13:47 May. 3, 2016
NATO is considering the deployment a rotational force of about 4,000 troops
US Defense Secretary Ash Carter has said the alliance is pondering deploying a ground force in Eastern Europe to deter Russia. Carter's on a trip to Germany, as NATO prepares to appoint a new top general for Europe.
Speaking to reporters on his flight from Washington to Stuttgart on Tuesday (May 3), Carter said NATO ´was considering the deployment a rotational force of about 4,000 troops.
These would be in addition to a contingent of 4,200 troops that the US is going to send to Eastern Europe next February.
"That is one of the options that's being discussed," Carter said, adding "We're obviously involved in those discussions."
NATO's Baltic member states Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia have been requesting a stronger alliance presence in the region following Moscow's annexation of Crimea in early 2014.
According to Carter, Russia had chosen to move away from integration with the West. "Therefore, we have no alternative but to do what we're doing, which is stand strong," by improving the US' military presence in Europe, Carter said.
The Pentagon chief also said, however, that Washington was willing to "hold the door open if Russian behavior should change," especially in areas where both countries shared benefits, like the Iran nuclear deal.