NATO faces a Russian security challenge that it had hopped had ended with the conclusion of the Cold War. In a significant move to deter possible Russian aggression in Europe, the Pentagon is poised to store battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and other heavy weapons for as many as 5,000 American troops in several Baltic and Eastern European countries, American and allied officials say.
It would be the most prominent of a series of moves the United States and NATO have taken to bolster forces in the region and send a clear message of resolve to allies and to Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, that the United States would defend the alliance’s members closest to the Russian frontier.
The proposal, if approved by Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter and the White House, would represent the first time since the end of the Cold War that the United States has stationed heavy military equipment in the newer NATO member nations in Eastern Europe that had once been part of the Soviet sphere of influence.
Senior officials briefed on the proposals, who described the internal military planning on the condition of anonymity, said that they expected approval to come before the NATO defense ministers’ meeting in Brussels this month.
After the expansion of NATO to include the Baltic nations in 2004, the United States and its allies avoided the permanent stationing of equipment or troops in the east as they sought varying forms of partnership with Russia.
“It’s like taking NATO back to the future,” said Julianne Smith, a former defense and White House official who is now a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and a vice president at the consulting firm Beacon Global Strategies.
Europe has invested heavily over several decades in developing a framework of rules, procedures and institutions for conflict prevention and crisis management. The incorporation of Crimea into Russia without the consent of the Ukrainian authorities was a major challenge to the European security order.
The Alliance´s security holiday is over. NATO needs to take prudent steps to bolster its deterrent and defence capabillities in the Baltic region to ensure regional security.
Source: NYTimes 13/06/2015 – U.S. Poised to Put Heavy Weaponry in East Europe.