NATO considers sending battalion size units to Baltics, Poland

NATO exercise in Poland, spring 2015 (Reuters/Scanpix)
10/29/2015 4:35 PM
Category: Defense

NATO allies are discussing stationing more troops in Eastern Europe to deter Moscow in wake of aggression in Ukraine, the Wall Street Journal reports.

WSJ interviewed several diplomats and military officers, according to whom NATO is still considering sending 4,000 troops to countries bordering Russia, including Estonia, in an unprecedented move.

One plan would see battalions of 800 to 1,000 troops deployed to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, while an alternative plan foresees a single battalion deployed to the entire region.

Steven Pfifer, a former US Ambassador to Ukraine and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told WSJ that 800-1,000 troops sends a strong signal to Russians “that NATO is serious: it will defend NATO territory.”

"I wouldn't put an armored brigade in Eastern Estonia. I think that would be very provocative. But you could do other types of forces that would really not have the capability to head off and take St Petersburg," Pfifer added.

Estonia currently hosts 500 foreign soldiers, with troops mostly deployed by the US and the UK. NATO has also created local tactical headquarters in the region and allies frequently visit Estonia for training purposes.

The three Baltic states and Poland have repeatedly called for stronger NATO presence in Eastern Europe, requesting battalion-sized units to be permanently stationed in each country on a rotational basis.

The UK's decision to send a small military contingent to all Baltic states provoked a strong, if expected, reaction from Kremlin, which immediately said it will be ''forced to respond.''

M. Oll

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