NATO planes in Siauliai, Lithuania (photo: twitter)
NATO plans to establish five new military bases in eastern Europe, a NATO source has claimed.
The bases will be created in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Romania and Poland as a response to Russia's actions in the Ukraine, German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung reports.
The newspaper report published Sunday, claims EU member states approved a secret document in Brussels this weekend referring to Russia as a 'transatlantic threat.'
However, Latvia's Armed Forces Commander Raimonds Graube denied new bases would be created in Latvia. A Latvian defense ministry spokesman declined to comment on the report.
"We could expect some conceptual decisions during the [NATO] summit in Wales. Considering all previous information, at the moment we are unable to confirm whether there will be any NATO elements in east Europe," A Latvian defense ministry spokesman was quoted by the LETA news agency.
The proposals will be discussed on September 5-6 during the NATO Summit in Wales.
Logistics, surveillance and military planning experts will deal with preparing military maneuvers at the new bases and also participate in military operations in these countries if necessary, the newspaper further reports.
In addition to the new bases, NATO also plans to create Rapid Response Force consisting of about 4,000 soldiers that could be deployed to a crisis region within two to seven days, the source said.
NATO chief promises 'spearhead' force in eastern Europe
NATO will boost its presence in eastern Europe by developing a "spearhead" force that can respond rapidly to threats "at very short notice," NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said.
"This spearhead would be provided by allies in rotation and could include several thousand troops, ready to respond where needed with air, sea and special forces support," Rasmussen said in Brussels.
By setting up "reception facilities," equipment and supplies, as well having experts in place, troops will be able to "travel light but strike hard if needed," Rasmussen added.
"That means more visible NATO presence in the east for as long as required."
Rasmussen added however that the alliance would not breach an agreement struck with Russia in 1997, limiting its presence in the region.