Reinforcement of the NATO Eastern Flank

Reinforcement of the NATO Eastern Flank

Przemysław Furgacz (University of Business and Entrepreneurship in Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski, Poland)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2906-5.ch008


After the landmark annexation of Crimea and eruption of hybrid war in the Donbas, some states that in the past used to be under Soviet domination began to ask their stronger NATO allies for increased military presence in the Alliance Eastern flank. The worsening security environment in the Eastern Europe, the fear against potential swift Russian incursion, the relative weakness of Eastern European armies, the significant strategic exposure of the Baltic states, these factors influenced the Alliance's decision to augment NATO military presence in the states bordering Russia. Actions like deployment of additional battalions, prepositioning of heavy military equipment, intensified joint multinational military drills are intended to reassure the most vulnerable NATO member states and to deter Moscow from taking too audacious and too assaultive measures. The author shortly describes the actions NATO has made since 2014 in order to strengthen its military presence in the Eastern flank with particular emphasis on U.S.-enhanced forward presence in the region.
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The purpose of the chapter is to present in a succinct and concise way principal facts concerning reinforcement of the NATO Eastern flank since 2014. Because the United States of America is the leading NATO country accounting for approximately 69% of overall NATO members defense budgets (Haltiwanger, 2019) and seems to be particularly interested in establishing new military installations in the NATO Eastern flank the analysis primarily focuses on the U.S. moves. Moreover, due to the fact in bolstering its military presence in this part of world the U.S. concentrated primarily on stationing its troops in Poland, a special attention has been devoted to this country.

Because the process of reinforcing the NATO Eastern flank is relatively new and is still taking place there is not many monographies dedicated to the subject. The most useful sources for the analysis of the matter were Polis press (especially newspapers “Rzeczpospolita”, “Gazeta Finansowa”, magazine “Do Rzeczy”) and U.S. press (“Wall Street Journal”, “Washington Post”, “National Interest”). Interesting reports and analyses devoted to the studied subject-matter were released by American think tanks like Stratfor, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments and the Center for European Policy Analysis. Polish think tanks – chiefly the Polish Institute of International Affairs and – also published some analyses on matters discussed in the chapter.

In the first subchapter the author explained the reasons that convinced the policy makers to enhance the NATO presence in the Eastern flank. The second subchapter presents the particular steps taken by the Alliance to strengthen its Eastern flank. The third subchapter briefly describes the U.S. missile defense facilities in Poland and Romania, establishment of which may also be interpreted as an element of bolstering NATO military presence in this part of Europe. The next subchapter presents the European Reassurance Initiative and European Deterrence Initiative – a special programme commenced by the U.S. authorities in response to Russia’s aggressive steps in Ukraine which boils down to increased presence of U.S. troops in Poland and the Baltic states to improve their security. In the fifth subchapter a process of bilateral U.S.-Polish diplomatic negotiations on more permanent and more visible U.S. military presence in Poland was depicted. The next subchapter tersely presents Russia’s reaction to the increasing NATO presence in the vicinity of its Western borders. The last subchapter concludes the author’s researches.

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