NATO announces major new deployment
NATO members will order more fleets and fighter planes into Eastern Europe amid a worsening standoff with Russia, with the bloc citing reports that Moscow is building up troops on its side of the Ukrainian border.
In a statement issued on Monday, the US-led military faction’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that he welcomed the commitment of “additional forces to NATO,” vowing that he will “continue to take all necessary measures to protect and defend all Allies, including by reinforcing the eastern part of the” bloc.
According to his comments, a handful of member states have made announcements that they will step up their current or upcoming deployments, including Denmark, which is sending a frigate to the Baltic Sea and four fighter jets to Lithuania “in support of NATO’s long-standing air-policing mission in the region.”
Spain and France are focusing on southeastern Europe, with Madrid reportedly contemplating dispatching ships to “join NATO naval forces and is considering sending fighter jets to Bulgaria.” Meanwhile, Paris “has expressed its readiness to send troops to Romania under NATO command.”
At the same time, Washington “has also made clear that it is considering increasing its military presence in the eastern part of the Alliance,” the statement said. The move aims to reinforce allied deterrence and defense as Russia allegedly “continues its military build-up” near Ukraine.
The announcement comes as Moscow is seeking a written response on its security proposals from American officials, following a series of diplomatic meetings this month which the Kremlin says were intended to reduce the risk of conflict. Last Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with his American counterpart Antony Blinken to discuss tensions on the European continent, and determine whether the two sides could do a deal to prevent escalation.
Last month, Russia handed over two draft treaties, one addressed to Washington and the other to NATO. As well as barring Ukraine from NATO membership, Moscow is insisting that the bloc should refrain from military activity on the territory of the former Warsaw Pact states that joined after 1997, following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Lavrov had sounded the alarm in November, stating that “significant units and armaments from NATO countries, including American and British, are being moved closer to our borders.”
However, Stoltenberg has criticized Moscow’s requests, saying that the country has no veto on Ukraine’s efforts to join the bloc, and that it will not accept a “two-tier” membership system that prevents it from deploying troops in certain states.
Western leaders and media outlets have issued several warnings in recent weeks that Moscow’s troops could soon launch an invasion of Ukraine, claims which Moscow has repeatedly rejected. Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov has blasted reports alleging Russia’s armed forces are massing at the shared frontier as a precursor to staging an offensive, describing them as “hysteria” being whipped up in the press.