The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania still have fresh memories of being part of the Soviet Union and the oppression that entailed. They see with wide open eyes what is happening in Ukraine, Georgia, and other former Soviet territories and are scared Russia would like to take a bite of them as well. For this reason, these countries, along with Poland, have been screaming for an increased NATO presence to deter their perceived threat from Russia.
Recent NATO war games confirmed that Russia could overrun the Baltic nations within three days. Russian president Vladimir Putin boasted the Russian army could be in Kyiv in three days. NATO seems to be worried as well and has finalized plans for a 4,000 NATO troop presence on a semi-permanent basis in the Baltics.
This force would be comprised of multinational battalions including the 1,000 troops the U.K. has already committed. NATO is also prepositioning armor in the region. President Obama previously removed all American armor from Europe. That is also changing.
“This will send a clear signal that NATO stands ready to defend any ally. We are constantly assessing how we can make sure that our presence in the Baltic region is the best possible presence and we are also at this meeting actually going to take decision which is increasing our presence in the Baltic region with more forward presence of NATO troops. We will have a robust battalion, multinational battalion in each of the (four) Baltic countries. There can be no doubt that what we have done is a response to the actions of Russia in Crimea and in Ukraine. Because before the illegal annexation of Crimea, and before Russia’s destabilising policies towards eastern Ukraine, there was no one talking about any military presence in the kind we now will have,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Russia has vowed to respond to the NATO force buildup. It will be interesting to see what this ‘response’ really means.
Originally posted at the Washington Times