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“You would reconcile if we were wiped out,” they feared for Balta. NATO has promised reinforcements

NATO’s previous strategic document from 2010 referred to Russia as a “strategic partner”. In this year’s edition, it is already “the most significant direct threat to the security of allies and to peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic region”.

The strengthening of the military presence on the Eastern flank of the Alliance will depend on this.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said NATO was carrying out “the biggest overhaul of our collective defense since the end of World War II.” Already before the beginning of the Alliance summit in Madrid, he announced that there will be an increase in the rapid deployment forces from 40 thousand to 300 thousand.

The Alliance now has eight so-called battlegroups at its disposal: in Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria. These will reinforce units from other alliance states. NATO wants to create units intended for deployment in specific regions, where they should also go regularly for exercises.

The current deployment of troops on NATO’s eastern flank.

According to Ondřej Ditrych, director of the Prague Institute of International Relations, the details of the announced increase have yet to be resolved. “For now, it seems that it should be about incorporating existing national troops stationed in their states into this force – and of course ensuring that they are adequately prepared so that they can be sent to where they are needed if needed. In other words, it’s not about transfers, it’s about redesignation, and in that respect it’s ambitious but not unrealistic,” explains the security policy expert.

The British want to spend 2.5 percent of GDP on defense

The presence of American troops is absolutely essential for the Allied forces in Europe. President Joe Biden specified at the summit that 100,000 US troops will remain in Europe, i.e. 20,000 more than before the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The US will also establish a permanent central command in Poland, send two additional squadrons of F-35 fighter jets to Britain, and anti-aircraft and other weapons to Germany and Italy. Further strengthening of defense capabilities is also planned for Romania and the Baltic states, without further details.

Great Britain also came up with a concrete plan, whose Minister of Defense Ben Wallace promised to send another thousand soldiers to Estonia, where today less than two thousand Britons are serving. In total, the number of soldiers serving in the three Baltic republics should increase by about five thousand.

According to The Guardian, Prime Minister Boris Johnson then promised to increase defense spending to 2.5% of GDP by the end of the decade. At the same time, NATO’s requirement is only two percent, but even that has not yet been met by some countries, including the Czech Republic.

In the British case, this will require additional budget costs of 10-13 billion pounds (about 290-377 billion crowns). But as the newspaper adds skeptically, the year 2030 is far away and Johnson does not have to be in office to fulfill his promises.

Czech Ambassador to NATO Jakub Landovský told Czech Radio that the Czechia will have four to six hundred soldiers in Slovakia. “Our units will continue to operate in the Baltic, where we have the presence of one platoon and one company, i.e. roughly 200 to 300 people in Lithuania and Latvia,” he added.

Thus, the North Atlantic Alliance also responds to the concerns of politicians in the Baltic states, which were recently expressed by Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas. She stated that the current doctrine reconciles itself with “wiping these states off the map” in the event that Russia attacks them. NATO’s response would not come until three months after the attack.

Russian threats to Lithuania

However, Stoltenberg disagrees: “We don’t share the details of the operational plans, but I can assure you that we have been able to protect the countries neighboring Russia for decades… we have done it before and we will do it again,” The Financial Times quoted him as saying.

“They were under Soviet rule for decades. They have a history of learning the hard way what it means to be occupied and attacked,” Stoltenberg said. “I understand that (Kallas) wants a greater NATO presence, and I can promise her … a greater presence.” He is said to have discussed exactly these topics with Kallas, as well as with the leaders of Latvia and Lithuania.

It was threats against the latter state by Russia that preceded the Madrid summit. Russia reacted angrily to the fact that Lithuania began to apply sanctions imposed by the European Union and restricted the transport of goods between Russia and its exclave – the Kaliningrad region.

At the summit in Madrid, the Alliance also officially invited Sweden and Finland. “The entry of Sweden and Finland will make them safer, NATO stronger and the Euro-Atlantic area safer,” Stoltenberg said at a press conference. The two countries will sign the accession protocols on Tuesday, and in the following months the expansion should be ratified by the parliaments of the member states.

It can be expected that after the entry of the Nordic states, the deployment of the alliance forces may also change: “This will depend on the nature of the measures taken by Moscow – how the ratio and nature of the forces deployed in this region will change from the current state. I assume that if Moscow does not respond to the membership itself with a greater degree of militarization or nuclear signaling, NATO’s side will rather try not to escalate tensions in the form of a permanent presence,” estimates political scientist Ditrych.

The war in Ukraine

Photo: Nadiiiya, Shutterstock.com

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