Are Nato's plans for Eastern Europe wise?

Nato plans to deploy 4,000 soldiers in the Baltic states and Poland next year. The military alliance also inaugurated a new missile defence site at a military base in the locality of Deveselu, Romania, in mid-May, and another such site is to be set up in northern Poland. Is this the right response to Russian aggression?

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Corriere del Ticino (CH) /

Half-hearted deterrence manoeuver

Nato can't stand up to Moscow effectively with its current strategy, Romanian-American military strategist Edward Luttwak writes in a commentary for Corriere del Ticino:

“Despite the invasion in Crimea and the ongoing aggression against Ukraine, the Nato Allies don't want to send enough troops to protect the Baltic states and Poland. 1,000 soldiers in Estonia or 5,000 in Poland do not represent the kind of stable deterrence 200,000 troops could have provided. ... In the current situation the best alternative is to lift all sanctions and agree that Ukraine may not join either the EU or Nato, in exchange for Russia's general withdrawal and the waiving of any territorial claims. ... So far the hypocritical agreements that Russia's counterparts have hastily pushed through have had no effect on on Putin.”

Neatkarīgā (LV) /

Don't trigger panic in the Baltic states

The former British general and deputy commander of Nato Richard Shirreff warns in his new book that a nuclear war could break out between the West and Russia within a year if Russian troops invade the Baltic states. Such chilling scenarios certainly don't help the Baltic region, the daily paper Neatkarīgā warns:

“Those who couldn't decide whether to leave the country or remain will certainly buy a one-way ticket after the general's hysterical warnings. And the few foreign investors who still saw Latvia as a secure country for investment will now change their minds. … Because the Baltic states are cast as hostile states in Russian media, Moscow will no doubt also punish us economically. … For security purposes it would make more sense not to set up a Nato battalion here. It would be better to focus on encouraging the members of the Atlantic Pact to invest more in the Baltic countries.”

Contributors (RO) /

No one believed the Iran story anyway

The US has long dreamed of establishing a missile defence system in Eastern Europe, political scientist Valentin Naumescu writes in the blog Contributors:

“The discourse about Iran being able to target Central Europe with missiles was never truly convincing - either for Russia, the US or Europe. ... The US's Strategic Defence Initiative or SDI, which originated under Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, stood back then as it does now for the US's legitimate desire to erect a protective shield over its territory and reduce its rivals' strike potential. Nothing else could have justified the billions of dollars put into the programme over the decades. Iran, which is no more than a regional power in the Middle East, has never posed a threat to Europe. ... The missile defence system is now strengthening the US's strategic, military and symbolic power in Europe.”

Adevărul (RO) /

Putin's response won't be long in coming

Moscow's reaction to the US missile defence system won't be long in coming, journalist Dinu Flămând predicts in the blog portal Adevărul:

“We don't know if Putin was waiting for this. But he won't be afraid to respond, although Russia is already reeling under the effects of the Western economic sanctions. ... Not that Moscow is afraid of the defence systems in Deveselu or Poland. But as it so happens, Putin isn't the joyous Cossack dancer [and former Russian president] Yeltsin, and he's not about to ignore the new 'ideological' front that stretches from the Baltic to the Black Sea. And certainly not now that Iran - the potentially destabilising power which was used to justify the defence system in the first place - has turned out to be a gentle carpet dealer.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

We are protecting our citizens

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg explains in a guest commentary for Gazeta Wyborcza why the missile defence shield will go into operation:

“We can never know for sure what challenges lie ahead. Nato’s 67-year history has taught us that lesson well. But it has also taught us the value of being prepared to defend our nations from any threat at any time. In that regard, this week’s ceremony at Deveselu, and the work beginning at Redzikowo, represent important steps forward. ... Nato’s purpose is clear: to protect our citizens and territory against any threats. That includes conventional attacks by land, air or sea - but it also includes the very real threat posed by ballistic missiles from outside the Euro-Atlantic area. ... Missile defence is an important tool for Nato’s core task of collective defence.”

Le Temps (CH) /

Nato should put its cards on the table

Russia will view Nato's missile defence system in Eastern Europe as a provocation, Le Temps fears, and urges the Alliance to put its cards on the table:

“The strategic intentions that Nato is pursuing with the missile defence shield must be made clear as soon as possible. When missiles are being stationed in Poland and Romania and troops are being sent to Poland and the Baltic, you might as well just go ahead and admit that the goal is to protect Europe from Russia in response to its military rearmament, pan-Russian discourse and expansionist ambitions. Would that inevitably lead to a confrontation? On the contrary: it would allow everyone concerned to rethink their interests. It would allow a renewal of dialogue. And it could prevent the situation from degenerating into an unwanted conflict like that in Ukraine.”