This Wednesday, Britain announced that it will be sending fighter jets to the Eastern European country of Romania next year. Similarly, the United States promised it will send troops, tanks as well as artillery to Poland. This is an effort on the part of NATO that has not been seen in a while. It is happening in response to Russia’s repeated actions that have not ceased despite warnings. Still, it is the largest build-up of military forces this close to Russian borders since the end of the Cold War. Although analysts warn of a new Cold War with Russia, NATO says these decisions are simply a response.
NATO Defense Ministers Meeting
This Wednesday there was a meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels. Defense ministers of NATO countries talked about key issues and one of the topics on the table were the mounting tensions with Russia. That very same day, as if to exemplify, two warships belonging to Russia entered the Baltic Sea somewhere between Sweden and Denmark. The Russian warships had cruise missiles. This is just one instance of Russia making maneuvers in the Baltic area. Recently, Russian jets entered the airspace of Finland and Estonia. The moves by Russia are making regional countries uneasy to say the least. This has also given NATO command reason to take things more seriously.
At the defense ministers meeting this Wednesday, Britain and the United States were not the only ones offering support to Eastern countries. Germany, Canada as well as other NATO allies pledged to contribute forces.
Spain had its own recent encounter with Russia, as three Russian warships were supposed to refuel in Spanish territory. The refueling was going to take place in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in North Africa. NATO allies warned that there was a possibility that the warships would be used for targeting civilians in Syria. After the warning, Russia withdrew its request to refuel. The three warships were part of a group of eight ships that included Russian aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov. The battle group is on its way to join 10 other Russian ships that are already close to Syria’s coastline.
A Measured Response
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called the move to have troops in the Baltic region and Eastern Europe a measured response. According to NATO information, Russia has about 330,000 troops on its western flank. Also, Russia has moved some of its military capability to Kaliningrad, close to the border with Poland.
“This month alone, Russia has deployed nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad and suspended a weapons-grade plutonium agreement with the United States.”
Said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
The aim of the build-up of military forces is to act as a deterrent to Russia. This July, NATO leaders made a promise to former Soviet states to protect them from Russia. Countries in the region have had reason to be nervous since Moscow carried out the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
As part of NATO’s effort, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said that the United States are going to contribute with forces.
“It’s a major sign of the U.S. commitment to strengthening deterrence here.”
Said U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.
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