In the wake of the Ukraine conflict and Russian hostility towards NATO, the United States has proven to be the most important Ally of the Central and Eastern European (CEE) states. The U.S. has been implementing deterrence and reassurance measures on a faster and bigger scale than other countries, and U.S. actions have been received well by CEE countries, which are concerned about Russia’s actions.
Nevertheless, the permanent basing of NATO, especially U.S., combat forces is still a priority for Poland and the Baltic States, due to the need to provide highly credible deterrence. From Washington’s perspective, however, such deployments are impeded by numerous financial and political factors, including opposition from some European states, which fear that the move might escalate tensions with Russia.
In the context of the 2016 Warsaw summit, CEE countries should strive for stronger U.S. leadership in shaping a new agreement within NATO. Although deployment of bigger units would be best for these states, they should also consider solutions that are more viable under current political and financial limitations, such as a permanent presence of smaller combat forces. Moreover, there is a need for further enhancement of U.S. and NATO abilities to reinforce the eastern flank in the event of a conflict, also through the development of Allied infrastructure in the region and the pre-positioning of additional military equipment.