To be clear, it is not the intention that additional troops now being sent by NATO member states to the Baltic states, Poland or Romania are actually taking action against Russian troops about to launch an attack on Ukraine. Ukraine is not a member of NATO and therefore cannot use essential Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty: an attack on any of the member states is an attack on the alliance, and the alliance is obliged to help the attacked country defend itself. Concretely, this means that Ukraine will stand alone in the event of a Russian attack.
But Ukraine borders the NATO countries Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. Armed conflict on Ukrainian soil could seep into these neighboring countries. Russia borders the three Baltic states and – through the Kaliningrad enclave – also Poland. And Moscow’s staunch ally, Belarus, borders Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. Sufficient limits and dangers to allow spilledeffects and increased tension. The additional assets and troops that NATO sends to its eastern flank are intended as a deterrent and as defensive support for the countries involved.
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