The Pentagon is deploying as much as 4,000 rotational ground troops into Poland and other Baltic countries in response to Russia’s increasing military activity along the border. This is in addition to the already agreed upon US armored brigade of 4,200 troops to Eastern Europe to be deployed in February.
Speaking with reporter en route from Washington to Stuttgart, Germany, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the 4,000 rotational ground forces is separate with what has already been agreed upon with NATO in June.
With how Russia is isolating itself from the West, the secretary said both US and NATO were left with no alternative but to also intensify its military involvement in the region.
“We have no alternative but to do what we’re doing, which is stand strong,” Carter said as quoted by The Associated Press via Business Insider.
Back in May 2002, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) established the NRC or NATO-Russia Council. This was meant to be a “mechanism consultation, consensus-building, cooperation, joint decision and joint action” between Russia and NATO member states.
The dialogue between these nations, however, stalled when Russian military decided to intervene in Ukraine illegally. Recently, the NRC called for a meeting, the first one it has had in almost two years.
Based on what NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is saying, it seems that Russia and other NATO members agreed to nothing during its recent meeting last April 20. Stoltenberg explained, ” NATO Allies and Russia hold very different views. But we have listened to what each of us have to say.”
It seemed that the meeting resulted in no agreements, but certain issues were raised including another incident between the U.S. and Russia in the Baltic just last week.
As previously reported by Morning News USA, a Russian jet fighter had performed a barrel roll over a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance plane as it flew over the Baltic Sea. In response to the incident that the Pentagon viewed as “unsafe and unprofessional,” the Russian defense ministry issued a statement saying, “The US Air Force has two solutions: either not to fly near our borders or to turn the transponder on for identification.
Just a few weeks before, Russian fighter jets also made several passes around the U.S. warship USS Donald Cook as it conducted some deck landing drills in international waters along the Baltic Sea.
Following this incident, the U.S. Navy said, “These actions have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries, and could result in a miscalculation or accident that could cause serious injury or death.”
Recently, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work met with representatives of Nordic states (including Baltic states) to discuss” deterrence, mainly in response to ongoing Russian provocation and aggression.”
At the same time, Work said that by the end of September 2017, the U.S. will ensure that is a full (military) division that would be “constantly in Europe.” This would include a Stryker brigade combat team in Germany, an airborne combat team in Italy as well as an armored brigade team stationed on the continent 24 hours a day for throughout the year. This army combat team is known as a “deployable maneuver unit” that is made up of 4,000 to 5,000 troops.
To support such military presence, Pentagon also says it will also ready “pre-positioned sets of warfighting equipment” while making sure that those in Norway “are filled up and exercised.”
On the other hand, The Wall Street Journal reported that Germany is taking a cautious stance with regard to increasing its troop presence along the eastern border of NATO.
Earlier this year, the White House pledged a funding level of $3.4 billion to the European Reassurance Initiative (ERI). This is in support of the US Article 5 commitments to NATO members in the face of Russian aggression. Article 5 states that ” an attack on one ally is considered as an attack on all.”
As for the NRC, Stoltenberg says ” NATO Allies remain firm that there can be no return to practical cooperation until Russia returns to the respect of international law. But we will keep channels of communication open”.