If Finland and Sweden join NATO, the US will not increase the number of its troops in these countries. This was stated by the commander of the American army in Europe and Africa, General Christopher Cavoli. His words on May 26 are reported by the Associated Press.
The American general at the hearings in the Senate confirmed that the attention of military structures, most likely, will continue to be directed to Eastern Europe. He explained that it is in this region that countries are concerned about “potential Russian aggression” and the consequences of the conflict in Ukraine.
“The center of gravity for NATO forces has shifted to the east. Depending on the outcome of the conflict, we may have to stick to this for some time,” he said.
In addition, Cavoli commented on the presence of US troops in Europe, which has grown from less than 80,000 to about 102,000 in recent months.
He said the increase was unrelated to the more recent move by Finland and Sweden towards NATO membership.
At the same time, as the general emphasized, the United States must be careful so that their actions in Europe do not aggravate relations with Russia and do not lead to an expansion of the conflict.
Earlier, on May 24, Secretary of the Security Council Nikolai Patrushev said that Russia would perceive the expansion of NATO’s military infrastructure in Finland and Sweden as a threat and would be obliged to respond.
On May 18, Sweden and Finland officially applied to join NATO. The ambassadors of the two countries handed them over to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at headquarters in Brussels. According to the Secretary General, the alliance is counting on quick steps to formalize the membership of these countries in the bloc.
The Russian Foreign Ministry reacted critically to the statement by the authorities of Finland and Sweden about plans to join the alliance, noting that in this way the security of these countries would not be ensured. Russian President Vladimir Putin on May 16 during the anniversary summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization noted that the expansion of NATO is artificial.