Date
10 December 2016
Jens Stoltenberg says the commitments by NATO members will be "a clear demonstration of our transatlantic bond". Photo: Reuters
Jens Stoltenberg says the commitments by NATO members will be "a clear demonstration of our transatlantic bond". Photo: Reuters

NATO plans eastern build-up to deter Russia

NATO will ask member countries to contribute to its biggest military build-up on Russia’s border since the Cold War.

The move comes as the alliance prepares for a protracted dispute with Moscow, Reuters reports.

With Russia’s aircraft carrier heading to Syria in a show of force along Europe’s shores, NATO defense ministers aim to make good on a July promise by leaders to send forces to the Baltic states and eastern Poland from early next year.

The United States hopes for binding commitments from Europe to fill four battle groups of some 4,000 troops, part of NATO’s response to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and concern it could try a similar tactic in Europe’s ex-Soviet states.

France, Denmark, Italy and other allies are expected to join the four battle groups led by the United States, Germany, Britain and Canada to go to Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, with forces ranging from armored infantry to drones, according to Reuters.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the commitments would be “a clear demonstration of our transatlantic bond”.

Diplomats said it would also send a message to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has complained that European allies do not pay their way in the alliance.

The battle groups will be backed by NATO’s 40,000-strong rapid-reaction force, and if need be, further follow-on forces, for any potential conflict, which could move into Baltic states and Poland on rotation.

The strategy is part of an emerging new deterrent that could eventually be combined with missile defenses, air patrols and defenses against cyber attacks.

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