“Croatian Soldiers in the Baltic Are Not Directed against Russia”

Total Croatia News

Croatian soldiers will soon find themselves very near the Russian border.

The planned deployment of Croatian soldiers as part of NATO’s forces to the Baltic is not meant as an act against Russia, but as a sign of solidarity within NATO, said Croatian Foreign Minister Davor Ivo Stier on Friday reacting to Russia’s position which considers the NATO move to be a provocation, reports Večernji List on April 21, 2017.

NATO will this year deploy about 1,000 soldiers in each of the Baltic states and Poland, in addition to smaller contingents of US soldiers who are already in the region. Up to 300 Croatian soldiers will participate in these forces. They will be deployed in Poland by the end of 2017, and in Lithuania by the beginning of 2018, according to the proposal of the government which still needs to be confirmed by the Parliament.

“This is not directed against anyone, but is a sign of solidarity within NATO,” said Stier during a joint press conference with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius. “In bilateral relations with Russia, we are acting as a member of EU and NATO, but we are also open to dialogue, especially regarding the situation in the southeast of Europe and in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” said Stier who will visit Moscow in late May.

Linkevicius pointed out that strengthening of NATO forces in the Baltic was “not just a gesture, but a minimal move to secure the Baltic states and Poland and send a message to the local population that we will guarantee their security as foreseen in the NATO Charter.”

“With regard to the activities of the other side, we are talking not about a thousand, but about 300,000 troops deployed in western Russia, equipped with modern weapons capable of carrying nuclear arms. However, we will not compete or make situation more tense, but just send a clear message that we are here,” said the Lithuanian minister. “We want to strengthen relations with neighbouring Russia, but on the basis of international law and non-interference in internal affairs,” said Linkevicius, who is visiting Croatia.

The Ministry of Defence announced that Croatia backed all NATO decisions to strengthen collective security and defence and added that it would initiate a procedure for adopting the necessary legislation in the Parliament to participate in NATO’s presence in Lithuania and Poland.

Although the final composition, the time of deployment and the number of soldiers will depend on the agreement with the leading nations (Germany and USA), it is expected that the group in Lithuania will have up to 200 Croatian soldiers, while the one in Poland will have 90 Croatian troops.

At the NATO summit in Warsaw in July 2016, a number of decisions were made to strengthen the Alliance’s defence capabilities, and one of them is aimed at raising the security of the eastern member states.


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