Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday that NATO is considering permanently deploying troops in the Baltic states after Lithuania’s president raised fears that Russian leader Vladimir Putin will march his army into other European countries if he is not stopped in Ukraine.
“We’re continuously reviewing within NATO our defense posture, including looking at questions of extending the deployment of forces, looking at questions of more permanent deployments. All of that is under regular review, and we’re engaged with NATO allies in doing just that,” Blinken said during a joint news conference with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis in Vilnius.
America’s top diplomat was responding to a question based on comments made by Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda, who warned that if Putin is not defeated, he will make good on his threats to menace NATO countries that assisted Ukraine.
Blinken reiterated that America’s commitment to Article 5 — which states that an attack on one NATO member is an attack against all — is “sacrosanct.”
”As President Biden repeated to the American people in his State of the Union address just a few days ago, we will defend every inch of NATO territory if it comes under attack. No one should doubt our readiness; no one should doubt our resolve,” he said.
Blinken noted that the US has sent thousands of US troops to bolster NATO’s eastern flank in recent weeks and has also deployed F-35 fighter jets to the Baltic region. An additional 400 military personnel from the First Armored Brigade combat team will arrive in Lithuania in the coming days.
He also said that despite Russia making some military gains, the Ukrainians will eventually be victorious.
“Even if and as Russia might win a battle in Ukraine, that doesn’t mean it’s winning the war. If and as Russia might take a city in Ukraine, that doesn’t mean that it’s taking the hearts and minds of the Ukrainian people. It can’t; it won’t,” he said. “And whether it’s a week, whether it’s a month, whether it’s longer, I am utterly convinced that Ukraine will prevail.”
Blinken further emphasized America’s loyalty to the 30-member NATO alliance.
“When it comes to NATO, the line is very clear. And I’ll repeat it: If there is any aggression anywhere on NATO territory, on NATO countries, we the United States, all of our allies and partners, will take action to defend every inch of NATO territory. It’s as clear and direct as that,” Blinken said.
Blinken spent the weekend in Poland and Moldova, which border Ukraine, before visiting Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, all former Soviet republics that have long feared Russian retrenchment.