It was Antony Blinken who raised expectations on Tuesday.

Over the next two days, the NATO partners will discuss whether "there are further steps that we as an alliance should take to strengthen our security," said the US Secretary of State in Riga.

He pointed out several times that he could say more about it at the end of the meeting, on Wednesday afternoon.

When asked how reliable American security promises are, Blinken replied: "Don't judge us by what we say, but by what we do."

Thomas Gutschker

Political correspondent for the European Union, NATO and the Benelux countries based in Brussels.

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It sounded as if the calls from the Balts and Poland for a strengthening of the NATO presence on the eastern flank were being heard - even if it was initially not clear what that meant in concrete terms.

On Tuesday, however, Blinken was able to refer to the “Global Posture Review” that the Pentagon had completed the day before.

This is the regular review of the American troop presence around the world.

It provides for additional activities and a slight reinforcement of forces in the Indo-Pacific, but this should not be at the expense of Europe.

Rather, the Pentagon announced that the review "strengthens credible deterrence with combat troops against Russian aggression and enables NATO forces to operate more effectively".

Increase in the American presence in Europe

In February, President Biden lifted the upper limit for American troops in Germany, which his predecessor had set at 25,000. In April it was announced that more forces would be relocated to Germany, and the army will keep large camps that it actually wanted to give up. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg recalled all of this when on Tuesday he welcomed the review of the Pentagon and spoke of "some elements to further increase" the American presence in Europe.

The heads of state and government of the countries in the east have campaigned for it massively in the past few days. The Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks called on Monday for a permanent presence of American troops - and the deployment of batteries of the Patriot air defense system. The Polish President Andrzej Duda advocated “strengthening the operational readiness” of the so-called battlegroups, which NATO has stationed in Poland and the three Baltic states since 2017. So far these have been reinforced, multinational tank battalions, each with 1,000 to 1,400 soldiers. Germany leads the association in Lithuania.

The battlegroups were the first combat units that NATO stationed on the eastern flank. That only happened, as Stoltenberg emphasized again on Tuesday, because Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. Many soldiers are not, they also rotate on average every six months - because the alliance wants to comply with the 1997 Founding Act with Russia, in which it has committed itself not to station "any combat troops of substantial strength" on the territory of the former Warsaw Pact . Nonetheless, they have a certain deterrent effect, because an attack would immediately affect the entire alliance and NATO ensures that a nuclear power is always present in every country. In addition, the Americans have stationed a tank brigade in Poland,which also rotates and repeatedly sends units to the neighboring countries for exercises.

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