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NATO to increase presence in Eastern Europe

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, February 25
The Czech Republic is ready to send around 100 soldiers to the eastern flank of NATO to help reinforce the Baltics and Poland and deter Russia, Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky said on Sunday, Reuters reports.

The move is in line with a NATO plan announced on Feb. 10 to deter Russia from aggression by rapidly deploying air, naval and ground forces without resorting to Cold War-era military bases.

"There is a talk of a single company - roughly 100 people - who will take part in the alliance's plan," Stropnicky said on Czech television.

"If the preparation of the (NATO) brigade goes according to plan, and I believe it will, then it is very likely in the second half (of this year)," he said.

In an effort to deter Moscow after its 2014 annexation of Crimea, NATO defence ministers will rely on a network of new alliance outposts, forces on rotation, warehoused equipment and regular war games, all backed by a rapid-reaction force.

Prior to Moscow's activities in the Crimean Peninsula, it was Georgia where Russia showed its aggression, and occupied 20% of Georgia's territory after a short war in 2008.

The country still continues to occupy both the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, but recently it has been pushing the Ossetian border with Georgian further south.

With Russia's subsequent activities in the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, there are no grounds to believe that Russia will stop its reclamation of the former Soviet territories.

The Alliance should not only increase measures to prevent new attacks, but it should also provide more security guarantees for the countries that have already suffered from Russian aggression.

If not, Russia will continue its creeping occupation in Georgia, in Ukraine and perhaps even other countries.

The NATO Warsaw Summit will be held in the first half of this year, and positive results for aspirant countries would be welcomed by Eastern European populations concerned that the alliance has abandoned them.