Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

New NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg, pictured when he was Prime Minister of Norway, February 23, 2010. (Photo: Policy Network/flickr/cc)

New NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, pictured when he was Prime Minister of Norway, February 23, 2010. (Photo: Policy Network/flickr/cc)

NATO Head: 'We Can Deploy Our Troops Wherever We Want'

Statement by Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg flouts NATO's post-Cold War agreement with Russia that it will not permanently deploy combat troops to eastern and central Europe

Sarah Lazare

In a challenge to post-Cold War de-escalation agreements, the new secretary-general of NATO declared on Sunday that the alliance can deploy its troops "wherever we want to" in Eastern Europe. The statement came just a month after the alliance pledged to develop "rapid response" military forces aimed at countering Moscow.

Jens Stoltenberg, the former Prime Minister of Norway, took the helm of NATO last week as secretary-general, replacing outgoing Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

During his ongoing visit to Poland, Stoltenberg told Polish state broadcaster TVP, "Next year, at the ministerial meeting, we will take decisions regarding the so-called spearhead but, even before it is established, NATO has a strong army after all. We can deploy it wherever we want to." He continued, "These capabilities already exist. We have them, and we can deploy them in individual regions. And this is only an add-on to what the alliance already has."

He made these comments despite the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act, in which the alliance agreed to avoid "permanent stationing of substantial combat forces" to Eastern and Central Europe. But critics charge that NATO has been flouting the spirit of this and other post-Cold War agreements for years, through its expansion to include Baltic states and potentially Georgia and Ukraine, and more recently, its recent military expansion towards Russia.

NATO, which is led and majority funded by the United States, is itself a creation of the Cold War. More than two decades after the fall of the Soviet Union, the alliance is engaged in numerous military conflicts, including the ongoing occupation of Afghanistan, as well as the expanding U.S.-led war in Iraq and Syria.

At NATO's summit last month, the alliance approved the rapid response force but rejected a request from Poland for the permanent stationing of thousands of troops in the country, citing pacts with Russia.

John Feffer, author and co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies, told Common Dreams that Stoltenberg's statements on Sunday do not necessarily mark an immediate shift in policy, but rather, send a message to Russia: "This is a signal to Russia that 'even though we didn't accept Poland's proposal, we still might go ahead and do that if Russia does something we don't like.'"

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Greenhouse Gases Trapped Nearly 50% More Heat Last Year Than in 1990: NOAA

"Getting hot in here," said one climate campaigner. "Gotta get congressmen and senators to do more midday outdoor events in their dark suits."

Jessica Corbett ·

'Perverse' Supreme Court Ruling 'Effectively Ensures That Innocent People Will Remain Imprisoned'

"This is radical. This is horrifying. This is extremely scary," said one public defender.

Jessica Corbett ·

Arizona, West Virginia Residents Risk Arrest to Demand End to Filibuster

"Our democracy is on life support," said campaigners. "There's no time to ask nicely."

Julia Conley ·

Campaign Launches 'Summer of Action' to Protect Medicare From Stealth Privatization

Medicare "is under threat today from the constant efforts of private insurance companies and for-profit investors who want to privatize it and turn it into yet another shameful opportunity to make money," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal.

Kenny Stancil ·

Florida Student's Graduation Speech About Curly Hair Highlights Cruelty of 'Don't Say Gay' Law

Having to use a euphemism to discuss his identity "was a really dehumanizing decision," said Zander Moricz. "I just had to be clever about it—but I shouldn't have had to be."

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo