Mixed views in East Europe on higher NATO de­fense

The Covington News - - THE WIRE -

WAR­SAW, Poland (AP) — Lead­ers in most East­ern Euro­pean na­tions are just short of ju­bi­lant after NATO cre­ated a rapid-re­ac­tion “spearhead” force to pro­tect the re­gion from Rus­sian bul­ly­ing. They have long sought a com­mit­ment to al­lay their fears, es­pe­cially fol­low­ing Rus­sia’s re­cent ag­gres­sion in Ukraine.

But not all share in the joy. Some who spent decades un­der the Soviet yoke — politi­cians and or­di­nary peo­ple — think that the move could en­rage Moscow and un­der­mine the sense of se­cu­rity they have felt since the col­lapse of the Soviet Union and the ex­pan­sion of NATO in the 1990s.

The re­gion’s long-stand­ing dis­trust of Rus­sia be­came more acute fol­low­ing Rus­sia’s an­nex­a­tion of the Crimea Penin­sula and its role in the armed con­flict in east­ern Ukraine.

Poland, the re­gion’s largest coun­try and most po­tent speaker, has pushed for a large, per­ma­nent de­ploy­ment of at least two di­vi­sions of NATO troops on its ter­ri­tory as a de­ter­rent to any such ac­tiv­ity in Rus­sia’s west.

The NATO sum­mit in New­port, Wales this week set­tled for less, after Ger­many and some other ma­jor mem­bers in­sisted they want to keep a di­a­logue open with Moscow. The sum­mit de­cided on a new, rapid-re­ac­tion force of some 5,000 troops, a “spearhead” ready to de­ploy to any con­flict zone in a mat­ter of hours.

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