In Lithuania on Monday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said NATO is considering more permanent troop deployments in the Baltic states as the military alliance is looking to bolster its forces near Russia.
“We’re continuously reviewing within NATO our defense posture, including looking at questions of extending the deployment of forces, looking at questions of more permanent deployments,” Blinken said.
Later in the day, Blinken visited Latvia, where Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics called for a permanent presence of US troops in the country. “Looking at the most recent developments we would be very happy about the permanent presence of US forces here in Latvia,” Rinkevics said at a joint press conference with Blinken.
Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia all joined NATO in 2004, bringing the military alliance right up to Russia’s borders. In recent years, NATO has stepped up its exercises in the Baltic states, and the US has increased its presence in the region.
While the US has maintained it won’t send troops into Ukraine to fight Russia, Blinken reassured the Baltic countries that the US would intervene if they were attacked. “We will defend every inch of NATO territory if it comes under attack,” he said in Latvia. “No one should doubt our readiness. No one should doubt our resolve.
In February, President Biden ordered more US troops to be deployed to the Baltics. The deployment included 800 soldiers from an Italy-based infantry battalion, up to eight Germany-based F-35 fighter jets, and a German-based attack aviation battalion with 20 Apache helicopters.