NATO allies have been planning a major buildup on the Russian border in what could be a strategic move designed to raise the stakes for Moscow as its seeks to renegotiate the European security architecture, experts told Sputnik
MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 26th January, 2022) NATO allies have been planning a major buildup on the Russian border in what could be a strategic move designed to raise the stakes for Moscow as its seeks to renegotiate the European security architecture, experts told Sputnik.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg announced this week that the alliance was considering enhancing its presence in eastern and possibly southeastern Europe, as well as in the Baltics, to respond to Russia's perceived aggression against Ukraine, although he said no combat troops would be deployed to Ukraine, an aspiring NATO member.
US President Joe Biden is reportedly weighing sending several-thousand extra troops, warships and aircraft to the region. More than 8,000 US troops were put on heightened alert ahead of possible deployment, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby confirmed on Monday.
This comes two weeks after Biden held a video call with Russian President Vladimir Putin in an effort to de-escalate tensions on the Russian-Ukrainian border, after the West repeatedly accused Russia of preparing to invade Ukraine in spite assurances that it was not.
"The NATO deployment really continues the conversation President Biden had with President Putin. Biden is making plain he doesn't agree with Putin's position on Ukraine and is upping the stakes," Thomas Whalen, an associate professor at Boston University's Social Science Department, told Sputnik.
The pundit said both presidents appeared to be dug into their positions, which could lead to "tragic results" in the event of a diplomatic misunderstanding or military miscalculation. Russia demands legally binding guarantees from NATO that Ukraine will never join the alliance, while NATO insists on an open-door policy.
Alan Cafruny, Henry Bristol Professor of International Affairs at Hamilton College's Department of Government, told Sputnik that the United States would not intervene militarily against Russia if it moved into Ukraine.
While many experts see Ukraine's chances of joining the alliance in the foreseeable future as slim, an increasingly polarized domestic situation in the United States will not allow Biden to cave in to Putin's core demand on Ukraine publicly.
The US and NATO are expected to present their parallel written response to Russia's demands for security guarantees in the coming days. Stoltenberg said he was ready to discuss arms control, disarmament, military transparency and risk reduction, but would not compromise on "core principles."
Cafruny, who is an expert on European politics and US-Russia relations, said this would certainly not satisfy Moscow. Russia wants assurances that NATO will not deploy weapons in Ukraine that could threaten its national security, after Donald Trump scrapped a decades-old treaty in 2018 that banned placing mid-range nuclear missiles in Europe.
Nikolai Sokov, a senior fellow at the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Nonproliferation, said the US's response to Russia would be "an absolute no" but suggested that the two could agree to a new, comprehensive deal on conventional weapons.
Sokov accused Russia of brinkmanship, saying that any buildup of NATO forces in eastern Europe was a "tactical move" to respond to Russian pressure. Yet, he said, the West is convinced that something must be done to defuse the crisis and resolve the frozen conflict in eastern Ukraine.