Although Poland is listed as a supporter of the proposal, the Washington Post reports that France and Italy also doubt the Russian threat. The issue was on the agenda of the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in Berlin over the weekend and the diplomats have so far only agreed to discuss it further.
Poland now hosts more than 10,000 US soldiers, up from the 4,500 troops before the Russian offensive. The US has also increased its presence in Europe from 60,000 to more than 100,000 troops in response to Moscow’s actions. According to the newspaper, however, most of these soldiers live in barracks that are not suitable for long-term deployments.
French President Emmanuel Macron maintained that European nations would have to collaborate with Russia when conflict ends. “We will have a peace to build tomorrow,”Macron stated to reporters last week that he would add later. “we are not at war with Russia.”
Other nations in western Europe believe that an increased presence on NATO’s eastern flank would draw attention from other threats like terrorism or illegal migration, which is a pressing concern for nations like Italy and Spain.
“We don’t see that the war in Ukraine is something that should bring the needle back to just the defense and deterrence of Russia,”An unnamed official from Western Europe told The Washington Post.
The outlet reported that several Eastern European states are also asking NATO for an official withdrawal from the 1997 Founding Act between Russia’s military bloc and NATO, which restrains NATO permanent deployments eastward. It is a controversial idea that the US and allies in Western Europe have rejected. They argue it provides a framework for possible dialogue between Moscow, NATO and other countries.
Poland and the Baltic States believe that they must act quickly as support for military deployments could diminish if there is a conflict in Ukraine.
“As soon as it’s over many of our partners in Western Europe will be quite eager to return to the status quo ante. Some of the declarations and the general spirit that we see right now might just disappear,”Washington Post, speaking under condition of anonymity
“We wouldn’t like that because we believe we’ve seen a tectonic shift” in other NATO nation’s attitude to the military bloc’s security, the official added.
According to the Washington Post, a decision about the proposal will be taken at the NATO summit scheduled for Madrid in June. The meeting will also see states taking a preliminary decision on Finland and Sweden’s membership bids.