On Monday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the military alliance is considering a “longer-term” presence in Eastern Europe, a move that would increase tensions with Moscow.
“We are considering more longer-term adjustments to our posture, our presence in the eastern part of the alliance. No final decision has been made on that but there is a process now going on within NATO,” Stoltenberg said at a press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda.
The comments come as Washington is engaged in negotiations with Moscow over Russia’s security proposals. One of Russia’s chief concerns is over NATO’s presence near its borders. “If Russia really wants less NATO close to the borders, they get the opposite,” Stoltenberg said.
NATO currently rotates troops in and out of some countries in eastern Europe, and Stoltenberg’s comments signal the alliance is looking to make its presence in the region more permanent. According to the NATO website, Stoltenberg said NATO is considering the “deployment of additional battlegroups to the south-eastern part of the Alliance,” which includes the Black Sea nations of Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey.
Stoltenberg’s comments came after President Biden ordered the deployment of about 2,000 troops to Poland and Romania. Poland announced that some troops from the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division arrived in the country on Saturday and landed near the Poland-Ukraine border.
Stoltenberg welcomed the US deployment, calling it “a powerful demonstration of American commitment to our alliance. Other allies are also contributing more forces to NATO on land, in the air, and at sea.” The UK announced Monday that it was sending 350 troops to Poland, adding to the small contingent of about 100 British troops that are currently in the country.