Eastern European NATO members fear ?they will be next to come under attack? from Moscow, the Washington Post says
The Baltic states and Poland have been begging the US to speed up weapon deliveries and expand the presence of American troops in their countries, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.
According to the outlet, the Russian military operation in Ukraine has caused Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to fear that "they will be next to come under attack."
"HIMARS, Reapers, counter-battery radars: these are what we will need most in terms of military lethal power that is imminently needed to deter Russia," Kusti Salm, the secretary general of the Estonian Defense Ministry, was quoted as saying. He was referring to the US' High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, combat drones, and technology used to detect incoming fire.
Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks recently told reporters, the Washington Post said, that Riga needs additional financial support in order to buy new weapons and to strengthen its air and coastal defenses.
Polish officials have also urged the US to speed up the delivery of weapons promised to Warsaw, according to the Post. Poland is awaiting Patriot missile batteries, HIMARS, F-16 fighter jets, and Abrams tanks, "all along multiyear schedules set before" the Russian offensive in Ukraine began, the outlet said.
The Polish Embassy in the US revealed on August 4 that "efforts to strengthen the defensive capabilities of countries helping Ukraine in the ongoing war" were a key topic of a meeting between the head of Poland's national security bureau, Pawel Soloch, and US President Joe Biden's national security advisor, Jake Sullivan.
A senior US defense official who spoke to the Post on condition of anonymity said the countries which are now providing Ukraine with weapons will need to backfill these capabilities in the future, though he did not indicate how long that would take.
According to the outlet, while the Eastern European countries realize that not everyone in Congress supports the idea of moving more US personnel to Europe, many of them insist that having a greater presence of troops in Europe "is necessary to keeping Moscow at bay."
The US has said it is committed to its defense cooperation with the Eastern European NATO allies. The 2022 federal spending package included the first-ever authorization of $180 million for the Baltic Security Initiative.
Earlier this week, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the US will conduct more military exercises with the Baltic nations and will look to provide additional training for their troops.
In June, Biden announced that the US will significantly increase its military presence in Europe for the long haul and will establish its first permanent base in Poland.
Meanwhile, the secretary of Russia's Security Council, Nikolay Patrushev, accused Washington of trying to turn Eurasia into "a conflagration space of warring nations." He said in June that the rapid military buildup in Eastern Europe might have disturbing consequences for the region's security.