NATO is now fully committed in its role to providing an ‘enhance forward presence’ to deter any Russian aggression. As a result four battle groups have taken up strategic deployments in Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
The US has also stepped up its presence in Eastern Europe by committing more troops and armour to the region. Yesterday President Trump made it clear that the US attitude towards NATO has strengthened, Mr Trump said at the G20 visit “To those who would criticise our tough stance, I would point out that the United States has demonstrated – not merely with its words but with its actions – that we stand firmly behind Article 5, the mutual defence commitment.”
“Words are easy, but actions are what matters. And for its own protection, Europe – and you know this, everybody knows this, everybody has to know this – Europe must do more.”
Speaking in Poland, a country that was under Soviet control for many years until it fell and became independent in 1989, NATO fears that these Former Union states could be taken back under Russian control similar to the annexation of Crimea.
Defence experts feel that if Moscow can quite easily move into Ukraine and take chunks of territory, then what is stopping them from moving into its former Baltic states, add that to the fact Russia is also increasing its defence spending by 5.9 percent to $69.2 billion, making it the third largest spender at 4.1 percent, overtaking Saudi Arabia, which dropped to fourth position in 2016.
General Petr Pavel, chairman of the NATO Military Committee, told Politico’s Brussels Playbook that it is unclear what the Kremlin’s intentions are, but their steps to increase military prowess is clear.
“When it comes to capability there is no doubt that Russia is developing their capabilities both in conventional and nuclear components. When it comes to exercises, their ability to deploy troops for long distance and to use them effectively quite far away from their own territory, there are no doubts,” Pavel told the newspaper during a breakfast event.
“When it comes to intent, it’s not so clear because we cannot clearly say that Russia has aggressive intents against NATO,” he added.
The general said the allies must be prepared to confront “any potential threat that would mirror the situation we know from Crimea, from eastern Ukraine,” adding that they would not stand for such actions to be “repeated against any NATO ally.”
Russia has argued that its increase of budget and military equipment is a direct act of self defence against aggressive posturing from the US and NATO, however despite Russia’s increase, NATO’s collective defence spending more than surpasses it with $254 Billion even without US and Canada, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.