A report by the House of Commons’ Defense Committee calls for the adoption of such decisions during the upcoming NATO summit in Wales in September.
“We recommend that the NATO Summit sets out plans to ensure: the pre-positioning of equipment in the Baltic States; a continuous (if not technically ‘permanent’) presence of NATO troops, on exercise in the Baltic; the establishment of headquarters structures, at divisional and corps level to focus on Eastern Europe and the Baltic; consideration of the reestablishment of a NATO standing reserve force along the lines of the Allied Command Europe Mobile Force-Land, involving all Member States,” the document reads.
According to the report, experts who testified to the committee underlined that “NATO was poorly prepared for a Russian attack on the Baltic, and that poor state of preparation might itself increase the likelihood of a Russian attack”.
The British report also states that Latvia and Estonia are facing a risk of unrest due to their large Russian ethnic minority populations. Meanwhile, Lithuania is considered militarily attractive for Russia as it would create a link through Belarus between mainland Russia and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.
Germany and some other European countries so far resisted proposals to establish permanent NATO allied military bases in Eastern Europe, stating that it would violate the 1997 agreement between Russia and the Alliance and would unnecessarily provoke Moscow.
Taking that into account, attempts are being made to use different terms to define the likely deployment of allied forces, for example, describing it as “persistent“ or “continuous” but not “permanent”.
A company of US paratroopers is now deployed in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland each. Under the confirmed plans, they are set to stay at least until the end of this year.