Since the increase in tensions with Russia began in 2014, NATO has been sending ever growing numbers of troops to their eastern frontier with Russia, with military officials predicting an imminent Russian invasion for months. Even though no one thinks that’s going to happen anymore, NATO is still pushing for more troops.
While the US has made up the vast majority of such deployments, the alliance leadership is now pushing for other member nations to send some troops too in what they’re now presenting as a 40,000-troop rapid reaction force deployed directly on the Russian border.
Officials are saying this huge force will be closely combined with missile defense programs in the region, along with air and cyber forces, as part of an overall force “to prevent conflict” with Russia. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg described it as a minimal “credible deterrence.”
Yet with the US openly talking starching a war with Russia, the continued deployments seem far from a purely defensive measure. Diplomats also suggested it was only partly about sending a message to Russia, and that the real point of the latest push is to get a bunch of nations involved as a “message” to US presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has complained the US is spending too much defending Europe and that Europe isn’t doing enough on its own.
That underscores the cynical nature of the deployments, and indeed the sort of thing adding to the sense of NATO being obsolete, that they feel they can afford to organize major deployments just for the sake of scoring political points in member nations’ elections.