NATO has the right to deploy in Eastern Europe: deputy chief

NATO is no longer bound by past commitments to refrain from deploying forces in Eastern Europe, the deputy secretary general of the US-led alliance said on Sunday.

Moscow itself “emptied of all content” the NATO-Russia Founding Act, attacking Ukraine and interrupting dialogue with the alliance, Mircea Geoana told AFP.

Under the 1997 Founding Act, intended to reset relations between Russia and the Alliance, the two sides agreed to work to “prevent any potentially threatening build-up of conventional forces in agreed areas of Europe, including Central and Eastern Europe”.

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“They made decisions, they made a commitment there not to attack the neighbors, which they do, and to have regular consultations with NATO, which they don’t do,” Geoana said. , speaking in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.

“So I think actually this founding act is fundamentally not working because of Russia,” he added.

Russia, he said, has effectively walked away from the terms of the 1997 agreement.

“Now we have no restrictions to have a robust posture on the eastern flank and to ensure that every square inch of NATO territory is protected by Article 5 and our allies.”

Article 5 of NATO is the one that refers to collective defence, which says that an attack on one member is an attack on all.

Geoana did not give details of such a planned deployment, but said it foresees “a robust, flexible and sustainable presence”.

In 2017, NATO had already deployed multinational battle groups to the Baltic States and Poland as a deterrent. After the invasion of Ukraine at the end of February by Russia, it sent reinforcements there.

The Baltic states have called for a greater allied presence there, including the development of brigades to replace smaller battle groups.

NATO defense ministers will meet in mid-June to discuss this and other issues, and leaders of NATO member states will meet to approve any changes at a NATO summit. NATO in Madrid at the end of June.

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