The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is in the middle of a “fundamental transformation” and planning a massive military buildup along Russian borders.
Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said NATO will undergo a major “reset” and plans to put enough troops in states that border Russia to repel an invasion. The alliance currently has 40,000 troops in eastern member states.
NATO considers its forces in Eastern Europe a deterrent against Russia but insufficient to actually stop incoming forces. The “tripwire” policy believes Moscow would be unwilling to kill American soldiers and provoke a larger war. Stoltenberg did not say how many troops would be needed in states like Latvia and Estonia to fight off a Russian invasion.
The alliance recently announced the creation of four new battlegroups of about 1,500 troops each to be deployed to Eastern European states. NATO will have a battlegroup that stretches from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea.
Stoltenberg said the change in policy is a response to the invasion of Ukraine and will claim the buildup is defensive. Moscow is unlikely to share that interpretation. Russia demanded a withdrawal of NATO forces from Eastern Europe in the December security proposal.
Since the 1990s, NATO has expanded and moved forces into former Soviet states. Moscow has consistently said the alliance’s eastward expansion is a threat and is part of the reason President Vladimir Putin elected to launch a “special military operation” in Ukraine.