The deployment of U.S. tanks and fighting vehicles to Central and Eastern Europe is a proportionate response to Russia's aggressive actions toward the Baltic states and NATO as a whole, the alliance's Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller told BNS during a visit to Lithuania.
Gottemoeller said in an interview with BNS that NATO was concerned about the continued build-up of Russian forces and Moscow's actions in Ukraine, but it did not see an immediate threat for its member states.
According to the deputy secretary general, there was no plan for U.S. armor to return to Europe prior to Russia's seizure of Crime and threatening behavior toward the Baltic states and NATO as a whole.
"I do want to emphasize that it is proportionate and measured, because I've seen some of the Russian reporting that this is a hurried operation, that this is somehow also bringing a lot of armor back to Europe, but in truth it's 3,500 personnel, 87 tanks and 144 Bradley fighting vehicles," she said regarding the recent military buildup in Europe.
NATO has "some interest in dialogue in terms of seeking reassurance from the Russians about what they are doing, seeking information from them about what they are doing," Gottemoeller commented.
"There is a mutual aspect to this," she continued. "Russia says they are concerned about what NATO is doing, so we should be able to brief each other in that context about our activities as well, whether it is Operation Atlantic Resolve or what is going on in the European Reassurance Initiative."
The deputy secretary general found that these were all legitimate possibilities for future dialogue, "...but we in NATO need to be very clear-eyed about our own interest in this regard, and I think the core interest we have is to reduce risks such as we've seen in the Baltic region with airspace incidents — those types of things. We want to reduce risks so that we do not have the possibility of a crisis emerging that could possibly escalate into conflict. Nobody wants that; it's not in anybody's interest."
Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla