World, Europe

Amid tensions with Russia, NATO fortifies presence on eastern front

Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 led NATO to pay more attention to its east and southeastern flanks

Tugrul Cam   | 27.01.2022
Amid tensions with Russia, NATO fortifies presence on eastern front


Amid tensions with Russia over Ukraine, NATO is acting to fortify its presence in eastern and southeastern Europe.

In December 2021, Russia presented to NATO and the US a proposal in which it asked for guarantees that the military alliance would not expand further east.

Furthermore, it demanded that no military bases be established in former Soviet republics and non-NATO countries, halting military cooperation with them.

Countries that were apparently indicated in this proposal are Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania -- already members of the alliance since 2004.

Of the former Soviet republics, Georgia and Ukraine, which are included in NATO’s partnership program, also want to be full members of the alliance.

In 2014, following Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory, Crimea, NATO enhanced its presence in the eastern bloc, with four multinational battalion-size battlegroups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland, on a rotational basis.

Moreover, NATO deployed further forces in the Baltic states and decided to fortify its presence in Bulgaria and Romania.

According to data compiled by Anadolu Agency, NATO’s presence in eastern and southeastern Europe are as follows:

NATO in the Baltics and Poland

NATO members at the 2016 Summit in Warsaw decided to establish an enhanced forward presence in the eastern bloc.

Fully deployed by July 2017, NATO’s enhanced forward presence comprises four multinational battalion-size battlegroups, provided by framework nations and other contributing member states on a voluntary, fully sustainable, and rotational basis.

Albania, the Czech Republic, Iceland, Italy, Montenegro, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain contribute to the Canadian-led battlegroup in Latvia.

In Lithuania, the German-led battlegroup is contributed by Belgium, the Czech Republic, Iceland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Norway.

Denmark, France, and Iceland contribute to the UK-led battlegroup in Estonia, while Croatia, Romania, and the United Kingdom are part of the US-led battlegroup in Poland.

NATO in southeastern Europe

At the Warsaw summit, the member states also agreed to develop a tailored forward presence on the southeastern front The land element of this presence is built around a multinational brigade headquarters in Craiova, Romania. It provides training opportunities for national contingents of the alliance.

At sea, NATO has deployed more ships and conducted more naval exercises.

Allies have intensified their training in the air, which contributed to improved situational awareness and enhanced readiness.

Furthermore, in the face of tension with Russia over Ukraine, NATO stepped up to boost its presence and deterrence in the region by sending more aircraft, including Danish F-16s, American F-15s, and warships, including part of the US 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean.

​​​​​​​*Writing by Ahmet Gencturk

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