U.S. to boost military presence in Europe as NATO bolsters its eastern flank

  • Finland and Sweden will join NATO after ratification
  • Biden promises more troops and weapons to Europe
  • NATO agreed on a new force structure to deter Russia
  • Madrid protesters demand more weapons from Ukraine

MADRID, June 29 (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden pledged on Wednesday to send more U.S. troops, planes and warships to Europe, as NATO agreed the biggest boost to its deterrents since the Cold War in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Biden’s promise at the Madrid summit “to defend every inch of allied territory” came as the US-led military alliance also set in motion a new plan to strengthen the Baltic states and Poland against any future Russian attack.

With more German, British and Allied troops on alert to deploy east, the United States is also adding to the 100,000 troops already in Europe by sending more warships to Spain, planes to Britain, pre-positioned weapons in the Baltics and more. soldiers in Romania.

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“We mean it when we say an attack on one is an attack on all,” Biden said. Read more

The Baltics originally sought permanent NATO bases and a tenfold increase in the NATO troop presence of around 5,000 multinational troops before the invasion of Ukraine, as well as the addition air and sea defences.

Although what NATO agreed on Wednesday falls short of that, it does mean the allies will keep more troops in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, send more equipment, weapons and ammunition to region and set up a system of rapid reinforcements.

NATO leaders have agreed to move forward to bring more than 300,000 troops to a higher level of readiness.

In the past, the alliance relied on a smaller number – around 40,000 troops – to be on the front line to respond to any Russian attack or other crises.

“President Putin’s war against Ukraine has shattered the peace in Europe and created the biggest security crisis in Europe since World War II,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said during a briefing. a press conference. “NATO responded with strength and unity.”

The United States will also create a new permanent army headquarters in Poland, which was immediately welcomed by Polish President Andrzej Duda, as Warsaw had long sought a permanent American military base on its soil. “This is a fact that greatly enhances our security…in the difficult situation we find ourselves in,” Duda said. Read more

NATO also agreed on a long-term military and financial aid package for Ukraine, pledging to stand by Kyiv in its fight. In central Madrid, Ukrainian refugees staged a protest to demand more weapons from NATO for their nation, which is now facing a war of attrition against superior Russian artillery in the east of the country.

Ukrainian student Kateryna Darchyk, 20, told Reuters: “We are asking NATO to give us weapons because we have soldiers, we have people ready to fight for Ukraine, men and women who are ready to protect their country”.

END OF NORTHERN NEUTRALITY

Additionally, the 30 NATO leaders invited Finland and Sweden into the alliance, a move that, once ratified, would end decades of Nordic neutrality by placing both countries under the nuclear umbrella of the United States. United. Read more

It was made possible after Turkey lifted its veto on the two countries’ progress towards membership after four hours of talks on Tuesday night in Madrid, ending weeks of drama that threatened Allied unity.

As part of the deal, Sweden and Finland agreed not to support Kurdish militant groups.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan had threatened to block their offers following Ankara’s accusations that the two countries were backing a Kurdish militia in northern Syria. Turkey sees the militia as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is also considered a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union.

Finland, which has a 1,300 km (810 mile) border with Russia, and Sweden, the country of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, are now ready to integrate well-trained military personnel into the alliance, which could give NATO the superiority of the Baltic Sea.

“We are not yet covered by Article 5 of NATO,” Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told Reuters, referring to NATO’s collective defense clause. “Our goal is for this period to be as short as possible,” he said.

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Additional reporting by Sabine Siebold, Belen Carreno, Humeyra Pamuk and Guillermo Martinez, writing by Robin Emmott Editing by Tomasz Janowski

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