| 29 May 2024, Wednesday |

NATO needs permanent force in Eastern Europe to deter Russia, says Estonia

Aiming at preventing a possible Russian attack in the region, Estonia called on NATO to build up a permanent force in eastern Europe, on Wednesday.


“We will be in a totally new security environment. There will be a new Ukraine. There will be a new Russia. There will be a new Europe. There is no going back to February 23,” Jonatan Vseviov, the permanent secretary of the Estonian Foreign Ministry, told the Guardian in an interview ahead of Thursday’s NATO summit.


Vseviov highlighted the need to boost the defense and deterrence of the military alliance, and European security in general, in the long term.


“We need to move from a tripwire-based deterrence towards a forward defense-based deterrence, or a deterrence by denial, if you will,” he said.


Vseviov urged NATO to reduce its dependence on reinforcements and to deploy more of the defensive forces capable of stopping a Russian offensive in the frontline states in Eastern Europe.


He expressed his belief that alliance members would reach a “wide political consensus” on the need to take such action.


“The exact details are being worked out,” he said.


NATO deployed more than 20,000 troops to the Baltic states, Poland, and the rest of Eastern Europe after the Russia-Ukraine war broke out last month.


For the first time, it activated its NATO Response Force as a defensive measure in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine.


NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced on March 1 that the alliance increased its presence on its eastern flank.


The Russia-Ukraine war, which began on Feb. 24, has met international outrage with the EU, US, and UK, among others, implementing tough financial sanctions on Moscow.


At least 953 civilians have been killed so far in Ukraine, and 1,557 injured, according to UN estimates. It has warned, however, that the exact toll is likely much higher as it has not been able to gain access to areas of increased hostilities.


Over 3.6 million Ukrainians have also fled to the neighboring countries, according to the UN refugee agency.

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