The United States is pushing European North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies to prepare more battalions, warships and planes for combat in Eastern Europe to deter Russia, which is described as a threat and adversary by officials.
A plan pushed by U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis will be discussed in Brussels on Thursday, which would require NATO to station 30 land battalions, 30 air fighter squadrons and 30 warships on alert for deployment in the areas bordering Russia. A NATO battalion is generally between 600 and 1,000 soldiers.
“We have an adversary (Russia) that can move quickly into the Baltics and Poland in a ground attack. We don't have the luxury of taking months to mobilize,” a senior NATO official said according to Reuters.
NATO, which is an institution formed in the midst of the cold war, already has a substantial presence in the Baltics and Poland, backed primarily by U.S. troops and equipment.
Officials have said that the plan would look to increase the response time of the alliance in the case of a conflict with Russia, given that they say France is “stretched thin” in Africa.
The EU last December formed a defense pact to develop crisis-response forces and work together to develop new helicopters and ships. French President Emmanuel Macron aims to set up a new French-led European “intervention force.”
The calls for heightened “crisis response” and “deterrence” against Russia come as Western governments and Russia are experiencing the tensest diplomatic moments since the cold war. Syrian President Bashar al Assad recently said in an interview with RT that U.S. and Russian troops have come very close to direct conflict in his country, but that “Russian wisdom” prevented such an incident.