WARSAW, Poland — NATO leaders agreed to deploy four multinational battalions to Poland and the three Baltic States in a bid to show the alliance’s readiness to contain an increasingly bellicose Russia. The plan was agreed July 8 at the summit in Poland’s capital Warsaw.
NATO will deploy troops to Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia with the aim to strengthen the alliance’s military presence on its eastern flank.
"We have decided to enhance our military presence in the eastern part of the alliance with four battalions here in Poland, as well as in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on a rotational basis," Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary-general, said at a press conference here on July 8. "These battalions will be robust and multinational to demonstrate the strength of the Atlantic bond."
The announcement confirms an earlier announcement by Stoltenberg who said at a press conference in Brussels on June 13 that NATO will deploy about 4,000 troops to the designed battalions.
Under the alliance’s strategy, Canada will be the framework nation for Latvia, Germany will perform this role for Lithuania, the UK will be Estonia’s framework nation, and the US will serve in this capacity for Poland, Stoltenberg said.
The secretary-general said that the alliance is seeking a constructive dialog with Moscow. A meeting of the NATO-Russia Council is scheduled to be held at the ambassadorial level in Brussels on July 13.
"Russia should not, and cannot be isolated," Stoltenberg said.
The decision comes amid increased concern by NATO’s Eastern European countries over Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and the subsequent annexation of the Ukrainian Crimean peninsula. As a result, a number of political leaders from the region have called on the alliance to deploy additional troops to Eastern Europe as a safeguard against Russia’s potential aggression.
At the Warsaw Summit Experts’ Forum, an event accompanying the summit on July 8, some of these concerns were voiced by Polish President Andrzej Duda who said that the "annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbas, terrorism and mass migrations have shattered our perception of the system’s stability."
"This is why NATO must show unity and solidarity," Duda said.