American efforts to reassure rattled NATO members in Eastern Europe seem (kind of) underway with the forthcoming announcement of military drills in Poland and Estonia. The exercises will be announced next week.
The news comes on the heels of a poll in Poland, which revealed that Poles had become more worried about the stability of their national independence than at any point over the past 23 years. Poland was the first country to leave the Soviet Bloc.
The survey showed 47 percent saw a risk to national independence - the highest level in the poll's history dating back to 1991 - as a result of the Ukraine crisis.
So how robust will these military drills be? Not very robust it seems. We're not talking divisions, brigades, or battalions here, we're talking one company of about 150 soldiers in Poland and then Estonia for about two weeks.
It is not yet clear what additional troop deployments the United States and other NATO nations might undertake in Eastern Europe after the exercises and to what extent the moves would ease anxieties there."
Here's another prognosis:
NATO turns 65 this year & moves like any one else of retirement age based on speed, agility of its Ukraine response. http://t.co/RdEEC29vF5— David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) April 19, 2014
Meanwhile, today Russia defended its build-up of troops on the Russian-Ukrainian border with new aplomb. Departing from the scripts of "routine exercises," Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov admitted the troops were there because of Ukraine.
"We ... have forces in the region of the Ukrainian border. Some of these forces are based there permanently, others are there to reinforce, against the backdrop of what is happening in Ukraine itself."
He also added a third-grader's defense: Russia is free to do what it wants with its troops in its own territory and no one can tell them otherwise.