NATO nears agreement on reassurance measures for Eastern Europe

In an interview with Reuters on Wednesday, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said that NATO member states are near to reaching agreement over steps to strengthen the alliance's military presence in eastern Europe in response to Russia's intervention in Ukraine.

While Sikorski believes Moscow could still invade eastern Ukraine, he said the possibility of Russian troops doing so under cover of a humanitarian aid convoy had receded.
Poland has been a leading voice in calling for sanctions on Russia and for NATO to move forces eastwards to reassure members on Russia's border.
NATO has proposed pre-positioning supplies and equipment at bases in the east in readiness for sending troops if needed. One option under consideration is to augment an existing NATO regional headquarters in north-western Poland.
"Until this year we did not have war between two of our neighbours, and now we do. So our perception of the need for reassurance is even higher," Sikorski said in the interview.
"We've welcomed the proposals by the military authorities of the alliance who have formulated what they think a reasonable reassurance package is, and we believe that's a good proposal."
Sikorski was reluctant to go into details about the likely options because he said diplomats and military officials needed more time to prepare a consensus view that can be approved at the NATO summit in Wales on September 4th.
Sikorski added that the allies were "quite close" to reaching a consensus and that it should be achieved in time for the summit.
The proposals under consideration by NATO fall well short of what Sikorski had previously recommended, namely for the alliance to permanently station two brigades in eastern member states.
Meanwhile, during a visit to Iceland, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen told journalists that he fears Putin's ambition 'goes beyond Ukraine'.
"We have seen the illegal annexation of Crimea, we have seen a strong Russian hand in the destabilisation of eastern Ukraine," Rasmussen said, adding, "But actually we also see Russia behind the frozen and protracted conflicts in Transnistria and eastern Moldova, in Abkhazia and South Ossetia and Georgia". Rasmussen said Moscow hoped to establish a sphere of Russian influence in surrounding countries, concluding: "that's why I am concerned that the Russian ambitions go beyond Ukraine".