Merkel defends NATO plans to boost troops in Eastern Europe

NATO's plans to boost troop deployments in Central and Eastern Europe as a result of tensions with Russia earned support from German Chancellor Angela Merkel Thursday as she defended them before the Bundestag.

Speaking ahead of the opening on Friday of a two-day summit of NATO leaders in Warsaw, Merkel told the German legislature it was not enough to be able to relocate troops in emergencies quickly.

"The alliance needs to have a stronger presence in the Baltics and in Poland," the chancellor told German lawmakers.

The 28-member US-backed military alliance is expected to agree in Warsaw to the deployment of an up-to-1,000-strong battalion distributed across Poland and the three Baltic states – Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.

Warsaw - along with the Baltic states - has been one of the most vocal nations when it comes to expressing concerns about Russian aggression in the region following Moscow's backing for pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.

"Germany will make a substantial contribution to these measures," Merkel told parliament, at the same time defending the principle of deterrence.

The German defence forces are to head up one of the battalions, which includes several hundred soldiers and is to be based in Lithuania.

"This," she said, "is at its core a concept of defence."

Last update: Thu, 07/07/2016 - 12:03

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