NATO to increase high-readiness forces to 300,000 troops

NATO to increase high-readiness forces to 300,000 troops
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a news conference ahead of a NATO summit that will take place in Madrid, at the Alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium June 27, 2022. REUTERS/Johanna Geron

On Monday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that the bloc would increase the number of troops at high readiness from around 40,000 to more than 300,000 troops, citing an increased threat by Russia to European security.

This means that several of the NATO battlegroups in eastern Europe will be upgraded to brigade level, meaning there will be thousands of tactical troops at the ready, including a mixture of land, sea and air forces. The move, Stoltenberg said, is to deter Russia from making any moves that would further infringe on European sovereignty or the sovereignty of any NATO members.

This also comes as Finland and Sweden are in the process of joining NATO, breaking decades of neutrality and non-alignment.

For many of the high-readiness forces so far, the start of Ukraine’s invasion was the first time they had been set to that status. These multinational battlegroups are stationed in a number of countries bordering Russia, including Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. More battlegroups are reportedly planned to be stationed in Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia.

Key comments:

“I’m confident that Moscow, President Putin, understands our collective security guarantees, understands the consequence of attacking a NATO-allied country," said Stoltenberg at a conference in Brussels. “It will trigger a response from the whole Alliance. And to underpin that message, we are increasing the NATO presence."

“The reason Putin said he was going to go in was because he didn’t want them to join NATO," US President Joe Biden said earlier this month. “He wanted the sort of the Finlandization of NATO. He got the NATO-ization of Finland, instead."