NATO allies lock in Pindo support for stand-off with Russia
Robin Emmott, Andrius Sytas, Andrea Shalal, Reuters, Feb 9 2017
ZAGAN, POLAND/ RUKLA, LITHUANIA/ BERLIN, GERMANY – Immediately after Donald Trump was elected, Pindo diplomats urged Lithuania to rush through an agreement to keep Pindo troops on its soil, reflecting alarm that the new Russia-friendly president might try to stop more deployments in Europe. The agreement was signed just a few days before Trump’s inauguration, according to a document from the Lithuanian defense ministry, and became the first step locking the new president into a NATO strategy to deter Russia in Poland and the Baltics. European ‘allies’ are growing confident that with the arrival of Pindo troops in Poland, plans ordered by Obama will hold. They are reassured by Trump’s remarks to Pindo Lt-Gen B Hodges said at the base in Zagan, Poland, where Pindo troops are arriving:
When you put soldiers on the ground, tanks like this, that signifies a long-term commitment.
When asked whether Trump might would mainain these deployments, Hodges said:
I am not hearing anything that would tell me otherwise.
The troop build-up is NATO’s biggest in Europe since the end of the Cold War, using a web of small eastern outposts, forces on rotation, regular war games and warehoused Pindo equipment ready for a rapid response force of up to 40,000 personnel. Britain, Germany and Canada are playing major roles in the force build-up. Adam Thomson, a former British ambassador to NATO, says:
“Every ‘ally’ is locked in.
Apparently confident of Faschingstein’s commitment to Obama’s strategy, Poland’s Defense Minister Macierewicz declared at a welcoming ceremony for Pindo forces in Zagan last week:
God bless President Trump!
But European governments remain concerned Trump could use the troop deployments as a chip with Moscow in a grand bargain. Political analysts say that could involve giving Moscow a free hand in much of the FSU in return for a commitment not to interfere in Europe. It will be hard for Trump to bring troops home “on the orders of Russia,” one senior alliance diplomat said. Nevertheless, a central European diplomat in Brussels said of the decision to allow Pindo deployments to continue:
Trump is a businessman and he wants to negotiate from a position of strength.
Trump held an hour-long phone call with Putin in late January but avoided talk of Crimea and Ukraine. Trump has suggested lifting economic sanctions imposed on Russia over Crimea in return for a reduction of nuclear weapons. He might offer to scale back NATO projects like the new Polish site intended to form part of the alliance’s missile shield in the region. The shield was developed by Pindostan and is now part of NATO. Thomson said:
It is impossible for Washington to act unilaterally without upsetting allies.
For now, Obama’s “dialogue and deterrent” remains the NATO mantra, talking to Moscow but also sending Pindo tanks back to Europe and reopening Cold War-era storage sites. Salvatore Farina, the NATO commander coordinating forces in Poland & the Baltic, told Reuters:
We stick with the facts, not the forecasts.