President Barack Obama is being urged to permanently station troops in Eastern Europe to thwart a Russian threat, even though such a move would break a 1997 treaty, The Hill
Advocates say, however, that Russian President Vladimir Putin broke the NATO-Russian Founding Act when his troops invaded Ukraine beginning in 2014, releasing the United States and other NATO countries from the agreement.
"Russia's aggression and more dangerous military posture in Eastern Europe is a critical test for NATO," New York Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel said. "Now is the time to bolster our Baltic allies and Poland by basing at least one battalion in each of the four countries. This would restore the confidence of our allies and reestablish a safer balance in the region."
The treaty promises the United States or NATO will not have "permanent stationing of substantial combat forces" in Eastern Euriope and that NATO and Russia will respect the "sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence" of all states.
The United States has had rotational troops in Poland and the Baltic states since the move against Ukraine. Putin has called that an aggressive act and is likely to be even less happy with permanent troop bases.
Russia has broken the 1997 treaty, "but somehow we’ve decided that we and our allies are going to kind of keep up with the letter of it," Evelyn Farkas, the former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, told The Hill less than a week after leaving her job.
Several Republican lawmakers are expected to join Engel in his seeking added troops, though Arizona Sen. John McCain has said the current number is sufficient.
Even so, McCain does not believe the treaty should be followed.
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