Sunday

20th Aug 2017

Thousands of Nato soldiers go to Baltic states, Romania

  • American soldier in Afghanistan - the US is to lead the Polish battalion and to send troops to Romania (Photo: The US Army)

Most Nato allies have committed troops to a Russia-deterrent force in the Baltic region. Six of them have also pledged troops to a similar force in Romania.

Nato head Jens Stoltenberg announced the decisions after a Nato defence ministers’ meeting in Brussels on Wednesday (26 October).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Putin put on a show in Ukraine's Crimea peninsula as Nato ministers met in Brussels (Photo: kremlin.ru)

Canada is to lead one of four Nato battalions to be stationed in the Baltic states and in Poland from early next year.

It will send 400 soldiers to Latvia. They will be joined by 150 troops from Italy and a further 450 or so from Albania, Italy, Poland, and Slovenia.

Germany is to lead the Nato battalion in Lithuania, with up to 600 soldiers, joined by another 400 from Belgium, Croatia, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Norway.

The UK is taking charge of the Estonia force, with some 800 soldiers, Challenger 2 tanks, Stryker armoured vehicles, and surveillance drones, alongside soldiers from Denmark and France.

The US is to lead the Polish force, with some 900 soldiers, as well as with pre-positioned tanks and artillery, alongside extra British and Romanian troops.

Black Sea brigade

Stoltenberg said Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Turkey, the UK, and the US are also sending troops to a new Nato "brigade" in Romania.

A brigade normally amounts to 5,000 troops or more.

Romania became a target of Russian sabre-rattling after it agreed to host part of a Nato anti-missile shield.

The UK will also station Typhoon warplanes in southern Romania to take part in Nato air-policing missions.

The US already has troops at the same airbase and its warships already call at Romanian ports as part of Black Sea operations.

“Our forces will be truly multinational, sending an unmistakable message: Nato stands as one. An attack on any ally will be considered an attack on us all”, Stoltenberg said.

“They will be robust, they will be multinational, and they will be combat ready”, he said.

The US defence chief, Ash Carter, said the Baltic and Black Sea deployments are “a major sign of the US commitment to strengthening deterrence here”.

Stoltenberg said the measures were justified by Russia’s build-up of troops on Nato borders - believed to number more than 330,000.

He also cited Russia's snap exercises, some of which have rehearsed invasions of the Baltic states and of Poland, and its aggressive behaviour in Ukraine as justification.

He noted that Russia recently stationed nuclear-capable missiles in Kaliningrad and tore up a US treaty on plutonium disposals.

Russian moves

“These moves do not lower tensions,” he said.

Russia is also planning to deploy five warships, some of which can carry nuclear missiles, in the Baltic Sea, according to Russian sources quoted by the Interfax news agency.

"This is ... worrying," Sweden’s defence minister Peter Hultqvist said.

The Polish defence minister, Antoni Macierewicz, said: “Moving such ships into the Baltic changes the balance of power”.

Russia, at the same time as the Nato meeting, sailed warships past France, Spain, and the UK to join its forces in Syria.

The ships had been due to refuel in a Spanish port.

Some Nato allies had criticised the move, saying Spain should not help Russia due to Russia's air strikes on civilians in the city of Aleppo in Syria.

Russia later claimed it had never asked Spain for help and that its ships would not call there.

Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, on Wednesday also visited Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine two years ago. He promised that a new bridge would connect the peninsula to the Russian mainland in 2018.

Putinism

Speaking to Russia’s Izvestia news agency, Alexander Vershbow, Nato's deputy head, said the West had tried to build "closer" relations with Russia after the Cold War.

"Now, however, I think … it is important for the system of power in Russia, for president Putin, to portray Nato as an enemy”, he said.

He said Russia's actions in Syria were due to “Putin's misinterpretation that the West has some kind of a grand strategy for regime change” there.

He added that EU and Nato expansion in Europe had “created a network of stable democratic states along Russia's periphery” and that “the real instability facing Russia is in the south [from Middle East conflicts], not in the west”.

The US is holding talks with Russia on a potential Syria ceasefire.

Stoltenberg said Nato states’ ambassadors were also keen to talk to Russia’s envoy in a meeting of the Russia-Nato Council “in the near future”.

“Dialogue is even more important when tensions run high”, he said.

Romanian social democrats set for return to power

The party, which was forced out only a year ago amid widespread claims of corruption, emerged as the winner in Sunday's general election after campaigning to reduce taxes and increase social spending.

News in Brief

  1. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  2. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  3. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  4. European Union returns to 2 percent growth
  5. Russian power most feared in Europe
  6. Ireland continues to refuse €13 billion in back taxes from Apple
  7. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  8. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  2. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  3. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  5. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  7. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  8. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  10. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  11. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  12. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  2. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  3. Martens CentreWeeding Out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  5. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Ep. 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  6. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  7. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  8. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  9. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School
  10. EPSUEP Support for Corporate Tax Transparency Principle Unlikely to Pass Reality Check
  11. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament Improves the External Investment Plan but Significant Challenges Ahead
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCloser Energy Co-Operation Keeps Nordic Region on Top in Green Energy