Stoltenberg expects North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member states to agree on new forces

Blanche Robertson
June 9, 2018

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in Brussels on Wednesday that the alliance's defence ministers would on Thursday decide on boosting readiness in Europe's east.

European countries are at loggerheads with Washington over punishing new United States tariffs on steel and aluminium as well as President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate accord.

While in Brussels, Mattis will also meet his Turkish counterpart as Washington tries to balance Ankara's concerns about Kurdish fighters among US -backed SDF forces trying to retake the Islamic State's remaining territory in Syria.

According to one of the United States officials, the initiative is primarily aimed at countering Russian Federation and corresponds to national defense strategy of the Pentagon, "2018".

Russia's war games past year, involving what Western officials said were 100,000 troops, also prompted concerns about accidental conflicts that could be triggered by such exercises, or any incursions into Russian-speaking regions in the Baltics.

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Russian ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov said all these preparations only contribute to tensions.

Thousands of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops are already stationed on standby in the Baltic states and Poland as a deterrent, and Stoltenberg stressed that the Four Thirties are about increased coordination and better mobility. This would compliment existing rapid reaction measures.

But is unclear how fast the alliance could move large troop numbers to its eastern flank and how long it could sustain them.

Germany lags in defense spending and is likely to face more criticism from Trump next month. But their resources would be badly strained, leaving little capacity for any other conflicts.

At a meeting in Brussels, the ministers unveiled a new plan to reinforce their presence in any European crisis with the deployment of 30 troop battalions, 30 squadrons of aircraft and 30 warships within 30 days. "We still don't have a final resolution of the issues, but both sides are determined to do enough to try to reach an agreement and are working very hard to do that". This is not about setting up or deploying new forces.

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