From the Baltic to the Black Sea, US Chief of Staff General Mark Milley has sought in recent days to reassure former Soviet bloc countries that feel threatened by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The United States has reinforced its military presence in Eastern Europe to “prevent any further aggression by the Russians and avoid a war between great powers,” Milley said on Monday near Constanta, in southern Romania.
“What you do is really important: reassure Romania and other NATO allies that we are here, that the United States is here,” he said.
Coming directly from the United States, or from bases in Italy or Germany, about 15,000 American troops have been deployed in recent weeks along a 1,200 km arc in neighboring Ukraine and Belarus, which supports the Russian invasion, to deter Moscow. to move forward.
The United States typically has 67,000 troops stationed in Europe, in addition to units sent on rotations of several months.
These rotations expanded, with units based in Western Europe sent east and reinforcements deployed from the United States. Today, there are around 100,000 soldiers in Europe.
Among them, 2,500 are installed in the three Baltic countries (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia); 10,000 in Poland; 2,400 in Slovakia; 350 in Bulgaria; and 200 in Hungary.
During a five-day trip, General Milley visited five of these countries – the three Baltics, Poland and Romania – where he met with high-ranking officials to reassure them and assess their needs.
– As in Afghanistan –
In Latvia, which seceded from the Soviet Union in 1991 and later joined NATO, Defense Minister Artus Pabriks called for more military assistance and, above all, a permanent military presence.
In every country, the top US military official visited the troops, reminding them of their mission: to show that the US is ready to defend the territory of its NATO allies.
This is what the allies did in 2001, when NATO joined the United States in the war in Afghanistan in response to the 9/11 attacks committed by the Al Qaeda network, then under the Taliban regime.
This common military experience reappears in the face of the Russian threat, as many of the military leaders of NATO’s eastern flank countries participated in the war in Afghanistan alongside US forces.
“What is clear to me is NATO’s unity and determination in the face of an unprecedented threat and the biggest land conflict on the European continent since 1945,” Milley told AFP during his trip.
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