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Tuesday 19.09.2017 | Name days: Verners, Muntis

Stoltenberg: NATO plans to station four battalions in Baltic States and Poland

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUNATO member states will agree on formation of an international battalion in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland, as NATO Director Secretary Jens Stoltenberg told journalists in Brussels on 13 June.

«We will agree to deploy by rotation four robust multi-national battalions in the Baltic states and Poland,» – he said.

Stoltenberg did not say how many troops will be in the four battalions. Previously officials estimated the size of each separate battalion to be around 2,500 to 3,000 men.

NATO command plans to finish the development of the plan of measures to enhance Eastern Europe’s defence before 8-9 June summit in Warsaw.

«This will send a clear signal that NATO stands ready to defend any ally,» – Stoltenberg added, referring to the measures the alliance has undertaken since the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine. It includes enhancement of rapid response forces to 40,000 and formation of a strike unit with 5,000 men.

According to him, allied forces in Baltics and Poland are stationed there on a rotation principle in order to avoid a breach of the agreement with Moscow.

At the same time, Stoltenberg added that it is highly important for the alliance to be strong. It is also highly important to maintain a dialogue with Russia to avoid armed clashes in regions where forces of the two sides regularly perform military operations.

He emphasized that progress is made in the defence financing field, with countries aiming to achieve allocation of 2% of GDP to defence purposes in the next decade. Over the course of the past 12 months, expenditures of the alliance’s member states on defence have grown by an average of 0.6 percentage points. 2016 is expected to have a 1.6 percentage point increase.

According to Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaite, Stoltenberg’s announcement proves that allies understand the region’s needs. She reminded that talks about the formation of an international battalion in Lithuania have been going on for a long time. It is hoped that an official decision will be achieved at the Warsaw summit.

US Ambassador to NATO Douglas Lute, told journalists that international battalions will be rotated every six or nine months. «We hope rotation will cover 365 days a year,» – he added.

According to the diplomat, each battalion will be composed mainly of a single country’s soldiers. Other countries will provide smaller forces.

The New York Times had recently reported that USA, Germany and Britain already have plans to allocate troops for the formation of the bulk of battalion forces. According to Reuters, Canada may become the fourth country to donate forces.

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