He said generals from Lithuania and Estonia will also request NATO deploys several thousand ground troops in their countries. Lithuanian military spokesman Captain Mindaugas Neimontas said:
"We are seeking a brigade-size unit so that every Baltic nation would have a battalion."
NATO's Supreme Allied Commander of Europe, Philip Breedlove, said the three countries were to seek "permanent rotational NATO forces" as a "deterrence measure due to the security situation in the region."
However, the deployment of permanent forces flies in the face of the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation which was signed in Paris, France on 27 May 1997.
It declared that "NATO and Russia do not consider each other as adversaries" and that the two parties will work together to prevent any potentially threatening build-up of conventional forces in agreed regions of Europe, to include Central and Eastern Europe.
The Act states that NATO "will carry out its collective defense and other missions by ensuring the necessary interoperability, integration, and capability for reinforcement rather than by additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces."
Breedlove refused to confirm the number of troops that will be deployed in the region, but suggested a standard NATO brigade could consist of around 3,000 soldiers.
In February, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, in a meeting with the Latvian President, said: "The Alliance's responsibility is to protect and defend each and every Ally against any threat. And NATO's support for its eastern Allies, including Latvia, was confirmed at the recent NATO Defense Ministers' meeting in Brussels.
"Here, more progress was made in implementing our Readiness Action Plan, including establishing an enhanced NATO response force and a very high readiness Spearhead Force," Stoltenberg said.
NATO's Eastward March
Historically, NATO — heavily backed by the United States — has sought to spread its influence further eastward, despite an agreement after the reunification of Germany, that it would not encroach on the former Warsaw Pact nations. At the time, former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev was assured by (then) US Secretary of State James Baker there would be "no extension of NATO's jurisdiction one inch to the east."
Since then, the onward march of NATO eastward has continued unabashed with the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Albania, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia all joining the Washington-led military coalition.
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