The US has deployed an additional 20,000 troops in Europe following the start of the Russian special military operation in Ukraine, bringing the total to 100,000. Although Moscow assures that it poses no threat to NATO states, the alliance used the Russian operation as a pretext to deploy more forces at its eastern fringes.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has promised that US forces’ rotations in Latvia will continue and that more troops might be dedicated to the region upon delivering a speech during his visit to the Baltic state. He justified the potential need for troop reinforcement by alleging a threat from Russia.
“We will enhance our rotational deployments in the region and intensify our training with our Baltic allies to further strengthen our combat credible posture in the region […] we can also bring in forces from the United States,” he stated.
Austin further vowed that the US remains committed to helping the Baltic states defend themselves, and added that the Security Force Assistance Brigade will continue to operate in the region going forward.
“If something happens, and […] the sovereign territory of Latvia is questioned or challenged, we’re gonna be here to work with our partners,” Austin assured his Latvian colleague Artis Pabriks, who stated that the country’s troops “are ready to die […] if something happens on the border”.
Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks noted, in turn, that his troops require daily “nitty gritty training” in order to defend the country, as well as additional financial assistance from the US for buying new military equipment. The minister added that Latvian air and coastal defenses also require upgrading.
Moscow has repeatedly warned the US and NATO against such deployments in the past and vowed a mirror response to the latest boost in the vicinity of the Russian borders. The Kremlin also accused Ukraine NATO of trying to create a hostile state to Russia in, with the eventual goal to deploy its troops on Ukrainian territory.