The West to expand NATO air patrols along Russian border

The West is expected to expand the air patrols that NATO nations conduct over Baltic nations. The air patrols are being carried out from a base in Lithuania, and Estonia has offered to provide a second base to sustain expanded operations.
Another step is to increase NATO’s naval presence in the Baltic Sea.
NATO is also expected to improve the capability of its response force — which has air, land and sea units — to quickly deploy in a crisis, diplomats said. Elements of that response force, for example, could be rotated through Baltic nations and other Eastern European members as part of an exercise.
The alliance has not, however, committed to the continuous deployment of ground forces on the territory of Eastern European members, a form of assurance Eastern European officials would welcome.
“What the Baltic States want is an allied presence in the form of boots on the ground,” Lauri Lepik, Estonia’s ambassador to NATO, said in an interview.
After meeting with his German and French counterparts in Weimar, Germany, on Tuesday, Radoslaw Sikorski, Poland’s foreign minister, told reporters his country wanted the alliance to deploy two combat brigades with as many as 5,000 troops each in Poland.
Allied diplomats said that Mr. Sikorski did not propose such an sizable deployment in the closed-door meetings on Tuesday. Still, Poland’s prime minister, Donald Tusk, indicated that the steps the alliance had taken so far fell short of what some Eastern European diplomats said they had wanted to demonstrate the alliance’s commitment to their security.
“We are gaining something step by step, but the pace of NATO increasing its military presence for sure could be faster,” Mr. Tusk said in a news conference in Warsaw, adding that the result was unsatisfactory.

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