MSeveral NATO member states have announced that they will send additional warships and combat aircraft to Eastern Europe. The alliance announced this on Monday morning. Accordingly, Denmark is sending a frigate to the Baltic Sea and four F-16 fighter jets to Lithuania to strengthen air surveillance on the border with Russia. An undisclosed number of Spanish ships set sail to join the Alliance’s standing maritime formations. In addition, Madrid is considering moving fighter jets to Bulgaria, it said.
France has declared its willingness to send troops to Romania and place them under NATO command. The Netherlands also wants to send two F-35 fighter jets to Bulgaria, but only from April. They are also intended to complement the Alliance’s airspace surveillance.
German Armed Forces in Baltic States
According to NATO, the United States is also considering increasing its military presence in Eastern Europe. The alliance did not provide any further information. The New York Times previously reported, President Joe Biden is considering moving thousands of US troops, warships and warplanes in response to the threat of Russia invading Ukraine.
The American newspaper, citing an unnamed government source, reported that senior Pentagon officials presented various options to Biden at Camp David, the president’s official country residence, over the weekend that would envisage the relocation of 1,000 to 5,000 US soldiers. In the event of a further deterioration in the security situation, the number could be increased to up to 50,000 soldiers.
A German contribution was initially not reported in the NATO statement. However, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense told the FAZ that the Air Force would step up air surveillance in Romania from February 22. He did not provide precise information about the number of combat aircraft involved. During the first mission in Romania, the Luftwaffe took part with a squad. The German armed forces in Eastern Europe are currently already involved in airspace surveillance in the Baltic States. In addition, the Bundeswehr is currently leading one of the four NATO combat units stationed in the Baltic States and Poland as part of the “enhanced forward presence”. The association in Rukla, Lithuania, currently has 550 German soldiers.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the announcements made by member states. “NATO will continue to take all necessary measures to protect and defend all alliance partners,” said the Norwegian.
The deployment of additional troops and weapon systems is the most determined response to date by the United States and its NATO allies. So far, the Biden government has refrained from deploying military forces because it feared that this would give Russia a reason for an invasion. In view of the progress of the Russian troop deployment, however, this argument seems to have receded into the background. A Western secret service representative told the FAZ on Sunday that Russia is now capable of limited military operations in Ukraine at any time. 106,000 Russian soldiers have now been drawn together. “Strategic enablers” had been positioned, ammunition supplies and field hospitals had been positioned.