At a high-level NATO meeting in Brussels today, alliance defense ministers and military planners are working to deploy four battalions to Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland to boost their defenses against Russia.
Jens Stoltenberg, secretary-general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), told a news conference those Baltic states and Poland feel most threatened by Russia, ever since Russian aggression against Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
U.S. NATO Ambassador Douglas Lute said numerous details, including the exact number of troops involved as well as the national composition of the battalions and who will be in command, remained to be decided and will be announced at the July NATO summit in Warsaw. "By Warsaw, three weeks from now, we'll have answers to who's contributing where," Lute told a news conference in Brussels.
With some 800-1,000 troops in each unit, NATO officials estimate some 4,000 troops will be deployed in total.
Meanwhile in Russia today, President Vladimir Putin has ordered snap drills to check the Russian military's readiness to quickly mobilize its forces. Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the maneuvers that began Tuesday will last for a week.
The maneuvers are the latest in a steady series of drills intended to strengthen the military's readiness amid tensions with the West over Ukraine.
Finally, a story developing today from the Democratic National Committee is word that Russian government hackers infiltrated DNC files including opposition research on presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. What would Russian officials do with the information gathered?
With files from the Associated Press.
Gregory Feifer, Author of “Russians and The Great Gamble,” former NPR Moscow correspondent
Derek Chollet, Senior Advisor at The German Marshall Fund of the United States (a nonpartisan think tank in D.C. focused on transatlantic cooperation); from 2012-2015, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs; Author "The Long Game: How Obama Defied Washington and Redefined America’s Role in the World (PublicAffairs, June 2016)
Nina Tumarkin, Professor of History and Director of Russian Area Studies, Wellesley College; author of “The Living and the Dead: The Rise and Fall of the Cult of World War II in Russia”