NATO could deploy permanent troops in the Baltic states amid the crisis in the Ukraine, NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said.
Baltic officials have called for a stronger NATO presence in the region to deter any possible threat they see from Russia amid the crisis in the Ukraine. However, not all EU members are satisfied. Some, including Germany, say the bases would be seen as a threat from Russia who have also carried out military drills near Baltic borders this year.
Asked whether there would be permanent international deployments under a Nato flag in east Europe, Rasmussen told the Guardian newspaper: "The brief answer is yes. To prevent misunderstanding I use the phrase 'for as long as necessary'. Our eastern allies will be satisfied when they see what is actually in the readiness action plan." Rasmussen said.
A crucial NATO summit in Wales on September 4 will discuss the possibility of deploying permanent troops in the region.
Up to 1,000 NATO troops are set to take part in military drills in the Baltics on September 1-10. The joint land and air force training will bring together military units from Latvia, the United States, Canada, Italy, Germany, and Bulgaria.
The aim of the event is to strengthen cooperation between NATO member states, develop interoperability between allied armed forces, and improve armed forces' planning, coordination, organization and execution capabilities.
A separate military exercise will be held in Latvia on September 29 to October 6.
The Silver Arrow exercise will be attended by troops from Latvia and over 1,000 soldiers from Estonia, the United States and Great Britain.
The exercise is meant to improve cooperation among NATO member states, soldiers' conventional warfare skills, and support activities of the host country's state and municipal institutions.
Estonia leads calls for strong NATO presence in Baltics
Estonia's Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas, who met with the Senator Robert Menendez, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, in Tallinn on Tuesday called for an enhancement of NATO presence in the region, public broadcasting reports.
Rõivas said that Estonia is very serious about national defense, and contributes two per cent of the gross domestic product to its defense spending.
“The Government has also decided to cover the costs of receiving allied forces outside the defense spending,” the Prime Minister said.
(Edited by Rayyan Sabet-Parry)