Last July during the previous NATO summit, the United States and the 27 other nations of the military alliance agreed to increase their presence in the three Baltic States and Poland. Led by the United States, NATO will deploy approximately 4000 troops between the 4 countries.
Despite President-elect Trump’s statements that question American commitment to the Baltic States, the first several hundred American troops were deployed to Germany in order to help deter future Russian aggression. According NATO’s founding treaty, under Article V, an attack against 1 ally is an attack against all (collective defense). In theory, if a country, for example Russia, ever attacked a NATO member it is as an attack against all signatories of the document, including the United States. But realistically speaking, NATO, and its treaties are only an idea, a document. In the face of an advancing army, the treaty itself is worth less than the paper it is printed on; unless, the signatories of the treaty exhibit credibility in their desire to uphold the spirit and intent of the document.
In this respect, the United States signals its credibility to its NATO partners and Russia by moving its troops into the Baltic States. Of course, a few thousand troops are no match for the Russian military. But just as the United States deployed troops to Berlin during the Cold War, or as it has deployed troops to the 38th parallel, stationing troops in the Baltic States acts as a trip wire. If this trip wire is ever ‘triggered,’ it will guarantee that the United States and its NATO partners are bound (i.e. no choice) to their decision to respond with the full force of their militaries. When a state chooses to bind themselves to a potential military conflict, its adversaries will view their deterrence as more credible.
Of course as per usual, any movement of NATO troops along the Russian border is bound to prompt a rise in propaganda. But it is my opinion that Putin desires sanctions relief, and formal recognition by the United States of his policies in Ukraine and Syria rather than starting an Eastern European land war. But this will not stop Putin from his ‘grey zone’ or ‘shaping’ activities in Europe which include cyber attacks, propaganda, the funding of extremists political groups, and continually undermining the United States authority and legitimacy across the globe.
Merry Christmas! Today, January 7th marks the Eastern Orthodox Christmas. Russia celebrates Christmas today due to the Church’s use of the Julian calendar as opposed to the Gregorian calendar (used by us in the West).