The Washington Post reported Tuesday that there are divisions between NATO members over the alliance’s plans to expand its military presence in Eastern Europe.
Poland and the Baltic states are seeking a significant expansion of NATO’s presence on their territory, while other NATO members, including France and Italy, are hesitant and don’t think Russia threatens alliance territory.
The Post obtained a confidential proposal from Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia that asks for a contingent of 20,000 troops to be put on standby to deploy to their territory if they come under attack.
Under the proposal, a brigade of 6,000 NATO troops would be deployed to each Baltic country, up from the roughly 2,000 NATO soldiers that were there before February. The plan would also station military equipment for the 20,000 troops on standby to use if they are activated.
“Russia’s direct military aggression against NATO allies cannot be excluded,” the proposal reads. “Russia can rapidly mass military forces against NATO’s eastern border and confront the Alliance with a short war and fait accompli.”
The Post report said Eastern European countries are also pushing for the alliance to abandon the NATO-Russia Founding Act, an agreement signed in 1997 that called for cooperation between Moscow and NATO. Under the deal, NATO agreed not to permanently station troops east of Germany.
Most NATO members agree that Russia violated the Founding Act by invading Ukraine, but officials in Western Europe and the US are hesitant to abandon the deal altogether.
Since the beginning of the year, the US has deployed tens of thousands of troops to bolster its forces in Europe, including in Poland and the Baltic states, and US military leaders are eyeing a more permanent presence.
In April, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said the US’s allies in Eastern Europe could build new permanent military bases that US troops could rotate through. He said the Baltic states, Poland, and Romania are “very, very willing” to establish such bases. “They’ll build them, they’ll pay for them,” he said.