Poland‘s new President Andrzej Duda will visit Estonia next week to launch a campaign to push NATO to deploy more troops in the region, a senior source said on Monday, amid fears of mounting Russian assertiveness.
Poland and the Baltic states, spooked by Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region last year, have repeatedly asked NATO to station forces permanently in their territories along the alliance’s eastern flank. But Germany and other alliance members, wary of Russia’s response, have rebuffed the appeals and opted instead to intensify joint exercises and rotate troops through the region. Russia has said it would see any significant deployment of forces close to its borders as an aggressive act. Duda’s first foreign trip since he was sworn in on Aug. 6 would be a show of solidarity with the Baltic states, the source told Reuters. The president has said he will push NATO members to approve a troop deployment at a summit next year. “Because of its size and economic and military potential, Poland wants to take upon itself to build a unified front in the region, for example with regards to NATO armies’ permanent presence, and the visit marks the beginning of this process,” the source said.