Monday, November 16, 2015

Obama hears calls to place US troops in Eastern Europe | TheHill

Obama hears calls to place US troops in Eastern Europe | TheHill: The Obama administration is hearing growing calls to permanently station a substantial number of troops in Eastern Europe as a deterrent to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putting a large number of U.S. or NATO troops in Eastern Europe would violate a 1997 treaty with Russia, but those arguing for the placement say Putin already broke that treaty by backing the takeover by Russian-backed groups of Ukrainian territory.

“Russia’s aggression and more dangerous military posture in Eastern Europe is a critical test for NATO,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said in a written statement. “Now is the time to bolster our Baltic allies and Poland by basing at least one battalion in each of the four countries. This would restore the confidence of our allies and reestablish a safer balance in the region.”
Engel, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is the first lawmaker to publicly support the idea, but a congressional aide said the lawmaker is working with colleagues to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg advocating for the troops. The aide did not want to delve into further details since the letter is incomplete.

“This action wouldn't violate the NATO-Russia Founding Act because once Russia changed Europe’s 'current and foreseeable security environment,' NATO was released from its pledge not to permanently station substantial additional combat forces,” Engel said in his statement, which was separate from the letter.

Aides for some congressional Republicans said their bosses would likely support the proposition.