WARSAW, Poland – NATO leaders geared up Friday for a long-term standoff with Russia, ordering multinational troops to Poland and the three Baltic states as Moscow moves forward with its own plans to station two new divisions along its western borders.
Alliance Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on the first day of a two-day summit that U.S. President Barack Obama and leaders of the 27 other NATO countries also declared the initial building blocks of a ballistic missile defense system operationally capable, recognized cyberspace as a domain for alliance operations, committed to boosting their countries’ civil preparedness, and renewed a pledge to spend a minimum of 2 percent of their national incomes on defense.
“We have just taken decisions to deliver 21st-century deterrence and defense in the face of 21st-century challenges,” Stoltenberg said. He said deployment of the new NATO units to Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on a rotational basis would start next year.
“It’s an open-ended commitment and will last as long as necessary,” he said. “And it is a new reality because we didn’t have that kind of presence in the eastern part of the alliance before.”
He announced plans as well for an enhanced NATO presence in the Black Sea region, where Russia has also reasserted its influence, with creation of a multinational brigade under Romanian and Bulgarian command.
Polish President Andrzej Duda, the summit’s official host, warned that Western democratic values are being undermined by a “notorious lack of respect for international law” as well as terrorism and high-tech warfare.
After arriving in Warsaw, Obama announced his decision to send an additional 1,000 U.S. troops to Poland as part of the NATO effort to reinforce its presence on the alliance’s frontiers near Russia. Following bilateral talks, Duda thanked Obama, saying Poles “are grateful for the goodwill, for understanding that security is where the world’s strongest army is, and that army is the U.S. Army.”
The U.S. says the battalion should be there by the middle of next year.
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