NATO’s top commander is considering sending more troops to Romania and Bulgaria to counter Russia, the German newspaper Der Spiegel reported on Saturday.
The report said the plan would extend NATO’s “Enhanced Forward Presence,” under which battlegroups are deployed to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland on a rotational basis.
Der Spiegel said NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Tod Wolters, who also heads US European Command, “called for a reinforcement of troops on the eastern border” of NATO during a recent confidential videoconference.
The report comes as Russia is seeking guarantees from the US that NATO won’t expand further eastward amid simmering tensions surrounding Ukraine. The US has accused Russia of plotting to invade Ukraine, which Moscow denies, and the Russians are pointing to the NATO military activity in the region as the source of tensions.
While neither Romania nor Bulgaria borders Russia, both countries have a coast on the Black Sea, an area where the US and NATO have stepped up their presence. The US is bankrolling a $152 million construction project at the former Soviet base in Camp Turzi, Romania, to expand NATO’s capabilities in the Black Sea.
Russia submitted a series of security proposals to the US last week and is eager to negotiate them. If NATO decides to expand its eastern presence at this time, Moscow would view the move as a major provocation.