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NATO’s Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană said he expects that permanent NATO military bases will be implemented in Eastern Europe in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking during the Copenhagen Democracy Summit, hosted by the Alliance for Democracies, Geoană suggested the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act is now “void” after the Kremlin began with their invasion of Ukraine and the military alliance is under no obligation to comply with it further.

NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea

Geoană addresses journalists as he arrives for an informal meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers on the conflict in Ukraine on May 15, 2022 in Berlin.

The 1997 agreement was designed to build trust between Russia and NATO, as well as limit both sides’ military presence in Eastern Europe.

Geoană said the alliance’s leaders will be working on a “fundamental transformation of NATO’s posture, presence and deterrence” on the eastern flank, including “more of a presence on the ground” during the NATO Summit in Madrid at the end of June.

“We are basically taking into account the fact that Russia is an aggressive, and unpredictable player. So yes, we’ll be going to a new generation of our presence in the east. And I can say, as a Romanian, that now we can witness the full integration of the new allies into NATO also from a deterrence and defense perspective,” he said.

When asked by former Danish Prime Minister and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the Copenhagen event whether NATO leaders will now deviate from the 1997 agreement, including permanently stationing troops in Eastern Europe, Geoană replied: “I cannot judge what leaders will do, but I can anticipate that they will do exactly that.”

Geoană said as part of the expected plans, NATO is working towards “state of the art, permanent” presence in Eastern Europe.

A number of NATO figures had already called for permanent bases in Eastern Europe amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.

In May, Poland’s prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki said a permanent base of allies “should be established in NATO’s eastern flank countries” during a speech at a Strategic Ark think tank forum.

“Poland is ready to build such bases [to include] light infantry units on a permanent basis,” Morawiecki said, via Stars and Stripes.

Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also raised the idea of having a rotation of U.S. forces in permanent bases in NATO’s Eastern Flank.

“Actual presence is always a good deterrent relative to a given threat,” Milley said during a committee on the fiscal 2023 defense budget request in April.

“My advice would be to create permanent bases but don’t permanently station,” Milley said. “And I believe that a lot of our European allies […] are very, very willing to establish permanent bases.”

By Odoh Dominic Chukwuemeka

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