World War III Update: Alliance defense ministers push NATO to fill four battle groups of 4,000 troops for deployment to Baltic states

By @vitthernandez on
American Paratroopers in Latvia
U.S. paratroopers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade take part in sky jump "Bayonet Strike" excercise in Adazi, Latvia, September 12, 2016. Reuters/Ints Kalnins

Even if Russia has extended the ceasefire and has not conducted an air strike the past seven days, alliance defense ministers are pushing NATO to keep its July commitment to deploy forces to Baltic states. The promise was to fill four battle groups of about 4,000 troops.

The troops, to be send to Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, is part of NATO’s response to the 2014 annexation of Crimea by Russia. The US, German, Britain and Canada are expected to lead the troops with reinforcements from France, Denmark, Italy and other allies, Reuters reports.

To back up the troops is a 40,000-strong rapid-reaction force from NATO. While the strategy is part of an emerging new deterrent, which when combined with missile defenses, air patrol and defenses against cyberattacks, aim to counter Russia’s aggression after Moscow aired a threat to bomb Aleppo in two weeks’ time.

In addition to the NATO troops, the US will deploy to Norway in January a rotational force of about 330 US Marines to boost its troop presence in Europe amid heightened tensions with Russia, The Hill reports. The Norwegian Defense Ministry announced the development on Monday.

Ine Eriksen Søreide, defense minister of Norway, says in a statement that the country welcomes Washington’s initiative to augment the training and exercises in Norway by locating a Marine Corps Rotational Force. He says the move would have a positive implication on already strong bilateral relationship between the two nations.

It would be a trial period with officials of Norway, which shares a 122-mile boundary with Russia in the Arctic, determining if it would allow the Marine participation in exercise and training at the base would continue after 2017. The base is located about 600 miles from the border.