In a show of determination in tense international times, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has been deploying troops to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and other countries that either directly border Russia or are close to it
One such contingent included 50 combat engineers from Canada who were sent to Latvia in late April to build a brand-new NATO base to house approximately 500 soldiers, according to the the independent research group Centre for Research on Globalization.
Another contingent, this one led by the United States, that arrived in Poland in early April, reportedly included 1,350 soldiers. According to the researchers, this team arrived “just a few days after a NATO-Russia Council meeting took place on March 30.”
Likewise, British troops were scheduled to be stationed in Romania, while British, French and Danish forces were slated to be deployed to Estonia.
Amid these arrivals, tensions in the region have reached a new high, with locals fretting over what the deployments may portend for their futures.
“I am not afraid for myself but I fear for my children with NATO here,” one 52-year-old Russian woman living in the Latvian town of Vijaka told the National Post. “If there is a war, it would be nuclear.”
What’s interesting is that many of the Russian-speaking locals had already sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Everything that the West says about Vladimir Putin is wrong,” claimed the woman. “He is level-headed and did not do anything against anybody in eastern Ukraine and the Crimea. I do not believe that Putin will start a new war.”
These attitudes were likely due to propaganda: “The airwaves and Internet in Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania are constantly bombarded these days with naked appeals to the patriotism of the Baltic states’ large ethnic-Russian minorities and fevered allegations that they and their NATO allies are encircling Russia,” the National Post noted.
If push does come to shove, the locals living in these countries may suffer gravely, though the blame for their tribulations will likely lie with Putin, not NATO.
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