Many Americans are wondering, what difference does Russia’s incursion into the Ukraine make for us? Well, a number of observers are saying that Vladimir Putin might next go after the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania), bordering countries that used to be part of the USSR and that also have large Russian minorities with grievances.
Those Baltic states are now members of the European Union. Moreover, they are members of NATO. As are we. And, as the article linked after the jump says, “NATO is a mutual defense organization, meaning that an attack on one nation is considered an attack on all.” NATO is currently sending military forces to the Baltics, which will probably include American troops, some of whom are already headed to Poland.
For decades, NATO has expanded inexorably outward, taking on new members and new missions that have carried it far beyond its original mandate in Western Europe and deep into the former Soviet sphere.But Russia’s intervention in Ukraine has sent shivers down the spines of Eastern European countries from Estonia in the north to Bulgaria in the south. NATO’s newest members have been left feeling vulnerable and wondering whether the world’s most powerful military alliance is truly committed to their defense.
Concerns have been especially acute in the three Baltic nations that were once part of the Soviet empire and now fear that they could be next on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hit list.
NATO has long resisted placing much of a footprint in the Baltics, worried that doing so would jeopardize ever-precarious cooperation with Moscow.
Now that that cooperation is on life support, NATO announced this week that it plans to substantially boost its air, sea and ground presence in the Baltic states.
After meetings with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak said in an interview with Washington Post editors Friday that he expected a plan to dispatch U.S. ground troops to Poland, and likely the Baltics, to be announced next week.