NATO defense ministers meet in Brussels to manage the biggest reinforcement of
the Alliance since the Cold War. The new U.S. Secretary of Defense, retired Gen. James Mattis, will be under scrutiny to see if he is still NATO-friendly.
Four multinational battalions are being deployed in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland to answer what the Alliance regards as Russian aggression toward neighboring NATO countries and Ukraine. High-ranking military personnel in NATO expected Moscow to react to the deployment of troops, according to German broadcaster DW, with Russia recently reporting the presence of mobile nuclear Iskander missiles systems in Kalingrad that could reach as far as Berlin.
During confirmation hearings in the United States, Mattis expressed strong support for the Alliance. His boss, new U.S. President Donald Trump has disparaged the body. In describing Russia as a threat during the hearings, Mattis has also diverged from Trump's view while echoing NATO's assessment. Mattis' stance at the meeting will reveal whether he has been forced by Trump to tone down his support for the Alliance.
NATO suspended its cooperation with Russia in response to Russia's military intervention in Ukraine in 2014.
Date written/update: 2017-01-24