During NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg’s recent visit to Poland, Polish Minister of Defense Antoni Macierewicz announced that NATO would station four battalions in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia on a rotating basis, Newsday reports.
The multi-national battalions will be comprised of between 300-800 soldiers each.
The Baltics have long been an area of concern for the alliance, as several generals and military analysts have warned that Russian forces could storm Baltic capitals like Riga and Tallinn in as little as 36 hours.
Positioning NATO battalions and increasing military exercises in the Baltics and Poland has been identified as part of possible solution to Russia’s increasing aggression in eastern Europe.
In response to increased NATO drilling earlier this year, Russia announced it would form three new military divisions (up to 10,000 troops in each) on the European border, as well as deploying five strategic nuclear missile regiments on combat duty, Reuters reports.
Before the announcement, Poland had asked for a “battalion plus,” of NATO troops to bolster their domestic forces as Russia increasingly threatens military action in response to NATO operations. Poland has also sought to spend $33 billion on military modernization by 2022, and to increase the size of their military by 50%.
But Macierewicz was clear that such a force would still not be capable of defeating Russia, and would merely increase the likely hood of deterring them in statements he made to DefenseNews.
- REUTERS/Michael Dalder
“From the military point of view, the problem so far has been that we have almost 100 percent certainty that in a situation of an aggression, NATO would lose the territory under attack and would have to reconquer it later,” Macierewicz said.
“Thanks to the forward presence [of additional battalions] it would be possible to maintain and defend the territory for a period sufficient” for NATO to regroup and eventually repel Russian forces, Macierewicz continued.
Stoltenberg explained in a speech at Warsaw University how the upcoming summit was a “critical moment for our Alliance.”
“To the east, we see Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, its continuing actions against Ukraine and a significant build-up of its military forces, stretching from the Barents Sea, to the Baltic and the Black Sea, and the eastern Mediterranean,” said Stoltenberg.
“To carry out NATO’s mission in this more dangerous world, we need to strengthen our collective defense, and to project stability beyond our own borders,” he concluded.