DIn response to the Russian troop buildup near Ukraine, NATO is considering stationing combat troops not only in Romania and Bulgaria, but also in Slovakia and Hungary. This was confirmed to the FAZ on Friday by two sources. Accordingly, the NATO Commander-in-Chief for Europe, Todd Wolters, recently extended his first proposal from December, which referred to the two countries on the Black Sea, to include the two neighboring states of Ukraine. Battlegroups with up to 1500 soldiers are considered.
This runs in the Alliance under the term “enhanced vigilant activities”, while the stationing in the Baltic States and Poland is classified as “enhanced forward presence”. The NATO military committee is expected to make its recommendation on this next week, and the defense ministers should then decide on a corresponding planning order in mid-February.
“Logical and responsible step”
The Slovakian Foreign Minister Ivan Korčok disclosed the plans on Friday in a guest article for the newspaper “Sme”. A process had been initiated in NATO, he wrote, “to establish a similar presence on another part of the eastern flank – in Bulgaria, Romania, as well as in Hungary and Slovakia”. No resolutions have yet been passed either in the Slovakian government or in the alliance.
However, Korcok made it clear that he personally supports the stationing of combat troops in Slovakia: “I consider this a logical and responsible step, with which the alliance also wants to strengthen its overall defense in the individual member states.” Today it is no longer enough to He added, Today it is no longer enough “to declare that we are part of NATO, but if necessary, steps must also be taken that strengthen not only our defenses but also those of our allies”.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made the alliance’s internal considerations public for the first time on Monday, without naming any countries. “We are considering increasing our presence in the eastern part of the alliance, including the deployment of more NATO Battlegroups,” Stoltenberg said in a press conference with the foreign ministers of Sweden and Finland. “These deployments are proportionate and in line with our international obligations, and they enhance European security for all of us.”
French President Emmanuel Macron announced last week that France could lead a battle group in Romania. The stationing of NATO troops in Bulgaria and Slovakia is a matter of domestic political controversy.
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